Class of '53
October 2001

Dear Classmates,

A year ago our nation was pretty much self absorbed in the elections, making money, spending money, and seeing which candidate would promise us the biggest tax break.  National security was an issue for only a small group of analysts in the RAND Corporation.

A year ago prayer was something that was a debate issue between the religious right that wanted mandatory prayers in schools at the start of the day and constitutionalists that argued that school prayers violated the separation of church and state as spelled out in the U. S. constitution.

A year ago most Americans certainly did not appear very patriotic.  Few flags flew.  Few sang the national anthem even at the start of major sporting event.  And many Americans argued that the more government got out of their lives, the better.

A year ago most people seemed unconcerned with any sense of community.  Robert Putnam, Harvard professor, wrote that we are becoming a nation that prefers to "bowl alone."

But that was last year.  September 11, 2001, changed all that.

On the week of September 11, most of us sat transfixed in front of the TV watching the horror of the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombing.  We watched a nation suddenly being transformed from a nation of independent individualists to a united nation rallying around the crises issues in New York and Washington D. C.  We watched a nation that had wanted less government now fervently hoping that their government could keep them safe and bring terrorists to justice.

Last year the suggestion of a national prayer service would have been scoffed at.  This year we attended prayer services in our church and/or watched the service from the National Cathedral in Washington D. C.

Last year, most of us would not even know where our American flag was packed away, much less fly one on our porch.  This year there are American flags everywhere.

Last year, we might have harbored questions about the importance of community.  Not this year.  This year we cherish our communities and seek to strengthen ties to those where we have let connections and interest fade.

We all belong to many communities.  Some are new, others old.  Some are small and intimate, others larger and more impersonal.  But all are important.  Each of these communities is a part of us and helps define who we are and what we aspire to be.  They are both our history and our future.

This letter talks of our community of classmates from almost 50 years ago.  Some of us have stayed connected as close friends.  Others we only think about when this letter arrives and triggers some memories of long ago.  Mostly these are good memories, sweetened by the passing of time.  Enriched as we ponder what we learned and how those insights helped shape our vocations, our relationships, our passions.

It is a good time to talk about communities, to talk about our Gustavus community.  To keep it strong and vital in our lives, even as we move into "geezerhood," as my son, the writer, likes to label it.

We learned some important lessons as we became a part of a Gustavus community, the class of 1953.  We learned the value of service to others and the importance of trust and loyalty.  We learned that good education extends far beyond the classroom.  We learned that there is a just God who celebrates with us in our small triumphs and who comforts us in our sorrows and disappointments.

It is our fervent hope that the class of 2002 will have as strong a sense of community as we did in the class of 1953.  Because that sense of community will serve them well as they move out into a complicated world, made more complicated by the threat of terrorists seeking to destroy the world that we hold so dear.

Soon, many of you will be getting a call from one of our classmates during the annual fall Phonorama.  Welcome the phone call and share some news that we can pass along to our class of ’53 community.

And if your retirement plan has survived the recent slowdown and tumultuous stock market gyrations of the weeks following September 11, consider something for the Alumni Fund just so that the folks on the hill can keep these letters coming and keep us in touch.  And maybe have a little left over to help future classes build their own community.

News from our community comes slowly and sporadically in the summer.  Bud Nelson, Cliff Dotseth, Elaine Nagel Nelson, Bev Bonn Larson, and LeRoy Erlandson check in with interesting news of travel, buying kayaks, counting more grandchildren and great grandchildren, staying busy and active, and counting their blessings for good health.

Classmate Jim Ford died this month.  We remember him for many things including his daredevil backwards jumps off a Twin City ski ramp, his service to the U. S. Military Academy and then as Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives.

We pray for our national leaders that they will act with wisdom and patience.  We pray for all of those who lost a son, a daughter, a husband, a wife, a friend in the tragic bombings of September 11.  We pray for the various communities that encircle us and give us support.  We pray that we will be good and faithful servants of our God.

