Charitable Trusts: Ensure the Future

A Wonderful Way to Provide for Family and Augsburg

Whether you’re looking to supplement your income or concerned about outliving your assets in retirement, you’re not alone. Many Augsburg donors who feel the same way find that a life income plan is an attractive alternative. One such plan, a charitable remainder trust, allows you to receive an income stream, with a tax deduction when funded, in addition to supporting a charitable organization like Augsburg at the end of the trust.

With this type of gift, you, or other beneficiaries if you choose, receive regular income for life (or for a period of up to 20 years). At the end of the trust term, the balance in the trust supports Augsburg’s mission. Another benefit of a trust is that you may gain freedom from investment management.

You can fund a charitable trust with cash, but by funding your trust with long-term appreciated assets, you receive a number of additional benefits.
• You eliminate up-front capital gains tax.
• You may also increase your lifetime income as compared to the yield on the contributed assets.

Two Choices

There are two types of trusts that work this way: charitable remainder annuity trusts and charitable remainder unitrusts. While both trusts allow you to receive an income tax charitable deduction, there are small, but important differences.

Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust
• You receive a regular, fixed-dollar income based on a percentage of the trust’s initial assets.
• You may not make additional contributions to the trust.

Charitable Remainder Unitrust
• You receive a regular, variable-dollar income (the amount you receive is a set percentage of the current value of the unitrust, redetermined annually).
• You may make additional contributions to the trust.

Involve the Experts

Set up a time to meet with your estate planning attorney. He or she can help you ensure that your charitable remainder trust is properly set up to achieve your personal financial and philanthropic goals.

See What a Trust Can Do

We’d love to discuss how your generosity will be put toward our mission. We can partner with you and your estate planning attorney as you take the next steps. Simply contact Amy Alkire at 651-323-4844 or for a no-obligation consultation.

Pamela Moksnes ’79, Regent, with family and friends at Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Gala in 2019.

The information in this publication is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results.

Make a Legacy Gift at Augsburg

Everyone has something they are passionate about. For me, Augsburg holds an important spot in my heart. It’s a cause that’s near and dear to me and my family. Augsburg’s core commitments and values remain true, to provide the finest education and to care for our neighbors so that together we might create a better future.  I am honored to serve on the Board of Regents and as Vice-Chair for Great Returns Campaign.

But, did you know that you can ensure your support of charities, like Augsburg, even after your lifetime while also receiving tax benefits for yourself?

You can—with a legacy gift to Augsburg University.

Here are some popular opportunities:

  • Include a gift to us in your will or living trust.
    Your benefits: Retain control of your assets and have the flexibility to change your mind at any time. Read about the gift that Naomi ’81 and Steve Staruch have committed to Augsburg.
  • Name Augsburg a beneficiary of your retirement account.
    Your benefit: These assets pass to Augsburg tax-free, allowing us to use the entire amount to support our mission. If passed to your loved ones, they would have to pay income tax when distributions are made from the account. Miriam Cox Peterson ’68 is creating a scholarship using distributions from her IRA. 
  • Create a charitable trust.
    Your benefit: Take care of your family and give to your favorite charity in one instrument. Charitable trusts will be highlighted in the next blog post.

Need Help?

There are many ways you can ensure your support for Augsburg continues for years to come. Contact Amy Alkire at 651-323-4844 or today for help finding the perfect gift for you. You can also create your will for free using Augsburg’s online tool!

Pamela Moksnes '79

Pamela Moksnes ’79, Regent

The information in this publication is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results.

A New Year and a New Campaign Milestone

Happy New Year! As the new year and new semester begin, I want to update you on our Great Returns campaign.

In the last month of 2020, the Augsburg Community’s generosity continued to thrive despite the challenges of this past year. In fact, on the last day of the 2020, Augsburg received nearly 400 gifts totaling about $500,000. I am inspired by the commitment of the Augsburg community to ensure our students thrive. This outpouring of philanthropy has aided us in reaching a new milestone in our fundraising effort to build the Augsburg endowment. We now have raised more than $63 million in gifts and pledges!

