Category Archives: Gift Announcements

Nodland Family Sponsors CSBR Classroom

To meet and know Jeff Nodland ’77 and Becky Bjella Nodland ’79 is to experience enthusiasm and positive energy along with a passion for Augsburg. Both currently volunteer for the College—Jeff, CEO of KIK Custom Products, also serves as a member of the Board of Regents and Becky as an active alum who appreciates the work of the Music Department. They are even more engaged now because their daughter, Emily, transferred to Augsburg this fall and is a sophomore studying early childhood and elementary education.

Now, through a pledge toward the Campaign for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion, the Nodlands are committed to offering their generous financial support, with a goal of strengthening Augsburg’s academic programs. Jeff describes his career as a business leader as being “all about science,” which makes this gift especially meaningful.

Youth Group Weekend Leads to Love and Marriage

In the late 1970s, when many college students were taking to the streets in protest, Augsburg students (including Jeff and Becky) spent some college weekends traveling in station wagons to area churches. They spent their time singing songs, sharing their passion for faith and dedicating themselves to service to others and the church. Jeff and Becky met on one of these weekends and formed a partnership that has lasted for over 30 years. To this day, their eagerness and enthusiasm for Augsburg shine through. “It was life altering to attend Augsburg,” said Becky.

Giving Where It Is Needed Most

When asked what led them to make their leadership investment in the CSBR, Jeff replied, “If this is what is needed, we want to meet the need. We want to offer our resources where the College needs it most.”

Becky said, “We both had positive, encouraging, and supportive experiences at Augsburg. The music, and the academic and spiritual life at Augsburg made a huge difference in our lives and we are so grateful.”

Supporting cross-disciplinary opportunities for students, Paul ’63 and LaVonne (Olson) ’63 Batalden sponsor CSBR classroom

Paul ’63 and LaVonne (Olson) ’63 Batalden embrace the art of the question. That’s one key reason they decided to sponsor a classroom in the Center for Science, Business, and Religion through their $225,000 gift to Augsburg College.  The location, on the second floor between the religion and science departments, reflects their own passion for the connection between the subjects.


 The task of mending the world taking place daily

“The most valuable gift we received from Augsburg was a liberal arts education,” LaVonne says. “The CSBR will demonstrate the liberal arts in a concrete way. The interchange that will go on between the departments makes me want to support the building.”


She points out that “business, science, and religion too often are looked upon as enemies of each other. The new building will be a strong testimony that this is not the case. Each of these disciplines offer more if they cooperate in their world views. To mend the world, it is important to work together across different ways of knowing.”


“Restless inquiry characterized the faculty members with whom we identified when we were students,” Paul says. “They weren’t just posing a question. There was an honest exploration of the territory. This was true in many departments. We appreciate that the values that shaped our own learning environment continue to be instrumental in the college today and as it looks to the future.”


Making a global impact in the sciences

A premedical student majoring in chemistry and religion, Paul took many classes alongside LaVonne, who majored in medical technology and biology with minors in chemistry and religion.


He received an M.D. degree and pediatrics training from the University of Minnesota, and later worked for the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. He returned to the Twin Cities as a pediatrician, eventually becoming chief operating officer, president of the research foundation, and chair of pediatrics for Park Nicollet Medical Center.


While they were back in the Twin Cities, LaVonne received her master’s and Ph.D. in botany from the University of Minnesota.


They lived and worked in Nashville for 8 years. Then Paul taught for 18 years at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Now an emeritus professor, he works internationally to develop faculty who will prepare the next generation of health professionals to improve the quality, safety and value of health care.


In Sweden he is working to develop a master and Ph.D. program at the Jönköping Academy for Improvement of Health and Welfare. In the United Kingdom, he chairs the international Improvement Science Development Group for The Health Foundation. This program prepares leaders in the developing sciences of improving health care.


Now retired, LaVonne taught biology at Colby-Sawyer College in Lebanon, N.H. The couple moved to the Twin Cities to be near family.


Paul, who received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Augsburg in 1984, got to know the College from a different perspective when he served two terms as a Regent. “LaVonne and I are deeply grateful for the learning the College gave us. We benefitted from deeply caring, creative faculty who came to teach because they identified with the mission of the College. That continues to be the case.”

