Class of '73
Greetings to '73 Classmates,
At our recent 30-year class reunion, Matt Peterson asked me if I would be willing to write a class letter. And I decided that it was a good time to do so since I could reflect on the events of the reunion weekend and share them with you. I will reserve commentary on people's lives for the news section and just give you my overall impressions.
The gathering on Friday evening in late September, took place at the Radisson Hotel in Bloomington. Being away from the campus helped draw attention to the fact that the people of Gustavus are the college, not only the location. It also brought to mind the realization that our years at Gustavus do not constitute the only "Gustavus." Seeing the reunion groups that run through a range of ages (of which our class falls somewhere in the middle) reminds us of where we have been and of the times ahead. In the open forum before heading into our class party room, it was fun to be surprised to see people of other ages and from other parts of our lives, and find out their connection to the school. The more time we spent with our classmates throughout the evening, the more the images and stories returned to us. It felt a little like watching a Polaroid image develop, faint at first, and then the detail and colors filling in. Technology was also a part of our gathering, with some classmates appearing on-line for a visit. So the Friday night gathering, in itself, was a significant reunion experience.
But I also treasure the womb, the nest, where we were born into the same family. Returning to the campus on Saturday helped deepen the connection. Like our larger home, the earth itself, it also has a presence. It has grown, developed, changed. What began as seeds when we were there, have now come to fruition. But there is no true end to this process. Hidden to us are the tiny seeds of today that are being quietly planted and nurtured by those with the vision of what yet may be.
The chapel, that central point and symbolic heart of Gustavus, was majestically graced with glowing banners representing each of the apostles, silent witnesses to all who have been part of this holy place. And to see once again those beautiful stained glass ribbons of light pointing to God. But seeing also the clear windows at their base, opening out to the campus and to the world, reminding us of our dual citizenship.
A true treasure of Gustavus, sculptor Paul Granlund '52, was in the fullness of his creative life during our years on campus. He passed away in mid-September, shortly before this reunion. Fittingly, there happened to be a retrospective of a large body of his work on exhibit in the Hillstrom Art Museum, located in the Jackson Campus Center. The opportunity to see the breadth of his artistic contributions and in the setting of this lovely museum was a gift for those of us present.
Environmental studies, conceived by Bob Moline, with the first independent study graduate in this field from our class, has now grown to a major for 100 students a year. The Linnaeus Arboretum has become a living and growing reality. Adjoining land has been returned to natural prairie. And as in our lives, there have been setbacks and challenges to overcome. The tornado of 1998 dealt a devastating blow, but life ever springs anew, and devastation can open up new possibilities of growth.
And Gustavus is a broad place; it will take someone else to report on the sports end, which too is glorious, but not part of my personal map. And the same is true for a multitude of arenas of which I am only passingly aware.
I had felt and heard of the reluctance of various friends regarding attending reunions, perhaps fearing judgment of sorts or an emptiness of meaning. To a person, I heard only positive responses. Finding we are not gathered to compare, but to share in each one's journeys, both the joy and the pain. I am reminded of the words of Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World " …I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do, they're really saying I love you."
Count your blessings this Thanksgiving. You are part of mine.
Gail Johnson Speckmann
1973 Guest Letter Writer
College opens 142nd Academic Year – More than 700 new students, including transfer students and international students, joined the Gustavus community this fall, keeping the total student population around 2,515. The retention rate of students from the first to second year remains at 90 percent. These students will be taught by 198 full-time and 55 part-time faculty. Gustavus was again ranked in the top third of the 214 national liberal arts colleges by the U.S. News and World Report.
The Alumni Fund Turns 50 – On June 30, 1954, the first Alumni Fund officially closed with 1,204 donors (32 percent) and $26,013. The Alumni Fund has had a strong tradition at Gustavus exceeding 50% participation for many years, making Gustavus a national leader recognized with 17 national awards. Help return the Alumni Fund to reach over 50% participation by contributing before May 31, 2004, or responding with a pledge to a Gustavus student volunteer caller during Student Phonorama October 26-November 13. Do your best to participate in the Alumni Fund to continue the Gustavus tradition of strong alumni support and return the College to national recognition.
Sculptor Paul Granlund '52 dies – Paul Granlund died on September 15, 2003, the same day his exhibit Retrospective opened as scheduled in the Hillstrom Museum of Art on the Gustavus campus. He was sculptor-in-residence at Gustavus from 1971-1996. His figurative bronze sculptures are found in private collections and public installations nationally and internationally, including 30 bronze works on the Gustavus campus. Retrospective will be displayed until November 9.
Alumni Board members selected – Seven alumni have been selected to serve a three-year term on the Alumni Board. They are Liesl Batz '90, Minneapolis, senior vice president and director of marketing, Lakeside Investment Partners; Jan Eiffert Hoomani '62, Raleigh, NC, Realtor, JB Realty; Jim Malmquist '53, Scandia, MN, retired athletics director, Gustavus; Jan Ledin Michaletz '74, Edina, volunteer/homemaker. Incumbents to serve a second term include Vivian Foyou '02, Mankato, graduate student, Minnesota State University, Mankato; Jason Sawyer '93, Plymouth, vice president, Cronin & Co.; and Dan Currell '94, Alexandria, VA, director of corporate leadership council, Corporate Executive Board.
2003 Hall of Fame inductees -- Nine individuals were inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame on September 27. Inductees are Val Flom Ashland '87 (volleyball), Wendy Ericksen Bachman '87 (soccer), Karen Ahlstrom Bishop '86 (gymnastics), Jay Coatta '87 (basketball and golf), Marv Gunderson '53 (football), Jim Hearn '81 (tennis), Dave Najarian '82 (football), Betty Wannarka Ringeisen '84 (basketball and track and field), and Larry Shelhamer '76 (soccer).
Gustavus Finishes sixth in Director's Cup – Gustavus finished sixth out of 395 Division III institutions for the 2002-03 Director's Cup announced recently by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. The only all-sports competition in intercollegiate athletics, the award honors four-year institutions with the best overall athletic programs. Last year Gustavus placed 10th.
Chapel Program – The Gustavus Chapel program is one of the strongest in higher education averaging 350 students attending Daily Chapel. In addition, there are many student-led programs including: Apprentice - students who are interested in being part of ministry and open to see where the Spirit might be leading; Christ Chapel Volunteers - assist in the ministry of Christ Chapel by ushering, carrying the cross and candles, reading lessons, writing and/or reading prayers, and serving as assisting ministers; Community Service Center Programs - one-time and on-going service programs; Fellowship of Christian Athletes - athlete or not, time for fellowship, worship, speakers, service projects and mission trips; Gustavus Youth Outreach - committed to sharing the Gospel and providing opportunities to serve by participating in off-campus youth ministry; Habitat For Humanity/Spring Break Work Trips - Habitat works locally and Spring Break Work Trip nationally to fundraise for and build affordable housing; Jewish Organization of Gustavus - for students, faculty and staff who were either Jewish or interested in the Jewish faith; Newman Center - dedicated to building a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith; Prepare - build a new generation of believers through mentors, mission trips, Bible study, prayer and worship; Proclaim - Bible-based contemporary worship and teaching; Taizé - a contemplative worship service of music, prayer, readings and silence; Wednesday Friends – visits St. Peter Regional Treatment Center residents weekly.
Upcoming Events – call the Alumni Office at 800/487-8437
Alumni Chapter Events: Washington DC – February 6; Atlanta – February 26; Tampa Bay – February 27; Naples – February 28; Sun City – March 19; Phoenix – March 20; Tucson – March 21