We have also reached a new milestone in our student scholarship efforts. As part of the Great Returns campaign, we set an ambitious goal of securing 150 new scholarships in honor of the 150th anniversary of Augsburg’s founding. As of January 1, 2021, benefactors have established 97 new scholarships which make an Augsburg education possible for more students.

As we celebrate these milestones, I would like to lift up a few stories of generous benefactors.

While this has been an extraordinarily challenging year, I wanted you to know that the generosity of the Augsburg community has continued to change lives in powerful ways. I am grateful to everyone who chooses to share their gifts with Augsburg and look forward to a time when we can celebrate this generosity in person.  

Paul S. Mueller, M.D. ’84
Chair of Great Returns: Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Campaign

Replay of Live Campaign Report to Augsburg Benefactors

screen capture of Live Campaign Report video linking to the video
During this livestream, President Pribbenow was joined by Campaign Chair Dr. Paul Mueller ‘84, Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Vivian Feng, Augsburg Student Laura Kundel ‘21, Alumna Hodo Dahir ‘19, StepUP Endowment Chair Bob Thomas, and Regent Jill Thomas. Together they shared information on Great Returns: Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Campaign and the impact Auggie generosity has made across campus.

New Campaign Milestone in Drive to Build Augsburg Endowment

We are happy to share that Great Returns: Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Campaign has hit a new milestone in our fundraising effort to build the Augsburg endowment. Thanks to the generosity of Regents, alumni, parents, and friends we have more than $56 million in gifts and pledges. Although we are still in the early stage of this effort, the response is remarkable. The commitments of our closest donors already make this the largest campaign in our history. We expect to continue with our early stage fundraising through 2020. This is the time for donors who care deeply about our mission to make the initial commitments that set the pace for the broader campaign.

Augsburg Endowed Scholarship Donors Jeff ’77 and Becky ’79 Nodland

This week we announced a new endowed scholarship for music from Jeff ’77 and Becky ’79 Nodland. Jeff is a longtime leader on the Board of Regents, both serve on the President’s Council and are active alumni volunteers including their role as chairs of the 2021 All-School Reunion, they are Augsburg parents, and Becky serves on the Music Advisory Board. It has been a pleasure to work with them on a number of fundraising efforts. Hope you will take a moment to read about their gift here.

Heather Riddle
Vice President for Alumni Relations and Advancement

A Special Message to our Augsburg Community

Thank you for your exceptional support of Augsburg and its mission, despite the challenges we are all experiencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. At times like these, support from the Augsburg Community is humbling and inspiring.

Things are tough for everyone. I remind myself of Martin Luther’s words: “Pray, and let God worry.” I try to focus on what I can personally influence: the health and safety of my family, teams at Mayo in the La Crosse region, and those I directly serve as a physician.

We want to assure you that as we navigate this uncharted territory, Augsburg is taking all possible and necessary steps to protect the health and safety of all our community members. While we transition to online classes this week, I hope that you will take a moment to reflect on what Augsburg’s faculty and staff have been able to accomplish so quickly, to ensure the continuity of our academic programs and university operations, and to help our students continue with their academic successes. We also acknowledge the many staff that support required services on our campuses. We will emerge from this challenging time as we always do – together!

I also believe we will learn a lot from this experience such as how Augsburg can and will adapt to meet the needs of students and our community. Augsburg has done this many times throughout its history and this unique nimbleness has resulted in some of our hallmark programs such as StepUP, the CLASS office, weekend college, and others. 

As chair of Great Returns: Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Campaign, I would also like to give you an update on our campaign. I am grateful for all of you, Augsburg’s generous benefactors! Because of you, we have reached a significant milestone in our campaign: as of February 29, we have raised over $54 million in gifts and pledges to support Augsburg’s endowment and other strategic priorities, including over $12 million directed to endowed scholarships and $4 million directed to endowed professorships.