“We want to help students get the space they need to do their work”

“When we hear Augsburg students talk about the great experience they are having in science research and their desire for a new building,” LaVonne says, “we want to help them get the space they need to do their work. Augsburg is involved in significant scientific research. Among Minnesota schools, Augsburg receives the third-highest research grant funding from the National Science Foundation, following only the University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota-Duluth. That’s impressive.”

Rallying for a Slam Dunk

 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?”

U of MN graduate and racetrack entrepreneur Curtis Sampson and spouse Marian contribute a conference room for Center for Science, Business, and Religion

An interest in physics research and a personal relationship with Augsburg leadership helped Curtis and Marian Sampson decide to make a major gift to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. The Sampsons recently gave $150,000 to name a conference room in the building.


Curt’s love for Augsburg College runs deep, though he graduated from the University of Minnesota. His father was a classmate of Augsburg’s President Bernhard Christensen, who once visited their home when Curt was a boy. He can still visualize the black coupe President Christensen drove that day.


Feels good to increase support

Their gift honors family members who attended Augsburg Academy or Augsburg College: Curt’s father Selmer B., his uncle Alvin, his brothers Aldin and Selvin (all now deceased), and his living brother Wayne Sampson. “President Christensen knew our family couldn’t give much then,” Curt says. “It feels good that we can support Augsburg today.” The Sampsons have been generous Augsburg donors over many years, with both their time and money. Recently, Curt rejoined the Augsburg Board of Regents.


Inducted into the Twin Cities Business Hall of Fame, Curt built a series of telecommunications companies headquartered in Hector, Minn., including Communications Systems, Inc.  In 1994 he purchased and revitalized Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn.


Taking pride in a small college’s excellence

He is proud that the Augsburg College Physics Department conducts geophysical research in the Antarctic with other research institutions across the world. When asked why others should support the Center for Science, Business, and Religion, Curt says: “Donors have a chance to be part of a small Minnesota college being recognized globally. We can help students who want to pursue science access a premier facility for teaching and research.”

Former Regent Jim Haglund and Spouse Kathy Haglund Sponsor First-floor Lobby and Study Area in CSBR

“When we see the building, we will walk with a bounce in our step”

 “The Center for Science, Business, and Religion will put Augsburg College at a level many of us never thought would be attainable. It speaks for what Augsburg College really is, and now we can show it to the world,” says former Regent Jim Haglund. “Every time we walk on campus and see that building, we can walk with an extra bounce in our step and a smile on our face.”


In a strong show of support for this building, he and his spouse Kathy are giving $340,000 to Augsburg to sponsor a first-floor lobby area in the CSBR, as well as a study area.


Jim served on the Board of Regents from 1994 to 2006, including on the Executive Committee. A recipient of the Spirit of Augsburg Award, he has been a leader at the College as both a volunteer and philanthropist. He was co-chair of the campaign cabinet for the Access to Excellence Campaign, which resulted in the construction of Oren Gateway Center and the Kennedy Center. His leadership was instrumental in securing major gifts for the campaign, and he was also a major donor contributing to Augsburg’s own Haglund Family Fitness and Recreation Center in Kennedy Center.


Learning to become a philanthropist

Jim says he was not always so generous, adding, “Philanthropy needs to be learned.” He and Kathy scaled up their level of giving after learning what a friend was giving their congregation, Calvary Lutheran of Golden Valley. Jim recalls: “We were being asked to give a campaign pledge there, and I saw what my friend wrote on his pledge card. It was much larger than what I had planned to give. I knew his financial circumstances and knew our own, and realized we could be giving much more. I scratched out what I initially wrote down and increased the amount substantially. That’s what got us going on this path.”


He adds: “I was happy to report after that campaign ended, that we had not missed a house payment, and we did not go without food or shoes. It wasn’t even a blip. Most of us can give more than we may initially think we can give.”


