Class of '69
30th Anniversary Class
May 28 & 29, 1999
September 20. Incredibly, it's once again time to let you know that Phonorama is soon to begin. Each year summer seems to evaporate more quickly¾ for me everything from July 7th on is a blur. We've had a sort of weather repreieve¾ up until 5:17 p.m. yesterday we've been having temperatures in the 90's¾ and have been able to ease out of summer a little more gradually.
Each season of the year provides keys to indelible memories connected with our time at Gustavus, but I think there's something about my memories of Fall that are the strongest. No doubt it's the connection to my first arrival on campus and each subsequent year's beginnings, coming together again with old friends after a summer apart.
The other evening it was my turn to sit in on a school board meeting in the community where I teach. It was a warm, Tuesday evening with a nearly full moon. I was amazed at how quickly those conditions could help me return thinking about walking from my dorm from the library.
Last Saturday I attended the class agents' meeting at Gustavus¾ an occasion to begin thinking about our coming spring reunion. It was a hot, but gloriously sunny day for the 100 mile drive from Saint Cloud. From Hutchinson on, there were acres and acres of burnished gold, sometimes stretching to the horizon, displaying this year's bumper crop of soybeans.
After the meeting concluded I took a walk around campus instead of sitting in the sun to watch the football game. Probably owing to the hot weather, there wasn't a great deal of activity on campus. It made for a curious combination of stillness interrupted by amplified football game announcements drifting across the mall. Walking through the Union I met one of my former sixth graders, then a nearly new freshman. She was sitting by the mailboxes with two new friends reading a letter, a letter on notebook paper that she'd gotten out of her mailbox sent to her in an envelope! How refreshing to see there are still letters that come in mailboxes in this age of e-mail! Seeing her do so brought my instant recall of how precious I found those notebook paper letters from much missed friends attending other colleges, which I read in the same place more than 30 years ago.
The college itself is alive with new plantings. The new view of Old Main as one drives up from the bottom of the hill is very impressive. The newly planted trees that line that street and the campus walk up to Old Main will preserve this new look.
Johnson Hall is now just a recollection. The only remaining reminder of the building filling that space for so many years was a bulldozer parked near to where I sat in the first floor window seat. The sidewalk leading down to the front of Rundstrom has also been removed, unlike the sidewalk on the side of Vikner that in our day led to empty space. There are new trees everywhere. These little ones will have to look to the few surviving giants for guidance.
As I walked around I found one of my special third graders, Amy, who also choose Gustavus. It was fun to view things I knew from long ago with her. As we talked I realized that the college in its present form, with newly planted trees and flowers everywhere, will belong to her class of 2002 just as the Gustavus we remember will always be ours.
Last May when I visited Gustavus I wanted some kind of Gustavus token to include with Amy's high school graduation gift. The make-shift bookstore in the Lund lobby offered few choices. I settled for a Gustie lion wearing a black and gold sweater. He wouldn't have been my first choice under normal circumstances, but that lion embodied the spirit of this place.
Perhaps because Amy lost her father as an eighth grader, those initial, orientation weekend pangs of homesickness might have tugged at her harder. When it was time for her mother to leave her in the midst of her new life, both wanted return together.
When Amy's mom and I attended a meeting together she said she tried to gear-up for leaving her daughter at college in much the same way as 18 years ago she headed into the hospital to give birth to her¾ with a firm promise of "I will get through this!" A few weeks later, that parting is easier for both to deal with.
I did realize that we do have one direct experience in common with this class of 2002, the remodeling of the food service. The Union now has a temporary end at the foot of the second set of stairs. The caf capacity is reduced for now to 500, which requires extended hours and a soup with sandwich menu in the canteen, which has been relocated in Alumni Hall during the reconstruction.
There are other points where our past will touch new students' present. Without thinking, I heard myself telling old poop stories to another young student attending the meeting. She had heard a folk tale about a long ago president who was adamant about walking on the grass. I recalled that, at least in our time, it was Professor Alexis who tried the hardest to end our "cow paths" across the green. I related what a deeply etched memory that was when years later I thought of his Chapel admonitions when attending a Nobel Conference. I was directed to park on the grass behind the science hall. I, who felt very hesitant and even a little wicked about walking on the grass in front of Vikner was now being directed to put not only my feet but my whole car on the grass behind Nobel!
After some time to walk about a bit, I met Julie Johnson at the Traverse des Sioux Commemorative Treaty Encampment taking place in Saint Peter on the same weekend. We met by the speakers' stage. We hadn't progressed very far toward the exhibits before the early fall heat lead us instead to a drink and Buffalo wings at Whiskey River. We must have lost our mid-July heat tolerance, but what a lovely visit we had!