Augsburg changes lives and saves lives, and it is my hope that Augsburg will remain one of your philanthropic priorities.

With my best wishes for you and the people close to you. Keep Augsburg in mind and please stay in touch.


Paul S. Mueller, MD, ’84, Chair
Great Returns: Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Campaign

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10 ).”

Doctor Paul S. Mueller is the Regional Vice President for the Mayo Clinic Health System, Southwest Wisconsin. He is also a Professor of Medicine and a Professor of Biomedical Ethics in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. Doctor Mueller’s research focus is biomedical ethics, especially ethical dilemmas associated with life-sustaining technologies such as implantable cardiac devices. 

Doctor Mueller is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the Hastings Center and is involved in numerous volunteer activities, including chairing the Great Returns Campaign at Augsburg University.

COVID-19 Response: We Are Here For Our Students

Just as your family and community have felt the changes and uncertainties during this unprecedented time, Augsburg has made challenging decisions in the past week in response to COVID-19. These decisions have had a widespread effect on our lives and especially on the lives of our students. We’ve announced that classes are moving to online instruction, spring sports have been canceled, and much of our campus has moved to limited operations.

As we keep the wellbeing of our community as a top priority during this time, we also realize the impact it has had on our students, both financially and emotionally. We are currently on spring break, but our faculty and staff are working tirelessly to quickly adapt to new online instruction methods and the new financial circumstances we and our students now face. Especially to our students who face financial insecurity, the impact has been profound.

As President Pribbenow said in a message to the campus community last week: What I would ask of the Augsburg community is this: remember our mission and our 150 years of offering our students an education that equips them for life in the world; remember that we are a community that shows up for each other, with generosity and grace; and remember that we have found ways over and over again throughout our history to navigate difficult challenges – as we will do together in this moment.

I have been personally grateful to have heard from many alumni, faculty, and staff on campus who have shown great concern for our student’s wellbeing and asking what they can do to help. With that in mind, we have decided to create an immediate solution to helping those who need it the most right now.

Student Emergency Fund has been established to support the needs of financially insecure students, such as costs related to unexpected travel requirements or lost income when their jobs disappear in this economic reality. Gifts to this fund will assist students who have faced unanticipated financial burdens resulting from COVID-19.

Thank you for considering this special request and for your continued support of Augsburg. You can learn more about how Augsburg will be designating these funds at Stay up to date with campus changes through our task force website. Please let me know if you have any questions or feel free to drop me a note at any time (


Heather Riddle, Vice President for Advancement


The Agre legacy at Augsburg University is well-established. The late Courtland L. Agre accepted the position of chairperson in the chemistry department in 1959 and became a beloved professor, inspiring hundreds of admiring students to stake out careers in science. His lessons were not lost on his three sons, all of whom majored in chemistry: Nobel prize winner Peter Agre ’70, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute; Jim Agre ’72, professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Minnesota; and Mark Agre ’81, a rehabilitation medicine specialist in St. Paul. (Their sister, Annetta Agre ’69, majored in elementary education and taught in the Minneapolis school system.)

So when Jim Agre and his wife, Brenda Gauvin-Chadwick, designated a planned gift of $1.25 million to Augsburg in their estate, it certainly fit the family tradition. But this couple also has deeply personal reasons for committing their funds to the StepUp program. Alcoholism contributed to the early deaths of Jim’s first wife and Brenda’s sister.

“We saw how awful the disease of addiction can be. Now we are in a position to be able to give back,” says Jim, who also serves on StepUp’s board of directors. “The StepUp program offers recovering students an opportunity to regain control of their lives and become fulfilled and productive citizens.”

Health and wellness have long been a touchstone for him. He majored in biology and chemistry and participated in team sports; both he and Peter joined Augsburg’s original men’s soccer team in 1968. After graduating at the end of soccer season a few years later, Jim spent five months in Hamburg, Germany, where he played on a Hamburg soccer team, brushed up on his German language skills, and worked at a light fixture manufacturing plant.