“I like to support institutions that focus on service to others, and Augsburg exemplifies that. I applaud the urban location and focus on diversity. Augsburg is a leader in research, in service-learning, and in helping people from many backgrounds access higher education. The new Center for Science, Business, and Religion reflects the bigger leadership role Augsburg College is assuming in higher education.”


Jim and Kathy learned firsthand about the values of Augsburg College through their daughter Dawn ’97. Jim says: “She absolutely loved her college experience.” The Haglunds also have two other children, Mike and Kristen.


Taking a huge risk to buy into Central Container

Jim is CEO of the recently rebranded company Central Package and Display, based in Brooklyn Park, Minn. He became half-owner of the company in 1975 with an investment of $25,000, made possible by selling the family home and borrowing from his brother.


Later he bought the other half-interest in the business. Under his leadership, the company grew to 140 employees and shifted from being a corrugated box company to offering graphic design service and custom retail-ready packaging.


He recalls the sacrifice the family made to buy into the company, known then as Central Container. The family moved into a rental unit after selling their home to cash out equity, and he says, “Our daughter Dawn was born the year we made that move, and her nursery was a walk-in closet.” They took a big risk and are reaping the rewards now.


“Our family has been blessed,” Jim says, “and it gives us great joy and satisfaction to share those blessings with Augsburg College, a place that resonates with our values.”

Marilyn ’61 and Tom Breckenridge Sponsor Two Faculty Offices for CSBR

Gifts reflect their excitement about cross-disciplinary focus

The Rev. Dr. Marilyn Saure Breckenridge ’61 is Augsburg College’s first female graduate to be ordained as a Lutheran pastor. To recognize and honor Breckenridge’s trailblazing role in the church, Augsburg awarded her the Distinguished Alumna Award in 1994.

Marilyn and her husband Tom Breckenridge are sponsoring two faculty offices in the Center for Science, Business, and Religion with their campaign gift of $50,000.

Their initial gift of one office expanded to two offices

Initially, the couple planned to sponsor just one office, located in the Religion Department space, in gratitude both for Marilyn’s undergraduate education and for the award Augsburg College bestowed on her. As their excitement about the CSBR project grew, they sponsored an additional office located in the Business Department space, reflecting an important part of Tom’s ministry.

An ordained United Church of Christ pastor who served congregations for 15 years, Tom later became a stock broker and then a financial planner. He is a partner in Rossi Dubuque Breckenridge, LLC.

The Breckenridges applaud the cross-disciplinary character of the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. “It is important that all three of these departments are in the new building,” Tom says. “The interconnecting links between the disciplines are crucial.”

“We want to support President Pribbenow’s vision”

“We want to support Augsburg College because of our Christian faith and our belief that the College is pursuing a living faith and not just a ‘head’ faith,” Marilyn adds. “We see that President Pribbenow has a vision for the College, and we want to support it.”

“This year we saw that not all of the CSBR faculty offices had been sponsored,” Tom says. “We think that the church must relate to business. The building is a good step in that direction, so we decided to increase our support.”

Marilyn and Tom met as summer counselors at Camp Wells in Big Lake, Minn. Marilyn was an Augsburg student then, and Tom attended the University of Minnesota. They married in 1961, immediately after Marilyn graduated, and they headed to Hartford Seminary where Tom received a Master of Divinity degree and Marilyn received a Master of Arts in Christian Education.

Saying yes to God’s call, even as it changes

At that point in their lives, Marilyn had not yet felt the call to ordained ministry. They raised three children. In 1979, she received a Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary. Later she received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Seminary.

Her first call was as associate pastor of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Minneapolis. She then was Assistant to the Bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod of the ELCA. Later she was senior pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wadena, Minn. She also has served as interim pastor for several Minnesota congregations and as a supply pastor in Lithuania.

Appreciating Augsburg’s focus on vocation

The Breckenridges appreciate Augsburg College’s emphasis on vocation. “We are very impressed with the focus on ‘calling’ at Augsburg, not of students simply preparing for a job but for their unique sense of call,” Tom says.

Marilyn and Tom simply love learning. Over the decades, both have pursued additional education to equip them for their vocations. Tom received a Master in Theology with a focus on organizational development from United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, Minn. Marilyn completed a yearlong course in Leadership and Innovation at the Humphrey Institute in Minneapolis.

