First-Year Letter

Hello fellow Luther College first-year parents!

Although it wasn’t evident at our recent Parent’s Council meeting during Family Weekend, Fall is upon us. Soon we will see the changes in the leaves and feel the cool crispness in the air. It has also created change in our homes as we have sent our children off to Luther. It may be your first child going to college or it might be be your last, which is the case in our house. Regardless of the situation and the transformations in nature or your home, change is sometimes uncomfortable. The good news is there is a silver lining. Just like the changes in the seasons bring new things to do and experience, it is the same for our children. The trees and prairies of the beautiful Decorah area will grow and sprout new life and so will our children. They will blossom from new experiences. Grow with new friends. And become strong with their experiences at Luther.

Just as we will see change in the seasons and our children, there are many changes at Luther itself. The college is well on its way to incorporating their new strategic plan, Inspired. Empowered. Engaged. The five-year plan is designed to make Luther more dynamic and innovative in its support of contemporary, liberal arts students. Some of the concepts in the plan include: increased J-Term experiences, the creation of innovation incubators and the development of a center for teaching and learning. We also received an update on the process to replace our current president, Dr. Paula Carlson. Dr. Carlson recently announced her plan to retire at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year. The expectation is to have her successor in place by March of 2019.

The Parent’s Council also received an update on the state of admissions as well as campus safety and security. Enrollment at Luther is up and so is the diversity of the incoming student body. It is the largest incoming class since the Fall of 2015 with 572 students. 459 of these new students come from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois, with 58 coming from other states, and the remaining 55 from 34 different countries.

Further, almost 60% of the incoming students finished in the top 25% of their high school class. As parents, we can take comfort in the steps the college is taking to improve safety and security by upgrading their emergency preparedness and campus response. This includes an improvement in policy language, more clearly defined responses and procedures to an incident that might happen on campus and a comprehensive support system for any affected party.

As we all know, our children and nature need to be nurtured in order for them both to set solid roots and grow. Some will do it readily and some need to be helped along. Be patient, nurturing and supportive of both and everyone will benefit in the long run. My wife and I look forward to watching our daughter grow in the fertile soil of Luther College. Part of that growth is through the generous donations of dedicated parents just like you. For all that are able to give above and beyond their current support, through a gift to the Luther Fund, your donation demonstrates to all students that you believe in them and the value of a Luther College education. A gift to the Luther Fund supports scholarships, financial aid, music tours, student groups, intramural sports, student/faculty research, well-kept residence halls, well-equipped classrooms, a beautiful campus and so much more. We are grateful for a donation of any amount. Visit to give online or use the enclosed response card and thank you.

If you have any questions, there are many places to get answers. You can always feel free to reach out to us, or any other of the Parent Council members. You can also visit, join the Luther College Parents Facebook page or research the Decorah area at:

Hoping you find your joy,

John and Sue Bieno

P.S. – Parent’s Council is a group of about 40 parents, representing each of the four class years, who meet twice a year to receive updates on college news, events, and planning to provide the college with feedback.

P.P.S.  Please know, lists for each class letter are generated by the number of credit hours a student has earned, not by senior, junior, etc. status. If you would like to receive a different class letter, please contact Annette Laitinen at 800-225-8664 or [email protected].

First Year Class Parents Council Members:

John and Sue Bieno    
Oregon, WI
[email protected]

Alfred and Holli Chan
Marion, IA
[email protected]

Dale and Karen Homolka
Jacksonville, IL
[email protected]

Pat ‘92 and Karen (Titus) Trewin ’92
Decorah, IA
[email protected]

2018-19 Dates to Remember

Nov. 21-25                Thanksgiving vacation
Nov. 29-Dec. 2          Christmas at Luther
Dec. 10-13                 Final Exams
Jan. 7-30                   January Term
Feb. 6                 
Spring semester begins
March 23–31     
Spring Vacation
April 19–22        Easter Vacation
May 20–23          Final Exams
May 26                Commencement