Class of '53
This is not your standard class letter. Not radical. But a modest change. See if you like it.
My good friend Marv Larson was recently reminiscing about his 50th high school class reunion and mourning that there really wasn’t enough time to fully renew old friendships with all of his classmates that had returned. He suggested that we not make the same mistake when we gather in 2003 for our 50th reunion from Gustavus. Seems like a long time away, but time will fly, especially if we are all having a good time. So maybe it isn’t too early to do some brainstorming about what we might want to do.
Of course, the standard procedure is to gather on the campus for a dinner and a luncheon at graduation time. As I recall, the Alumni Office picks up the tab for all the events of the 50th so we certainly don’t want to miss any freebies. But there wouldn’t be anything wrong with thinking of some things we might add on to make the event something really special. Perhaps a tour of Sweden and visit the sites of our benefactor, Gustavus Adolphus. Perhaps side tours to Finland and Norway could be added to make amends for some of the indignities that Gus inflicted on some of these people as he envisioned his grand scheme of a greater Sweden.
Well, think about it. We have time to plot.
The Nobel Awards have just been announced and that gets one thinking of the impact of the country that is so closely tied to our alma mater. Even though many of our classmates are not of Swedish heritage, that shouldn’t stop any of us from appreciating the good things that have evolved from that culture.
When young Alfred Nobel began experimenting with a way to provide a stable source of nitroglycerin and came up with dynamite, he had in mind peaceful uses for the stuff. He envisioned farmers being able to clear land easily by blowing stumps out of the ground and enabling mine workers to safely blast away rocks and soil to get at the minerals that lay within. He patented his invention and then became one of the most successful entrepreneurs of his age establishing factories all over Europe. He was, at his prime, one of the richest men in the world. The Bill Gates of his era.
As Nobel watched his net worth grow he noticed that not all the uses of his marvelous inventions were being directed to peaceful uses. If I understand the story correctly, he was so distressed that dynamite was being used for ill-gotten gains that he decided to set up a foundation that would give awards for humanitarian contributions. He placed the majority of his personal wealth in a trust that would provide for the establishment of an organization that would annually select the most deserving individuals in the fields of chemistry, physics, medicine and physiology, peace making, and eventually economics.
As you are aware, the interest from his original gift now fund Nobel Awards of about one million dollars per category. His act of generosity has become the world’s most coveted award.
Setting up a philanthropic foundation was not the norm of his day. In fact, the idea was downright radical. I’d guess that most other wealthy businessmen (or businesswomen) of his day thought that the man had lost his senses. Of course, we don’t remember the names of any of those doubters. But Nobel and his magnificent idea lives down through the centuries and has served as an enlightening idea for a host of others from Rockefeller to Gates.
I think we can be pretty proud of that part of our heritage that stimulates people to think how they can use their good fortune to improve the status of others.
Permit me to offer one more interesting and unusual example of Swedish influence for the good.
This past Sunday, Orphei Drangar, probably the finest men’s chorus in the world, based in Uppsala, Sweden, was in Minnesota as one of their stops on their U.S. tour. As luck would have it, the chorus came to my fair city on a day that was right out of the Sear’s catalogue for fall splendor. The concert was not just good, it was spectacular! Seventy-five men singing on key does stir the soul. It even made one forget that the Vikings were playing (and losing) to the Chicago Bears.
Orphei Drangar (OD, for short) has been in continual operation since 1853, and has influenced choral music worldwide. In fact, according to one of my Norwegian friends, the Swedes have probably the finest choral tradition of any country. That tradition is so good that of the two concerts that OD gave in Minnesota, one was at St. Olaf.
Look at what that fine musical heritage from our base culture has stimulated around the world. Mixed choruses and male or female chorus abound. And nowhere is the tradition of fine choral music done better than at our church colleges and, often, at many of the great public colleges and universities. Not a bad legacy.
I could go on with a host of other examples of how ideas from our alma mater’s home culture has provided good things for the people of our planet. But that would take away from you, the faithful readers of this class letter, the opportunity to suggest your own examples.
Why not start something novel in this class letter. Let us have a regular feature of something that strikes you as awfully good, that has it’s origins from Sweden. Or, maybe we shouldn’t be too provincial and open it up to Scandinavia in general.
As you get inspired, sit down in front of your trusty word processor and hammer out your idea(s). E-mail them, or send them in hard copy via mail, to me (or the Alumni Office if you lost my address and just tell them to send it along) and I’ll make them part of the class letter series. This could make for some interesting reading. Besides, it helps fill up the class letter since most of us have retired and our yearly exploits don’t seem so noteworthy anymore.
Of course, I still want to hear from you via the Alumni Office, especially as you drop a note along with your generous contribution to the Gustavus Fund. Let Nobel be your inspiration. Or put on the latest CD of one of the Gustavus musical groups and get in the mood before you write out your check. Whatever works.
At this point those efficient folks in the Alumni Office will insert some campus news that will amaze and delight you.
The 1999-2000 academic year opened with a record enrollment of 2,490 full-time students (compared with the previous record of 2,474 set last year), including 660 first-year students. Students returned to the new Campus Center housing the Evelyn Young Dining Room, the new BookMark, post office, health service, and printing service. Renovation of the old dining service building will continue with expected completion in February. The renovation project will provide office space for student organizations, Office of Admission, specialty dining areas, Dean of Students office, and a faculty and staff center. Summer construction also included the landscaping of parking lots on the north end of campus. The landscaping provides a welcoming appearance to the College and helps break-up the "frozen tundra" between Norelius Hall and the Campus Center.