They support Augsburg College to help students discover where God is calling them to make a difference in the world and to prepare for that service.

Oliver Dahl ’45 sponsors faculty office in CSBR

Oliver Dahl ’45 has had an 80-year relationship with Augsburg College. From the ages of 10-15, he went to campus to practice basketball while on a Trinity Lutheran Church youth team in Minneapolis.

The relationship between Trinity and Augsburg was very close. Several Augsburg students and esteemed professor Dr. Warren Quanbeck ’37 taught Sunday School at Trinity. Oliver’s sister Dagmar ’36 married Quanbeck.

Dahl was Augsburg’s first wrestling coach

Dahl enrolled at Augsburg in Fall 1941, and in 1942 served as the College’s first wrestling coach. He left to join the U.S. Army during WWII.  Later he graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in business.

Faculty office will be named for Oliver and Shirley Dahl

Recently Dahl gave a gift to sponsor a faculty office in the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. The office will carry Oliver’s and his late wife Shirley’s names. He married Shirley in 1946, and they were married 55 years until her death. She operated her own clothing design business.

When asked about his career, Dahl says: “I did all kinds of things. I sold real estate and owned a precision machine shop. Later I was president of my own company, Mercury Aviation, a fixed base operator at Wold Chamberlain Field in Minneapolis, servicing private and corporate aircraft. After selling the company, he worked for the U.S. Department of Defense as an administrative contracting officer. He is now retired.

Dahl’s estate gift will one day help athletics and CSBR

Augsburg College is the major beneficiary of Dahl’s estate. He has designated half of his support for the Athletics program and half for the Center for Science, Business and Religion.

“Having a will is a way to direct your assets where you want them so they can do good in the world,” he says. “I’ve been thinking about Augsburg College all of my life, so it felt natural to direct it here.”

Regent Matt Entenza Donates $100,000 to Support Intersection of Science, Business, and Religion

Why would a Macalester alumnus who attended Oxford University in England, completed law school at the University of Minnesota, and serves as Senior Advisor to Governor Dayton decide to join the Augsburg Board of Regents?

Matt Entenza took President Paul Pribbenow’s call and eagerly accepted his request that he serve.

“As a Lutheran, I could see that Augsburg plays a unique role in the community as a leader. It is a place that leads by example. That’s increasingly important in our changing urban landscape. It’s a place that is engaged with our modern world and is willing to lift up everyone. I especially appreciate the way Augsburg sets an example as an inclusive, global educational leader,” said Entenza.

He looks, too, at Augsburg’s influence statewide. Early on, Matt was inspired by debate, having debated across the state during his high school and college years. Today he is excited that Augsburg now provides a home base for the Urban Debate League. Debate offers people a way to test their perspectives and see both sides of an issue.

Connecting the dots for better Citizenship

“I decided to make my capital gift to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion because of the need I see for business and scientific leaders to connect with religion and ethics. Augsburg faculty have taken on this challenge to connect these dots for their students and it has made a real difference as they go on to work and serve our communities.”

Besides making his own capital gift, Matt also decided to take the lead on asking his fellow Regents to join him in supporting the effort to fulfill the ambitious goals of the campaign for the CSBR. Last February he put forward a motion to the Regents asking them to commit to making their own “stretch” campaign gifts, to all join in the act of making donor calls and to share widely their excitement and commitment to this essential effort. Since his motion was adopted by a unanimous board consent, the campaign has gone from $12.9 million raised to current gifts totaling more than $25 million.

Matt looks forward to continuing to work on building a strong future for Augsburg. “I am excited by the way the whole community is coming together for this facility and the people who make Augsburg such a special place for students to become active citizens.”

Mark ’53 and Jean Raabe honor legendary coach/athletic director Edor Nelson with gift to CSBR

Two years can have a profound impact on a person. That’s the length of time Mark Raabe ’53 spent at Augsburg College before transferring to the University of Minnesota for a special program where he received both undergraduate and law degrees.