October 12. Time has slipped again; it's now fast approaching mid-October! Since I last worked on this letter we have a total explosion of color everywhere. Brilliantly colored trees cast shimmering, fire-like images in still lakes, as an ever earlier dusk approaches.
Marking a different kind of milestone, the rebuilding of Gustavus will move nearer to completion on the 22nd of this month. On that day the rebuilt steeple will be returned to its place on Christ Chapel. What a wonderful event that will be! There are still more trees to plant in the Arboretum and buildings to rebuild or replace, but the center of the campus will be restored.
I’ll have the alumni office include other campus news here:
The 1998-99 academic year opened with a record enrollment of 2,470 full-time students (compared with the previous record of 2,389 set in 1988), including a record 700 incoming students (compared to 648 of 1987). Contributing to the record enrollment is the stable 94 percent full-time student retention rate. Students returned to a campus that has been newly landscaped with 400 trees planted last spring and nurtured over the summer. They also discovered that 95% of all repairs made necessary by the tornado of March 29 are now completed. They returned to find Johnson Hall gone as it proved to be "beyond repair," but they also were greeted by a new College View Apartment addition, which houses 92 upper-class students, and the recently purchased Jefferson Avenue apartments (now known as Arbor View), which houses 60 upper-class students. In addition to new carpeting, painting, and furnishings, the campus is sporting 300 new state of the art computers for students and faculty, 28 new Steinway pianos (making us a member of a very elite circle of "All Steinway" campuses), 13 new high-tech multimedia systems for classrooms, new and upgraded outdoor and indoor athletic facilities, and new scientific equipment.
What remains to be done? The Prairie View Residence Hall, to be in place and opened in October, will house 60 students. It will be located west of Schaefer Fine Arts Center. Physically and symbolically the repair/restoration era will end with the placement of the spire and the cross back on the top of Christ Chapel. The spire will go up in sections over a two-day period and the cross is scheduled to be set on Thursday, October 22, weather permitting.
Students also noted the beginning stages of construction on the new Campus Center. This project, part of our strategic plan, was accelerated by the storm. The official groundbreaking ceremony will take place Monday, October 19. This $18.6 million, 51,000 square foot construction project will double the size of the Dining Service Building, providing students, faculty and staff with expanded and improved dining, meeting and office spaces. The Dining Room will, appropriately, be named for Evelyn Young ’33, longtime director of the Dining Service at Gustavus. In progress also is an addition to the Melva Lind Interpretive Center to house the Department of Environmental Studies.
US News and World Report continues to give Gustavus high ranking. This fall’s issue again placed Gustavus in the top half of the 162 national liberal arts colleges in the country. Gustavus is one of four colleges in Minnesota to be in this category. The others are Carleton, Macalester and St. Olaf. The other ELCA schools in addition to Gustavus and St. Olaf are Gettysburg, Muhlenberg and Augustana (IL). Many of the schools with which you are familiar are classified as either a "national" or a "regional" college. National liberal arts colleges have the most selective admission policy, recruit nationally and offer most of their degrees in the liberal arts. Regional liberal arts colleges are less selective in admitting students and grant fewer than 40% of their degrees in the liberal arts.
US News further honored Gustavus by ranking the College third nationally (out of 90 schools) in operating efficiency. This ranking measures academic quality and dollars spent to deliver that quality. Gustavus was the only Minnesota college ranked in this comparison of national liberal arts colleges.
Newsweek magazine’s college publication again listed Gustavus as a "buried treasure." These are colleges that are known as "Hot Schools, Cool Spots." The magazine describes Gustavus as a place where "Personal attention rules--can’t slide by here." Other buried treasures include: Davidson College, Davidson, NC; Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA; Pomona College, Claremont, CA; Trinity University, San Antonio, TX; and College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA. Good company, indeed.
Children of alumni continue to be honored for their academic achievement and potential when they enroll at Gustavus. The Alumni Scholarship of $2,500 (renewable to $10,000 over four years) is awarded to children and grandchildren of alumni with high school grade point averages of 3.5 or better, or SAT scores of 1170 or an ACT of 26. This fall Gustavus welcomed to campus 70 new entering students who are children of alumni. Sixty-seven legacy students were awarded an Alumni Scholarship. This number includes 54 children of alumni and 13 grandchildren of alumni.
Nobel Conference XXXIV, Virus: The Human Connection was October 6 & 7. The Nobel Conference magazine was again inserted in the August Minnesota Monthly magazine and sent to the entire Gustavus mailing list.
