Monthly Archives: August 2013

Alumni Action Moves the CSBR Campaign Forward

A Message from Wayne Jorgenson ’71 who serves on the Campaign Action Team for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion Campaign.

What can we as alumni do to assure Augsburg’s standing as a distinctive urban college? What might happen to Augsburg if each class cumulatively gave $1 million or more to support the Center for Science, Business, and Religion?

Some of us have been giving those questions much thought and more ACTION.

In my field of investments, I constantly hear about the need for engineers, people with backgrounds in science and mathematics. Augsburg is embarking on this new building project to help train our students to fill that need.  It will be a wonderful addition to this campus and give a real sense of pride to those who help get it built.

You have heard from my fellow alumnus and volunteer Chris Ascher ’81 about the Class Challenge idea. You will see in the updates section of this newsletter a list of classes and the funds raised so far toward the CSBR campaign. I am writing today to invite you to think about your place in this essential effort to move Augsburg forward as a truly unique and powerful urban liberal arts college.

All of us who attended Augsburg received the benefits of the remarkable foresight and generosity of people passionate about learning, committed to their faith, and eager to bring the two together to create a very special College. Their gifts of time, talent, and money built Augsburg, brick by brick, student by student, professor by professor. Even if we paid full price for our Augsburg education, we received tangible support from the millions of investments made by others before us. Many of us received financial help when we went to school. This help came from people unknown to us, who believed that an educated person has a better chance in life to be happy and successful, and perhaps improve the lives of all people.

That is why I am calling on all Auggies to join me and my peers as we “pay it back and pay it forward!”

What do I mean by this call to action?

I mean each of us can make a difference with our gifts to financially support our college and the CSBR campaign.

No time like the present

If each class raises their $1 million, that is enough to reach our goal and put this wonderful Center at the heart of the campus. And today is a great day to act because we are announcing a significant challenge gift to encourage the classes of ’71 and ’72 to make your gifts and pledges now.  The challenge, which has been received, offers a match for each gift and pledge made from members of these two classes between now and the end of 2013 up to $75,000 per class. Please contact me, Chris Ascher or the Advancement team with your interest in helping to secure those extra matching funds.

Not in one of these classes? Other challenge gifts are seeking other supporters in the sciences including the Hanwick Challenge .

None of us got to where we are today without the remarkable support of others. Now you can take a “pay it forward” step that will truly transform Augsburg. I encourage you to learn more about and support financially the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR). You will be glad you did and so will Augsburg’s students of the future.

Agre Family Commitment Puts Values Into Action

From a Toy Chemistry Set to a Nobel Prize

Could a simple gift of a homemade chemistry set really be the link to a prize-winning medical break-through and multiple distinguished medical careers?

Jim and Peter Agre skiing the Vasaloppet Open Track Race in Sweden in 2010.

As small boys growing up in Northfield, MN, Peter ’70 and Jim Agre ’72 recall getting home from school and racing to the St. Olaf College campus to spend time in the chemistry lab where their father, Courtland, worked. Later, in 1958, after a time teaching in California, their father would be recruited by Bernhard Christensen and become head of the Augsburg chemistry department where he encouraged his students and his children to live lives of purpose and service.

It was not a question which college they would attend. Sons Peter, Mark ’81 and Jim all majored in chemistry at Augsburg. At a speech made years later, after receiving the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry which he shared with Roderick MacKinnon for his discovery of aquaporins, Peter confessed he had received a D in his high school chemistry course, in spite of the fact that his father chaired the Department of Chemistry at Augsburg. He said it taught him humility.

Flowing Discoveries

Peter describes his discovery that led to his Nobel Prize as the result of curiosity, luck and persistence. Aquaporins are “the plumbing system for cells,” said Agre. Every cell is primarily water. “But the water doesn’t just sit in the cell, it moves through it in a very organized way.” For 100 years, scientists assumed that water leaked through the cell membrane, and some water does. “But the very rapid movement of water through some cells was not explained by this theory,” said Agre. The process occurs rapidly in tissues that have these aquaporins or water channels.” His discovery of the aquaporins and that they could be manipulated, may lead to solutions of medical problems such as fluid retention in heart disease and brain edema after stroke as well as for Parkinson’s disease.

Jim ’72 and his younger brother Mark ’81 both work in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, serving those affected by significant medical disabilities including stroke, helping them regain function so they can live a better life. While Jim has not traveled much distance from Augsburg (his office is located in a brick office tower less than three blocks from the heart of campus), his life has been influenced from many corners of the world. His enthusiasm, high energy (he commutes to work 19 miles each way by bike) and competitiveness (he trains for ski racing year round) all contribute to his leadership at the University of Minnesota department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation where he teaches.

Peter has pushed for the advancement of science all over the world. Appearing on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report in 2009, he spoke to the importance of bringing more science to government, his founding of Scientists and Engineers for America, the need for sound science in politics, and the decline of American knowledge of science.