Yet, Mark and his spouse Jean both get emotional talking about the bond Mark feels with his Augsburg baseball coach Edor Nelson ’38. The bond is so deep that the Raabes are naming a faculty office in Nelson’s honor in the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. They also will sponsor a second faculty office using their own names, with a total gift of $50,000 for the CSBR.

Mark remembers Nelson as being “larger than life, a role model. He was a hero who came out of WWII and embodies values that I admire greatly.”

A multi-faceted career in Washington, D.C.

Married for 57 years, Mark and Jean started dating when she was teaching school in Sauk Rapids, Minn., and he was a law student.

After law school, Mark served in the Navy, and then they moved to Washington, D.C., where he was an FBI agent for seven years. For much of his career he worked as counsel to a congressional committee. He concluded his career as counsel and consultant to the Washington Office of Merck, a major research pharmaceutical company. He is now retired.

Mark is a founder and board member of The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health, a residential “place like home” for seriously ill children from around the world who are participating in groundbreaking research protocols looking for the discovery of new medicines.

Jean, also retired, taught home economics for many years at Wakefield High School in the Arlington, Virginia, school system. She is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College.

“Here comes my second baseman!”

Edor Nelson ’38

The first time Mark got back to campus was 25 years after his student days. He remembers going to visit Edor Nelson that day in his office. Another 25 years went by before Mark visited the Augsburg campus again. In 2001, he and Jean attended a special luncheon and program when the athletic field was being named in honor of Nelson.

According to Mark: “A huge crowd of people was present to celebrate the moment with Edor. Jean and I went forward to greet him. When we were still 20-30 feet away, he looked up and met my eyes, and said, ‘Here comes my second baseman!’ The fact that he would remember, 50 years later, who I was and what position I played for only two years is just amazing. What it says to me is that he cared about his kids. Edor is legendary in that regard.”

Another Auggie showing care and concern

Mark remembers another Augsburg person in his life who demonstrated care for him as a young person. Mark played multiple sports in high school, and intended to do so in college. However, when he showed up at football practice at Augsburg for the first time, he was told that he would not be allowed to play football. Turns out that his high school basketball coach, Ab Strommen, an Auggie who initially steered Mark to Augsburg, informed the college that Mark had been knocked out three times during football games, once suffering a severe concussion. Strommen thought it would be unsafe for Mark to continue playing football.

According to Mark: “Ab was years ahead of his time in knowledge about the seriousness of concussions and the effect they can have on the brain. He showed concern for me.”

“We were looking to do something that would be helpful to the school,” Mark says about their recent gift for the CSBR. “We wish we could do even more. We love the way the school has been integrated in the city and focuses on community. You can feel the vibrancy of the school and its programs.”

Former Regent Allen Housh and Spouse Jean Housh Sponsor Physics Faculty Office in CSBR

Allen Housh began a long relationship with Augsburg College when his congregation, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Edina, Minn., nominated him to serve on Augsburg’s Board of Regents. He served from 1989 to 2001.

Housh and his spouse Jean have made an estate plan commitment to Augsburg designated to sponsor a Physics faculty office in the new Center for Science, Business, and Religion.

They believe that the new CSBR will “make a statement. It will draw attention to Augsburg College’s strength in all three departments: science, business and religion.”

Gift to CSBR honors Dr. Mark Engebretson

The Houshes are honoring physics professor Dr. Mark Engebretson through their gift. Engebretson, they say, “makes a big difference for students.” He recently was awarded an NSF grant to research the dynamics of Earth’s magnetosphere and its interaction with the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field.

Housh spent his entire career working at Cargill. He retired as Vice President for Transportation. His first wife died in 1990. He later married Jean, who worked in public relations for Cargill.

Housh once told President Charles Anderson: “Put me in a spot that stretches me and makes me a little uncomfortable.” Anderson replied that he needed him to help with fundraising. When Housh said that would make him really uncomfortable, Anderson said, “It will be right up your alley. You want a challenge.”

Housh agreed and served as the development chair on the board, and later as Interim Vice President for Advancement. He says: “I had fun fundraising. We were working to help students of all ages and ethnicities access education. It was fun to invite people to strengthen the mission of a college at the heart of the city.”