Christmas in Christ Chapel is December 4, 5 & 6. The theme this year is The Holy Family. A ticket order form was inserted in the center of the Summer Quarterly and another form is enclosed with this class letter.
The Gustavus Orchestra will perform its Autumn Concert at the Ted Mann Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Minnesota on Saturday, November 14, at 7:30 p.m. The featured violin soloist is Siqing Lu, one of the most important Chinese violinists of his generation. General admission tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Call the University of Minnesota Arts Ticket Office (612-624-2345) or Gustavus Ticket Center at (507-933-7598).
G.I.V.E. (Gusties In Volunteer Endeavors), a day of community service, was a huge success for another year. Alumni, parents and friends gathered on Saturday, October 3 to work together in the spirit of service to better their communities. An impact was made around the country as nearly 1,000 Gusties worked in nine cities including: Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Duluth, MN; Fargo, ND; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; Orlando, FL; Saint Peter, MN; Seattle, WA and Washington, DC.
Recycle your Quarterly – after reading each issue of the Gustavus Quarterly, we encourage you to "recycle" the magazine by taking it to your place of business or worship and sharing it with others. Spread the good word about Gustavus!
Alumni Chapters will be meeting in cities around the country near you! Mark your calendars today for the following Alumni Association chapter visits: Chicago, November 14; Atlanta, November 19; Washington, DC, November 20; Boston, November 21; Denver, February 1 (Gustavus Band concert); Fargo, Feb. 20; Seattle, March 5; San Francisco, March 6; Los Angeles, March 7; Phoenix, March 8; and Sun City, March 9.
I actually do have some news to pass along. Congratulations to Tanya Wassenda Bergman on her March marriage to Alan Haak. All best wishes on that exciting event!
Tom and Deborah (Mattern) Erickson have passed that significant milestone of becoming in-laws with the marriage of daughter Heather a year ago last April.
Jean Hagen Reardon's son graduated from St. Thomas and her daughter married in June. No doubt that made for one a summer in need of some welcome relaxation.
Both of Sheila Holmberg Heileson's children were married last summer. Sheila is a K-12 ESL teacher in Tracy, MN. She works with 70 students while shuttling between two buildings. I'm envious of her expertise, as our school enrolled our first Spanish speaking students this fall. While we were unable to find an ESL teacher, a woman experienced at working with migrant workers in Belgrade agreed to work with these children.
Amidst marriages and graduations, we offer many good wishes and congratulations to Roger Christenson! Son, Daniel Parrish, will celebrate his first birthday on the 21st of this month. No doubt this has been a most exciting year.
Diane (Sather) Gramstad noted that daughter, Ann, created a "clean sweep" for the family by joining the class of 2002 at Gustavus. She joins her sister, Sally '97, and brother, Scott '99.
Donna (Sjoding) Amidon reported that she and Stan "traveled to Guatemala for several weeks in February '98 to work with Habitat for Humanity (Global Village) and to visit Project Godchild. We went with 13 others from our church¾ Mayflower United Church of Christ. It was an experience that drained us physically and emotionally, but filled our souls spiritually. I hope to return to work in the clinic at Project Godchild once I've learned a bit more Spanish."
Greg and Kathleen (Anderson ’70) Gunderson report the happy milestone of becoming grandparents a year ago last June.
Tom and Jo Ann (Jensen ’74) Philpot have a son living in Amsterdam where he's studying linguistics at the University of Amsterdam. What a wonderful place to visit for parents weekend!
Peter Andersen's daughter, Emily, graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in May. Peter continues as manager of plant warehouse support for 3M in St. Paul.
In the back recesses of my brain there's a long-ago song with "incredible though it may seem" in the lyrics. Well, it seems pretty incredible that it's time to start thinking about our 30th (yes, 30!!) Can it mean we're past that 50 thing?) reunion coming up on May 28 and 29. I'll be telling you more about it in future letters, but please start to think about being there. There will be some changes from what we're accustomed to¾ Friday evening's events will all be in the Cities. Saturday's activities will be on campus as in past reunions.
I look forward to talking with as many of you as possible in the coming weeks and seeing as many of us as possible during that reunion weekend. Your support of the college is outstanding and very much appreciated by those students who are now standing in our places. The College hopes to encourage at least 52% of its graduates to participate in this year's campaign. Our class achieved that level of participation last year; I hope we can exceed the campus-wide goal. I know we will do so because Gustavus has a special place in your hearts and because you are well aware of its need for our support. I hope you will continue to include Gustavus in your charitable giving plans.
Jane Norman Leitzman
1969 Co-Class Agent