 Urgent need for a Great Facility

As Peter said to Jim earlier this year upon learning more about the planned Center for Science, Business, and Religion, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a world class focus on the study of these disciplines right here at Augsburg?” The family (Ellen, their mother, Jim ’72, Peter ’70 and Mark ’81 along with their sister Annetta Gardner ’69 talked it over and agreed, now is the time for the Agre family to act on their history and values and encourage others to help bring the CSBR to fruition.

Augsburg Chemistry Professor Courtland Agre

The Agre Family was especially moved to support this campaign because of the Agre Challenge, to honor Courtland Agre’s legacy by naming a room in the CSBR. Steve Larson ’71 has announced a lead gift toward this challenge and is asking for support from others to reach a goal of $250,000 before the end of 2013.

Their reasons for making both their own major gifts and encouraging others to join them with gifts of their own can be summarized in one word: commitment. As Jim said in speaking for his family, the current science building is not getting any younger. “It was dated when we arrived (built in 1949) and has served its usefulness. The combination of disciplines will make it a multipurpose space, a place where ideas and people will inform one another.”

As Jim commented, “We learned our values from our parents and strengthened them at Augsburg. We learned to care about others. We are rather blessed. I owe it to others to use my position of influence in service to others.”

They may not have traveled far from their first home in Northfield but their influence has traveled the globe. With a fully funded CSBR, the Agre family believes more remarkable careers will be launched and more discoveries made to reduce human suffering and transform the world.

CSBR Paul Terrio ’87 and Maureen Reed believe the CSBR will strengthen Augsburg’s liberal arts education.

Senior Director of Student Financial Services Paul Terrio ’87 and Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum Maureen Reed discuss the call to enhance the breadth of the academic experience necessary for today’s students to excel after college. As a part of their liberal arts education, Augsburg students take classes in all content areas, positioning them for professional and personal success.

Long-lost manuscript benefits the new Center for Science, Business, and Religion

Augsburg Biology Professor Erwin Mickelberg ’54 and his daughter Susan Mickelberg Siegfied ’72

How many times have you stood beside a still pond or lake and tossed in a stone, watching the ripples spread out?

Susan Mickelberg Siegfried ’72, remembers canoeing “hundreds of times” with her father, Erwin D. Mickelberg ’54. He often threw a stone purposefully into the water. The stone disappeared immediately and yet the ripples continued to move. “Even when the ripples fade away,” he would say, “they change the shore line permanently, a little at a time.”

Siegfried describes this detail in the first chapter for their book, It’s All About the Ripples, which he wrote in 1972 and which she expanded and published this year. She crafted the title based on his teaching: “He would explain that life is not about him or me; it is about the ripples we make that will affect others. Those ripples were about loving others and our communities.”

 College dropout returned to study, teach

After military service, Mickelberg attended Augsburg College but missed his girlfriend, Carolyn Ryan ’56, intensely. He left college to be closer to her. They married in 1948. He returned to Augsburg and received a bachelor’s degree in three years.

He taught high school biology in Atwater, Minn., for two years and then returned once more to Augsburg, as a member of the Biology Department faculty. After accepting the job, he studied anatomy and physiology one summer at Columbia University. Later he got a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of Minnesota.

He taught at Augsburg for 38 years, retiring in 1993. Now in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, he lives at home in Bloomington, Minn., cared for primarily by Carolyn, his devoted spouse of 65 years. 

Until recently, Siegfried had not even known that her father wrote this book. “Dad was writing all of the time,” she says. Some of his manuscripts were published, including a laboratory workbook and textbook. Many were unpublished, and a few years ago he cleaned his office and threw out everything he had written.

 An unexpected contact

Imagine the family’s delight when a former student made contact to say she had run across a manuscript Mickelberg had given students, and she wanted to make sure the family had a copy.

Professor Erwin Mickelberg ’54

It’s All About the Ripples features Mickelberg’s reflections on I Corinthians 13. He writes personally about each verse to unlock its meaning.

Siegfried, a clinical psychologist now teaching in the Minnesota State College and University System, had been wondering for a long time how to write about her father. She pondered how to address his Alzheimer’s Disease and yet not focus on the anguish of seeing a loved one lose mental capacity. Writing the first chapter for her father’s long-lost manuscript gave her the opportunity she had been seeking.

Her chapter honors the ripples that she still sees flowing outward from the love her father gave family and friends, the devotion and service he gave the church, and the compassionate teaching he gave his students.

 All profits benefit Augsburg

The family is donating all profits from book sales to Augsburg College, designated for the Center for Science, Business and Religion. Copies can be purchased at

As a retired faculty member’s daughter and as a graduate, Siegfried feels a deep bond with Augsburg College. She says, “This campus is where I grew up until age nine when our family moved a little further away. The college community was like family.” In addition, she has three children who graduated from Augsburg: Jeff ’98, David ’09 and Christopher ’12.

