Class of '43
October 1998

Dear Classmates of '43:

Once again the first letter for the 1999 Gustavus Fund (a new name replacing Alumni Fund) is being written after this year's Nobel Conference XXXIV, "Virus: The Human Connection," which was held October 6-7. It is a mind-stretching experience to hear the lectures. We were told that viruses, which are smaller than bacteria, are unable to replicate outside living cells. Once they get into a cell, however, they are able to reproduce at an astounding rate. They also mutate a million times faster than their host higher organisms. This makes them moving targets for those who are trying to develop vaccines against them. At the same time viruses that have been and still are a threat to human life (smallpox, polio, influenza, ebola, HIV) are now in some cases being used in developing vaccines in the struggle against other viruses. We heard of serendipitous discoveries, one that a polypeptide (a protein) found in urine from women during early pregnancy has an anti viral effect and can destroy prostate cancer.

It is humbling to be told of the tremendous expansion of knowledge, which is doubling at ever-shorter intervals. I asked myself whether there is a similar doubling of knowledge in the field of religion and ethics. Perhaps there is, though we may not as yet have found a way to use this knowledge for the benefit of humankind, to the extent that this appears to be possible in the natural sciences.

For the third year one of my grandnieces brought a van-load of high school students from Armour, SD, to the conference. Of the five students, three were her own sons. One from the group each morning came early to the Lund Arena to reserve seats. They listened intently and sent in questions to the speakers. They are already planning to return for next year's conference on "Genetics in the New Millennium." Armour is a small town in a rural community. It is encouraging to think that there must be many more such eager young students throughout our land. Helping support a college that can educate and challenge them is an enterprise worth doing.

This year the sesquicentennial of the founding of the first congregation in New Sweden, IA, of what became the Augustana Synod has been celebrated. An Augustana Heritage event was included in last spring's commencement weekend at Normandale Lutheran Church, Edina. Robert Esbjornson ’41 spoke about social ethics in the Augustana Synod, while I spoke about the first Swedish Lutheran pastors in Minnesota, none of whom were university graduates, comparing them to the first pastors in Illinois, who were graduates of Swedish universities and who had been ordained in Sweden. An appreciative group gathered to hear us and we hope that something comparable can be arranged for next spring, when the Friday program for the 50 Year Club will be on campus.

Some members of our class were among the ca. 500 who gathered September 18-21 at the Chautauqua Institution near Jamestown, NY, for the Augustana Heritage Sesquicentennial Gathering. Bishop Herbert Chilstrom, Chaplain of the House of Representatives James Ford ’53, Pacific Lutheran University Professor Lyman Lundeen x52, and Bishop Krister Stendahl spoke at the plenary sessions. Saturday morning was devoted to Augustana ministries and one could choose to attend two of ten presentations. Howard Olson spoke on the World Missions panel and I was one of the speakers on the theology and theological education panel. There are plans to continue to hold such gatherings; the next one is planned for Augustana College, Rock Island, IL, in the year 2000. It was good to see old friends, though there were so many that it was not possible to visit at any length with all of them.

Due in part to the tornado, our 55th anniversary reunion was held last May on Friday in Edina and on Saturday on campus. Some attended the banquet at the Radisson South Hotel on Friday, others the banquet on campus in the Lund Center on Saturday. The largest group gathered at our home for lunch on Saturday. We had a good time visiting together and I hope we need not wait five years to meet again. As members of the 50 Year Club we can return each commencement as guests of the College. Please plan now to return to the campus May 28-29, 1999.

Here is some other news from the campus:

Campus News:

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.

National Rankings

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.

Changes are being made in Phonorama this year. Class agents have been informed that they need call only during reunion years. Students who have been specially trained will be calling throughout the year. One reason for the change is that it has been difficult to recruit a sufficient number of callers, especially for the larger classes. It is hoped that in this way as more alumni are reached there will also be a higher percentage of participation in the Gustavus Fund. While it has been possible for me to reach most of the members of our class, after thirty years of calling, except for four sabbaticals, I am willing to see the calling done by others. I'm sure you will enjoy hearing from students. They are the reason we have been giving our annual gifts.

This past year 81 of the 103 on our class list gave 9,048.00 in unrestricted dollars, while the total amount received (most of it in one large bequest) was $118, 555.56. Our percentage of participation was 78.6%. I was somewhat disappointed that 13, who had given in 1997, failed to give this past year. If this were simply a matter of oversight, we'd be especially happy to hear from you this year. We have already made a good beginning in giving to this year's fund, with 25 class members giving $l,055.00 in unrestricted funds, while the total class credit is $3,635.00. Let us keep up the good work!

The needs of the College have understandably been increased by the tornado of March 29, despite the excellent insurance that has covered most of the losses. Just as some homeowners have decided not simply to restore their damaged homes, but to improve them (we have enclosed our porch with windows as well as screens), so the College has resolved to build a greater Gustavus. Construction to enlarge the Student Union has begun a year ahead of schedule. Additional dormitory rooms have been built for a somewhat enlarged student body. I'm sure you will want to support this encouraging growth and development.

I regret to report that for this year we have four death notices. Wayne L. (Foozy) Johnson, Geneva, NY, died March 2, 1998. He had taught physical education and been track and football coach prior to his retirement. James A. Erckenbrack, Bloomington, died June 10, 1998. After his freshman year at Gustavus he studied pharmacy and practiced until his retirement at Snyder Drugs, 98th & Lyndale. Muriel Lundberg Peterson, Edina, died August 3, 1998. Muriel entered Gustavus in 1940 and finished in three years and was married to the late Warren P. Peterson, also a member of our class. Muriel was owner/operator of Heidi Imports in Edina. Robert E. Olson, Hector, also known as Hector Bob, died August 28. His field was agricultural economics and he visited on official duty all 50 states and 22 foreign countries. I attended his funeral and spoke, sharing some college reminiscences. George Hulstrand was also in attendance.

The one news note I have also concerns George Hulstrand, Willmar, who was conferred the title of senior counselor by A. M. (Sandy) Keith, chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, at the 1998 convention of the Minnesota State Bar Association. George, who has a 50-year tenure as a lawyer, was cited for his advancement of the profession of law, as well as leadership and participation in community affairs. Congratulations George!

Thanks again for gifts given during this past year. Since I will not be calling, please include news notes that can be shared in these letters with gifts you send. Best wishes as we approach the holiday season!

Sincerely yours,

Bernie Erling,

1943 Class Agent