He came home to attend the University of Minnesota medical school, then one of the few in the country that offered a specialty in physical medicine and rehabilitation. He recalls being drawn to that specialty because its treatments were focused on the recovery of individuals who had experienced severe loss of function due to medical illness. Becoming part of the medical team that restores function and quality of life to those individuals proved very fulfilling.

“As I look back on my career, I am very happy with the decision I made,” he says.

Jim plans to retire this spring but has no plans to slow down. He takes Swedish classes and returns often to Sweden and Norway to visit family and participate in cross-country ski competitions; he and his wife are both avid skiers. At home, he takes part in Loppet Nordic Racing at Theodore Wirth Park.

He also remains connected to Augsburg. Back in medical school, he coached men’s soccer after his classes and labs were done for the day. Last fall, he volunteered as an assistant coach. “It was nice to see those young boys so full of enthusiasm and energy,” he says.

The supportive environment he encountered on campus 50 years ago has not changed, he adds. Although he had considered attending the University of California, Berkeley, where he lived with his family while his father was on sabbatical, he feels blessed to have chosen the smaller school. “Even as a freshman, I knew my professors, and I could go to them if I had questions or a problem. They knew me as a person, not just a number in a class. That personal touch was very helpful.”

The sense of caring still pervades the campus, creating a firm foundation for StepUp, one of the first comprehensive programs in the country to emphasize and support students in recovery. Services range from sober living space to sobriety pledges to counseling as needed. “They are helping folks who have various challenges that the average student doesn’t have. It makes me feel good to be a part of Augsburg,” Jim says, “and doing wonderful things to help folks along also helps our society.”

January 1, 1902 Dedication of New Old Main

On January 1, 1902, the Augsburg community rang in the new year with a multi-day celebration of the opening of what was then called “New Old Main”.

What follows is an excerpt edited for length and clarity from an earlier draft of “Hold Fast to What is Good,” the sesquicentennial history of Augsburg University, by Phil Adamo.

A hand drawn floor plan for New Old Main 1899

A hand drawn floor plan for New Old Main 1899

New Old Main

Omeyer & Thori architectural plan


A QUARTER CENTURY after the Main building was erected, the seminary needed to expand. As the seminary grew, the building that would soon become “Old” Main was becoming inadequate to support classrooms for the increasing student body. In the summer of 1899, the Lutheran Free Church recommended that:

A new building [be built] containing class rooms, library, etc., at the cost of $30,000, the work to commence as soon as sufficient funds are collected. [1]

Groundbreaking and the laying of the foundation began in the winter of 1899, but the building was not completed until 1902. Several factors delayed construction on the building: a national economic slump in the 1890s, falling enrollments, students from small town farming families forced to stay home due to poor weather effecting crops. Tuition income fell. The cost of building materials rose.

Funding for New Main’s construction also became entangled in a scandal surrounding Trinity Lutheran’s pastor, Melchior Falk Gjertsen, who had close ties to Augsburg. Gjertsen had traveled to Norway with August Weenaas, on the expedition that brought Sven Oftedal back to the seminary. According to Chrislock, upon his return from a different preaching tour, in 1900, Gjertsen found himself accused of “having authored and posted a salacious letter to a married woman with whom he allegedly had established a romantic relationship during his stay in Norway.”[2] The letter made the pastor look like a philanderer and a cad. Gjertsen returned to Norway to clear his name, but when he was unable to do so, he slipped out of the country before facing further legal charges. Back in Minneapolis, the Trinity congregation questioned his suitability to serve as their pastor. Georg Sverdrup, then president of Augsburg and a member of Trinity, pushed for a full inquiry. The controversy split the Trinity congregation, and Gjertsen ended up resigning, only to found the Bethany Lutheran church, just blocks away on Franklin Avenue.