Siegfried remembers her father advocating for many years for a new science building. “He would be so happy with the plans for the new Center for Science, Business, and Religion. And he would be thrilled that profits from his book will help build it. My father knew how much the students need good research space. The building is a culmination, a final coming together of what I saw him striving for his whole career. This is a perfect example of the ripples moving outward.”

A Campaign To Blow The Lid Off Augsburg

Making Forward Movement

In the past few weeks I have been lucky to visit with several groups of Auggies. They are taking time out from summer activities to reconnect with Augsburg, participate in one of several leadership summits held on campus, and learn first hand about the campaign to build the new Center for Science, Business, and Religion. In these intimate gatherings we have shared stories of our times on campus, met friends, toured the current outdated science building (built in 1949), and heard from faculty and alumni leaders about the urgent need for this unique building.

At each summit I have been impressed with the energy and talents of the people gathered, their curiosity about Augsburg today, and their eagerness to hear more about the distinctive and engaged way Augsburg science faculty work in partnership with their students.

Blowing the Lid Off for Good

One of the moments that stands out for me is when math Professor Tracy Bibelnieks offered an analogy about Augsburg today. She said so many great things are happening: the college mission, the collaborative work involving students, the strong connections among departments and now, the prospect of a distinctive center for the campus. She compared the college to a soda bottle, shaken by activity, but with the cap still on. The new Center for Science, Business, and Religion will explode and “blow the lid off this great college!”

Jim Agre and the Agre Family Believe the Time Has Come for the CSBR

A few days after the recent Chemistry Summit, I received a special phone call from Jim Agre,’72 who had joined us for that gathering. Jim is one member of a large family with close associations to Augsburg. His father, Courtland, came to Augsburg in 1959 to serve as distinguished professor of chemistry, recruited from Berkley by Bernard Christensen. Of his five siblings, Jim and three others graduated from Augsburg, three of them with chemistry majors. And one of them, Peter, ’70 went on to gain the remarkable distinction of winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. As a recent graduate, Jim stayed involved with the college for many years by coaching the Augsburg soccer team.  Today Jim works just across the street from Augsburg as a member of the medical staff at the University Medical Center, Fairview.

A few days after the recent Chemistry Summit, Jim contacted his brothers Peter, Mark ’81 and his sister Annetta (Agre) Gardner ’69, suggesting it is their time to act on the values they have carried with them from their family and from Augsburg–to give back to the place where they found and began following their vocations.

The Agre Family was especially moved to support this campaign because of the Agre Challenge, to honor Courtland Agre’s legacy by naming a room in the CSBR.  Steve Larson ’71 has announced that he has made a leadership-level gift toward this effort.  The goal is to reach $250,000 before the end of 2013. In addition to an Agre family donation, Peter has contacted the Nobel Prize offices to request that a replica of his Nobel metal be made to be displayed in the completed building. Not many places can point to such achievement in science.

Join Us

Because of people like these, our work is gaining momentum. So many believe in the power of an Augsburg education to make great discoveries, to change lives, to serve and improve our communities.

As you read on, please remember my three requests:

  • Prayerfully consider making a personal stretch gift to the campaign.
  • Think about who you know who needs to hear the story of this special place.
  • Become a class leader and join the effort to raise $1 million or more per class.

Thank you for being one who can take this movement to the next level. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Mike Good ’71

Campaign Chair



Gordon Odegaard ’52 Leaves $2.5 Million Gift to Augsburg

Gordon Odegaard never sought attention from Augsburg College.  He entered Augsburg in 1948 (Class of ’52). Gordon left quietly after one year. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1951, spending three years assigned to the Army Security Agency, as an instructor and manual writer.

Born March 6, 1930 in Thief River Falls, MN to Morris and Gladys (Vigness) Odegaard, he was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith. He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1948.

Following his discharge from the Army in 1954, Gordon returned to the University of Minnesota and, in 1955, Gordon graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, with distinction.

For the next 10 years, Gordon worked as an insurance agent, as a salaried employee and proprietor of his own business. In 1965, he became employed with the Federal Department of Defense and retired from that service in 1995, as a senior operation staff officer.

Gordon also worked as a tour guide at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. He was an avid reader and did a lot off traveling to many countries. He enjoyed all music and played piano for his own enjoyment.

Gordon chose to maintain a quiet ongoing relationship over the years with Augsburg College. He consistently supported the College with modest gifts, but declined all direct contact.  Like many Auggies, he simply lived a life of worth and service. However, his one year at Augsburg College must have been a year that highly impacted his life. Gordon passed away in January 2012. Gordon’s love for Augsburg and his generosity shine ever so brightly after his death.  Augsburg College was remembered by Gordon with an estate gift in excess of $2.5 million.

Gordon’s generosity to Augsburg leaves a legacy that will impact generations of Auggies to come. That legacy of generosity will be honored by a named classroom in the new Center for Science, Business, and Religion.