First-Year Letter

Spring 2017

Dear Parents of Luther First-Year Students,

Due to inclement weather in February, the Parents Council spring meeting didn’t happen. I believe the weather service said “blizzard,” and therefore Luther cancelled the meeting so we didn’t have to drive through the storm. But, in lieu of the meeting, we received updates and are pleased to share them with you.

  • At the time of the scheduled meeting in late February, Luther applications were running 11 percent ahead of last year based on an all-time high count of 4,051;
  • Paid deposits were standing at a four-percent year-on-year increase;
  • A new alumni recruitment program is scheduled to be rolled out in July.

This session of the Parents Council was also set to focus on the strategic planning process. You may have already seen a survey targeted to students or current parents. After a number of meetings, workshops, and a May retreat, the plan is for the Strategic Planning Committee to present goals and priorities to the Luther College Board of Regents in October. If you did not receive a survey, you may contact Terry Sparkes or Brad Chamberlain, who serve as co-chairs of the Strategic Planning Committee. Any ideas or comments that you would like the committee to consider as the college moves toward identifying goals and priorities for the next 3-5 years are welcomed. Brad's email is [email protected].  Terry's is [email protected].

One of the guiding questions for this process set us to thinking about the Luther experience:

  • What aspects of Luther drew your child here, and what is the value of the education that Luther provides?

Key to answering this question might be some really valuable insight gained from Luther's commitment to its Strengths-Based Servant Leadership Program that is provided to students during their first year. The program’s assessment tool provides a foundation of self-understanding and a shared language across campus for students, faculty, and staff. Over 78 percent of the Class of 2018 have participated in this process so far (as did Parents Council members; the summary results provided to us were most insightful).

The survey is developed and implemented by Gallup Inc., and there are several guiding principles around its findings (which are called themes). It’s important to understand that themes—or categories of talent—are neutral, and there is no inherent valuing or labeling placed on the talent themes, as they are all equally important. You can learn more about the Gallup Strengths Assessment at

In fact, the aim of this broad, campus-wide assessment effort is to understand that differences are an advantage when developed and used wisely. The survey instrument provides a framework to help explore the powerful contributions your student has the potential to make.

Similarly, the focus of "Roots and Wings" is to make—and keep—Luther the place it is. As you know, we do have a special mission as parents. The weather for our spring Parents Council meeting may have been inclement, but the message and outcomes of our "virtual meeting" were really strong: recognize our strengths, embrace the opportunity to make the most of them, and use the resulting success to sustain and promote others. Luther’s Parents Association directly supports the Luther College Annual Fund, and you can always help at A higher percentage of parent participation in giving attracts additional giving from foundations, so please consider making a gift of any size as a vote of confidence in Luther, and a further investment in your student’s strengths.

We’ll write again in the fall.


2017    Apr. 14-17                  Easter vacation
            May 15-18                  Final exams
            May 21                       Commencement
            Aug. 30                       Fall semester begins
            Sep. 22-24                  Family Weekend
            Oct. 6-8                       Homecoming
            Oct. 13-17                   Fall vacation
            Nov. 22-26                  Thanksgiving vacation
            Nov. 30-Dec. 3           Christmas at Luther
            Dec. 11-14                   Final exams

Michael and Dina Barron  [email protected]

Colleen and David Bolthouse  [email protected]

Larry ’87 and Connie (Foxworthy) Logeman ’88  [email protected]  

Todd Saner ’90 and Jennifer Munn Saner ‘89   [email protected]

John and Vicki Sharp   [email protected]          


“There are but two lasting bequests we can give our children.  One is roots, the other, wings.”

Roots and Wings—how often we think about these gifts as we guide and nurture our children through those first years. As parents, we have a special mission.

The roots are planted as we help them establish a firm foundation for life, a definition of who they are and where they came from, the security of family and a sense of community.

The wings emerge as we gradually let them go, allowing them the freedom to fly—to take what they have learned and soar to new heights, to reach beyond existing boundaries, to seek and find their place in this world.

You should have a sense of pride. Under your watchful eye, your child has grown into a young adult with dreams and unlimited potential for the future. And now, you are allowing those dreams to live, by encouraging the opportunity for new growth at Luther College, an institution with deep roots and caring people to assist students as they pursue their dreams and realize their potential.

Please give your child “roots and wings.” Support the Annual Fund through the Luther College Parents Association and enhance learning opportunities for all Luther students.