Trinity Lutheran’s pastor Melchior Falk Gjertsen

Historian Nina Draxten has worked to reclaim Pastor Gjertsen’s good name, demonstrating how the woman involved, Esther Biernakowsky Paulsen, had a questionable reputation. An employee at a major bank in Bergen claimed that Paulsen had also tried to ruin his reputation through false accusations. The fellow target of Paulsen’s scam offered to sign a deposition, but his employers pressured him to withdraw his statement to avoid bad publicity for the bank. Gjertsen did recover from the scandal, and was eventually re-elected to the Minneapolis school board, where he had served before all of this broke out.[3] But Gjertsen’s good relationship to Augsburg never returned. In terms of funding the new building, donors used the Gjertsen affair as a way to distance themselves from the project. According to Chrislock, Amasa C. Paul, president of the Minneapolis Commercial Club:

Pointed to “the trouble … in connection with … Gjertsen, which if we had foreseen, would have prevented us from taking up the [fund-raising] matter at all.”[4]

In spite of these difficulties, the capital campaign proceeded. During the summer of 1901, many of Augsburg’s preparatory faculty devoted their summer to fundraising for the building, which helped to move construction along. The completion of the building in 1902 instilled a sense of pride throughout the school’s faculty, staff, and students, and the new spacious structure helped to strengthen morale on campus.

As the plans from Saint Paul architects Didrik Omeyer and Martin Thori show, New Main contained several classrooms, a library, a museum, a gymnasium, and a chapel space. In a commemorative collection of reflections on the new building’s dedication, theology professor Hans Urseth offered this description of New Main:

The architecture is uniformly classic, leaving on the mind that impression of simplicity and harmony which characterizes especially purely Greek architecture … The ornamentation by which the wall surfaces are relieved, aside from the arches and belts in the brick-work proper, consist mainly in panels of terra cotta … The symbolic figure of a lighted torch in the terra cotta of the exterior is again found in the only ornamentation in the interior—the stucco-work of the chapel.[5]

Not to mention that it had indoor plumbing! In fact, following 1902’s completion of New Main, the school had modern plumbing installed in all of the buildings on campus. Prior to this, “old, unsightly” outhouses were used on the campus, which had “usurped valuable space on the seminary block for a generation.”[6]

The one common denominator of all buildings on Augsburg’s campus, for as long as they stand, is that they are constantly being re-purposed. This fate was no different for New Main. In 1947, it officially became Old Main when its predecessor was demolished. In the course of its life, the building’s chapel has become a painting studio; the gymnasium in the basement is now a sculpture studio. The museum is no more, and the library has been moved and improved at least twice.

In 1971, the Augsburgian praised Augsburg’s campus as being a “curious combination of old and new buildings.” New Old Main, it said:

Serves diverse purposes … a general classroom area … faculty offices hidden in its nooks and crannies … an up-to-date language lab in which students may be found during all hours of the day; and it even contains a chapel which can be used alternately as a classroom or a choir practice area. Old Main indeed has a unique personality.[7]

Yet New Old Main in the 1970s was itself under consideration for demolition. One major problem had to do with accessibility. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 required that “every institution that wishes to keep receiving federal funds must be programmatically and structurally accessible to the handicapped population by June 2, 1980.”[8] Accessibility was a problem that affected the entire campus. In the 1980s, Augsburg implemented a campaign for improving accessibility across campus called “Making A Way.” This program, which began under Oscar Anderson’s presidency and extended into Charles Anderson’s, “included construction of elevators, ramps, tunnels, skyways, and powered doors to make classroom and administrative buildings accessible to all of the Augsburg community.”[9] Nowadays, the design of new buildings on campus includes accessibility considerations as a matter of course.

Yet New Old Main in the 1970s was itself under consideration for demolition. One major problem had to do with accessibility. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 required that “every institution that wishes to keep receiving federal funds must be programmatically and structurally accessible to the handicapped population by June 2, 1980.”[8] Accessibility was a problem that affected the entire campus. In the 1980s, Augsburg implemented a campaign for improving accessibility across campus called “Making A Way.” This program, which began under Oscar Anderson’s presidency and extended into Charles Anderson’s, “included construction of elevators, ramps, tunnels, skyways, and powered doors to make classroom and administrative buildings accessible to all of the Augsburg community.”[9] Nowadays, the design of new buildings on campus includes accessibility considerations as a matter of course.

