Sophomore Letter

My husband Steve and I both agree, when traveling through Decorah during the recent Luther Family Weekend, we felt a sense of relaxation and “chill” that’s difficult to evoke in the typical hustle-bustle of our daily life in metro Denver. It’s part of what makes the Luther College experience so attractive to us for our daughter, Emma, a second year Nursing student and a Norse Cross Country runner.

As members of the Luther College Parents Council, we were excited to hear about actions our college staff and faculty are taking to continue making Luther a great learning experience for current and future students. The college is embracing challenges and changes; we believe that both will create exciting learning opportunities for all of our Luther students.

With the guidance of Aimee Viniard-Weideman, vice president for communication and marketing, Luther has embarked on a branding strategy effort in order to discern and solidify why we and our students are attracted to the school. This work in honing in on our college identity will support more robust recruitment and marketing efforts in the years to come.  

In addition, Corey Landstrom, vice president and dean for student life, offered a heartfelt review of the campus response to bias incidents that took place on the Luther campus last spring. I’m struck by the sincere quest “to be better” in creating an environment that is comfortable and welcoming to all students. While these types of incidents have taken place on many campuses, we learned first-hand of our students’ efforts to come together, in their small community, to process the hurtful events and commit to making all Luther students feel safe. I’m proud to know that my daughter attends a college that offers and encourages these conversations on social justice.

During the Parents Council meeting, Mariah Smith, director of development, current gifts, shared with us that between 30% and 32% of the 2017 and 2018 graduating classes utilized the Counseling services at Luther. As a mental health counselor, I feel gratitude knowing that our students are on a campus where it’s OK to reach out for emotional and behavioral support. This utilization rate likely demonstrates that students are encouraged to seek support when others on campus notice that peers or students are struggling with the transition to college life, academics, symptoms of stress, or other critical mental health concerns.  

Finally, I want to mention recruitment efforts focused on campus diversity. We learned from Scot Schaeffer, vice president for enrollment management, that Luther students are becoming more representative of U.S. African American and Hispanic American populations. In addition, nearly 10% of our newest class were recruited from 34 countries. We are excited that our student attends a campus focused on diverse recruitment which seeks to enrich the lives and experiences of all Luther students.  

In closing, why was your student attracted to Luther? Was it the established academic offerings like nursing, music, or social work? The exciting new major offerings like data science or neuroscience? Its location in Decorah and its “chill” vibe as one of the “Hippiest Towns in America?” The outdoor and active lifestyle (I would say the possibilities compete with those in our home state of Colorado)? Or the welcoming Lutheran and Norwegian traditions? Whatever drew you and your student to this great college, please support what you

love about Luther with a contribution to the Luther Fund. Your donation, whether it’s $10 or $10,000, will be used to continue making this learning environment the very things our students were attracted to in choosing Luther College. Visit to give online or use the enclosed response card and envelope.

Please feel free to reach out to me or Steve with any questions or concerns.

Janeen Haller-Abernethy and Steve Abernethy

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].

Sophomore Class Parents Council Members:

Steve Abernethy and Janeen Haller-Abernethy
Arvada, CO
jlhall [email protected]

Doug and Bonnie Hanggi
Lake Elmo, MN
[email protected]

Jen (Carlson) '86 and John Lembezeder
Peosta, IA
[email protected]

Eric ’85 and Di (Reque) Storvick '85
Mankato, MN
[email protected]

John and Rachel Vanderploeg
Aurora, IL
[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