Tom Boman and Bobby Krig

Class Agents for the Class of 1953

Campus News:

The Alumni Office is sending this class letter via U.S. Postal Service Mail and also e-mail to those alumni for whom we have an e-mail address.  Eventually class letters will be sent via e-mail only, when an address is available, unless you notify the Alumni Office that you prefer to continue to receive your letters via U.S. Postal Service.  Contact the Alumni Office at alumni@gustavus.edu.

As Gustavus enters its 140th academic year, the 2001-2002 year opened with an enrollment of 2,540 full-time students including 670 first-year students.  The Class of 2005, selected from a record number of applications (2,163), includes 18 National Merit Scholars and 18 international students, doubling last year’s number of nine international students.

Last year Gustavus athletic teams finished 18th out of 395 competing in the NCAA Division III national Sears Directors Cup Standings.  Standings are based on national tournament finishes.  The Gustie women athletes won the MIAC All-Sports title for the first time in its 18-year history.

Gustavus ranked among top colleges – Gustavus is ranked in the second tier and one of the top 114 best national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report magazine.  Gustavus ranked in the first tier in two categories, retention and graduation rates.  Gustavus’ first-year to sophomore retention rate of 92 percent ranks in the top 15 percent of all national liberal arts colleges and graduation rate of 76 percent ranks in the top 20 percent of all national liberal arts colleges.  Alumni giving ranks in the top 25 percent, down from the top five percent and a tier one ranking five years ago.  Raising the percentage of participation of alumni giving is of highest priority for the college and the offices of Alumni Relations and Gustavus Alumni Fund.

Gustavus named Best Buy... Gustavus has been named one of the best colleges in America and a Best Buy by The Fiske Guide to Colleges.  In the 2002 guidebook, the College is one of 300 best American colleges and one of 43 Best Buys nationwide.  Within Minnesota, Gustavus is among seven best colleges and is one of two private college Best Buys.  To determine which colleges make the annual Best Buy list, Fiske researchers combine cost data with academic and lifestyle information about each college and university.  Those institutions named to the Best Buy colleges list are said to offer “remarkable educational opportunities at a relatively modest cost.”  Gustavus is also included in The Princeton Review’s 2001 edition of The Best 331 Colleges.

Nobel Conference XXXVII, What is Still to be Discovered?, was October 2 & 3.  This year’s conference included five Nobel laureates and three other experts who will gave participants a foretaste of what the next big discoveries might be as we look toward the second Nobel century.  This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Nobel prizes and the conference will included the premier of Steve Heitzeg’s ’82 The Nobel Symphony, two art exhibitions in the Hillstrom Museum, and an exclusive 10-course banquet with a menu recreation of the Nobel dinner 100 years ago.

G.I.V.E. (Gusties In Volunteer Endeavors), a day of community service, is scheduled for Saturday, October 13.  Numerous sites have been identified in the Twin Cities and alumni in other cities around the country are participating in the event.  Contact the Alumni Office at 800-487-8437 or alumni@gustavus.edu for more information or visit the events section of the alumni page at gustavus.edu.

Comprehensive alumni directory – In partnership with Publishing Concepts, the Gustavus Alumni Association is publishing its fourth comprehensive alumni directory.  Surveys were sent to all alumni in August and information will be used only for publication of the directory and updating database information in the Alumni Office.  The book is available for purchase only by former students of Gustavus.  Please correct or update any information and return to Publishing Concepts in the enclosed envelope provided with the survey.

New chaplain announced - The Rev. Rachel Larson has joined Rev. Brian Johnson ’80 in the Office of the Chaplain.  Larson will work in partnership with Chaplain Johnson and the other members of the Office of the Chaplain to provide spiritual guidance, worship, leadership, counseling, teaching, and other pastoral services to Gustavus students, staff, and their families.  Larson is a graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, and of what is now Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

Christmas in Christ Chapel, A Celtic Pilgrimage, is November 30 & December 1-2.  A ticket order form was inserted in the Fall Quarterly.  Contact Office of Public Affairs at 507-933-7520.