Old Main of the 1970s also required renovations to make it fire-safe: replacing wooden doors and installing a sprinkler system. Additional renovations would “rid the building of deficiencies such as sagging floors, energy-loss windows, and inefficient use of space.”[10] All tolled, these renovations would not be cheap, roughly $1.5 million. Within the school, a debate began on whether Augsburg should follow through with these renovations or construct a new building.

In November 1978, the Echo conducted a student poll on the question of razing or renovating Old Main. Student opinion was almost unanimous in favor of keeping the building instead of tearing it down, stating, for example, that it was the “only classy building in the school” and that “a college should be progressive, but it should not forget its beginnings.”[11] Chrislock offered the poll some historical perspective:

Augsburg’s first generation was still here when the building was built, and every subsequent generation has used it … Old Main does represent what Augsburg is architecturally. The Greek ideal was cultivated so much by Augsburg’s founders, and the very style of the building is a reminder of that.[12]

Because of these strong opinions and arguments, not to mention the resources necessary to construct a new building, Augsburg’s Board of Regents chose to keep Old Main and pursue the renovations it badly needed. According to Richard Nelson and Dave Wood:

Today, [Old Main] remains a monument to the faith of the college fathers, a linchpin to the past, stolid and permanent.[13]

In 1984, Old Main was put on the National Register of Historic Places.[14]

Heather Riddle
Vice President for Advancement

[1] “The Annual Meeting…,” Ekko, 1:7 (15 June 1899), 112.

[2] Chrislock, From Fjord to Freeway, 83.

[3] Nina Draxten, The Testing of M. Falk Gjertsen (Northfield, MN, 1988).

[4] Chrislock, From Fjord to Freeway, 83.

[5] H. A. Urseth, “The New Building,” Mindeblade om Indvielsen af Augsburg Seminariums Nye Bygning, 1ste—3die Januar 1902 (Minneapolis, 1902), 76-78.

[6] Chrislock, From Fjord to Freeway, 87.

[7] Augsburgian (1970-71), 132.

[8] Kathy Yakal, “Augsburg and the Handicapped,” Echo, 85:3 (22 September 1978), 4.

[9] Yakal, “Augsburg and the Handicapped,” 4.

[10] Chris Halvorson, “New Facility may replace Old Main” Echo, 85:8 (27 October 1978), 1.

[11] Chris Halvorson and Holly Grotten, “Echo Random Old Main Poll—To Raise or Renovate,” Echo, 85:11 (17 November 1978), 1.

[12] Halvorson and Grotten, “Echo Random Old Main Poll,” 1.

[13] Nelson and Wood, Anderson Chronicles, 126.

[14] “Augsburg Old Main,” Landmarks & Historic Districts,,

Thank You

We are so grateful that you continue to champion Augsburg’s mission with your philanthropy. Your generosity makes a difference and doesn’t go unnoticed.

Money Magazine Ranking

Your support and the support of all of our donors makes Augsburg a distinct university. For example, a few weeks ago Augsburg was named a “most transformative college” by Money Magazine. We are the only school in Minnesota on their list of 50. You can see the full list here. Money Magazine shares that “It’s not surprising that elite schools report high graduation rates or alumni success. What’s impressive is when students beat the odds by doing better than would be expected from their academic and economic backgrounds. We call this a college’s value add. For this list, we ranked colleges based on our exclusive value-added scores for graduation rates, earnings, and student loan repayment, eliminating schools with below-average scores.”

Below you’ll see my mobile number and email address. Please feel free to text, call, or email me if I can be helpful to you in any way.


Heather Riddle

Vice President for Advancement, Augsburg University

mobile: 651-283-7949