When A-Club President Bruce Nelson ’71 asked his executive committee about contributing $25,000 to name a faculty room in the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR), their unanimous response was a slam dunk: “Let’s do it.”
To Nelson, the reasons for investing in the Augsburg campaign for the new Center seem obvious. First, showing support is the right thing to do. Second, it is a public statement of belief that Augsburg is on the right path. Finally, it is a chance to participate in what all agree are exciting times, when myriad people are motivated to join hands and hearts in pursuit of a common goal.
After all, Augsburg is a “people college,” Nelson points out. “We may be landlocked in terms of our buildings, but we can compete with the rest of the colleges because of our people. Someone will always be there for you. We provide guidance, mentoring, and a good experience. And we have great coaches and alumni.”
Can a Center for Science, Business, and Religion Help Athletes?
It may not seem obvious. Will the CSBR help athletes directly? “Absolutely,” he says, though it may not seem obvious. “One of the major changes I see is that, instead of us having to go out and seek students, they will come and seek us out. We’ll be a showcase for student athletes.”
Nelson, who returned to his alma mater after 36 years as a high school teacher and coach, has a broad perspective. His son Richard Nelson ’04 is an Auggie. His father, Edor Nelson ’38, after whom an athletic field is named, launched the A-Club with three friends in 1936. The club now boasts 300 active, committed members whose focus is wide and long. It is not unusual for them to support projects that benefit the whole college.
“We are not separate,” he explains. “We believe in what the College is doing. This will put Augsburg on the map.”
Timing, he suggests, couldn’t be better. Director of Athletics Jeff Swenson ’79 agrees wholeheartedly. “I’ve been at Augsburg for 30 years, and it’s never been at a better place,” Swenson says. “It has great leadership, a great president and cabinet, and great vision. We have a goal in regard to everything we do. I also feel it’s very transparent; everybody is in the loop.”
And he does mean everybody. He is particularly proud of the fact that the capital campaign participation rate in his department is 100 percent.
Athletics and academics go arm in arm
“Our feeling here in the athletic realm is that we don’t have an athletic department unless we have a college,” he explains. “We intentionally made a statement that the CSBR is important, that it will help our athletes.”
He is convinced that athletic recruiting, for example, is destined for change. Rather than bypassing the aging science building on campus tours, which current hosts tend to do unless their guests are science majors, tomorrow’s recruiters will make the CSBR an important stop. For many, the new building represents not only Augsburg’s honored heritage, but also its future promise and elevated status in the challenging Division III conference. It will give the Athletic Department a proud leg up in what coaches often call the arms race of higher education.
“That doesn’t happen without some leadership,” Swenson says. “We really do feel that the CSBR will transform the entire College, and we’re part of that college. We want to let everybody know we’re on board.”
“You can’t have great success without great leadership. Ours is the best you could ask for,” concurs Nelson, who is also thrilled that former classmate Mike Good ’71 now chairs the capital campaign. Back in the day, Nelson was football captain while Good captained wrestling. “How can you lose, hanging around people like that?”