Gustavus Adolphus College Ranked Among the Best Liberal Arts Colleges
Gustavus Adolphus College is once again ranked among the best of all national liberal arts colleges in U.S. News and World Report's 13th annual "America's Best Colleges" rankings. Gustavus is again in the top 80 of the overall quality listings for national liberal arts colleges. Ranked again in the second tier in the national liberal arts college category, Gustavus is one of only two Minnesota colleges included in the 38-college tier two listing and one of four Minnesota colleges ranked in the top 80. Gustavus is also included in the Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine list of "100 great values" among the nation's 1,600 private schools. The "Private Colleges Worth the Price" article appears in the September 1999 magazine. Gustavus is one of only four Minnesota colleges named a Top 100 Value in Private Colleges. The list is based on academic and financial measures.
Some exciting changes are in store for class reunions. Starting next year, all class reunions, except for the 50-Year Club and the 50th Anniversary Class, will be held in the fall at Homecoming, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, September 29 & 30, 2000. Classes celebrating reunions at Homecoming will include ’55, ’60, ’65, ’70, ’75, ’80, ’85, ’90 & ’95. Reunion dates for the 50-Year Club and the Class of 1950 are May 26 & 27, 2000, Commencement Weekend.
The Gustavus Library Associates Once upon a holiday … A Royal Affair, is Saturday, November 13 at the Radisson South Hotel, Bloomington. Information and registration material was inserted in the Summer Quarterly.
Christmas in Christ Chapel, Even so, come, Lord Jesus, is December 3-5. A ticket order form was inserted in the Summer Quarterly.
Alumni Chapters will be meeting again this year so mark your calendars today: Washington, DC, November 5; Boston, November 6; Chicago, December 11; Atlanta, January 31; Marco Island, February 5; Tucson, February 7; Phoenix, February 8; Sun City, February 9; Seattle, March 3; Bay Area, March 4; Los Angeles, March 5; San Diego, March 6; Denver, March 7.
ALUMNILLENNIUM 2000 - The Gustavus Artist Series -- For 30 years, the Artist Series has brought world-class artists to campus for performances, exhibitions and residencies. This year the tables turn as the Series features and celebrates the accomplishments of our alumni artists as they enter the new millennium, ALUMNILLENNIUM 2000. The Fall Series opened September 18 with the jazz trio October, featuring Andrew Benson ’95, Brian Rowe ’95 and Nik Lindell ’95; followed by the music of Steve Heitzeg ’82, September 25. David Esbjornson ’75 directs a one-woman Virginia Woolf play on October 8; organist Timothy Strand ’82 presents his recital on November 14; and tenor Mark Thomsen ’78 will present a vocal recital on November 21. Spring semester events include an alumni art exhibiton in February; a concert by Neal Hagberg ’81 and Leandra Peak ’83 on February 19; pianist Stephen Carlson ’92 on March 4; and Peter Krause ’87, better known as Casey McCall on ABC's SPORTS NIGHT, will be in residency in April. Other events may be scheduled through the fall of 2000 as well. Ticket information and complete schedule will be posted to the Fine Arts Calendar on the Gustavus website.
Following extensive work to Christ Chapel's magnificent pipe organ this summer, a three-concert series of organ recitals has been planned for the fall. Christ Chapel Organist, Dr. David Fienen opened the series with Organ Works by Charles-Marie Widor on October 10 at 7:30 p.m. Volodymyr Koshuba, Organist of the Kiev Concert Hall of Organ and Chamber Music and the Ukraine's "Honored Artist" for 1998, will present a recital on November 4 at 7:30 p.m. The final recital, mentioned in the MLUMNILLENNIUM 2000, is a recital by Timothy Strand ’82, Organist and Music Director for St. Luke's Episcopal in Minneapolis, on November 14, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The Fienen and Strand recitals are free of charge. The Koshuba recital, sponsored by the American Guild of Organists, will have tickets available at the door.
Gustavus will be represented at several Lutheran College Fairs and Festivals around the country this year. Gustavus alumni, parents and friends are encouraged to assist with these events by staffing the Gustavus table to share your experiences with prospective students and their parents. You can also help by bringing students of high potential to the events or encouraging their attendance. Please call the Gustavus Admission Office to volunteer at 800-GUSTAVU(S). Events scheduled include: Omaha, September 19; Kansas City, September 20; Des Moines, September 21; Cedar Rapids, September 22; Quad Cities, September 23; St. Louis, September 26; Denver, October 10; Phoenix, October 11; Santa Ana, October 12; Seattle, October 17; Portland, October 17; Appleton, October 31; Milwaukee, November 2; Madison, November 3; Chicago, November 7; Grand Rapids (MI), November 8; Detroit, November 14; Cleveland, November 15; Columbus, November 16; Pittsburgh, November 17; Saddlebrook (NJ), November 21; Philadelphia, November 21; Baltimore, November 22; and Washington, DC, November 23.
Keep Gustavus in your mind and heart. And if for some reason it slips your mind, Bobby Krig, the other half of your duo of class agents, will come calling and get you back on track.
All the best.
2045 Woodland Ave.
Duluth, MN 55803