Class of '81
September 2003

Dear Class of '81

Well, another year is upon us.  I am writing this the day of our class agents meeting (well, I started it on the 14th, it's now the 22nd).  After all of these years, I still love the drive down to Gustavus, and the chance to get back to campus.  Being a class agent, and having in-laws in St. Peter, I'm sure I have kept up with the campus more than most.  If you haven't been back in awhile, try to find a way to get there – a lot has changed.

I usually give myself mixed reviews when I critique my performance as class agent.  I think I can say with no bias whatsoever that we have a great class.  We keep in touch, show up for reunions and support the college financially.  I'll take a little credit for that, but I always think I should be doing more.  For example, we were told that the most important tool that class agents have is the class letter.  A recent survey found that 91% of alumni read their agent's letters.  That made me kind of wish I would have written more than one letter last year!  Well, here I am starting another fund drive with some signs of life.

Before I get too far I want to just mention again that LESLIE NIELSEN is serving as co-class agent.  I have not retired, been fired, or otherwise been demoted.  Leslie's just helping share the duties, and I appreciate having her on board.

Now, the big push this year is due to it being the 50th year of the alumni fund.  Our charge is to encourage 50% participation in our 50th year (& $1 million, but I'm not going to focus on that).  How are we going to get 50% participation you ask?  Leslie and I asked the same question.  Last year, our class raised its participation level from 35% in 2002 to over 41% - and our contributions totaled nearly $33,000!  Again, I think these numbers are impressive, and I can't thank you enough, but. . .  I can't help but think we can get to 50%. 

I dropped out of math in my sophomore year, but I'm sure this means one out of every two classmates would need to contribute something.  It seems like there could be an easy way of accomplishing this.  Like, if all of the males contributed - no - the males and the nurses – that might get us there.  Or, maybe we could do it alphabetically, how about everyone from John Anderson to Scott Klein gives this year?  Better yet, everybody line up and count off by twos – we could have the twos contribute so I don't pick on John Anderson twice. 

Let's try another angle.  Here are the top ten reasons I have heard at Phonorama why classmates have said NO to a donation to Gustavus (kind of chronologically)

  • 10. I can't contribute until I pay off my student loans
  • 9.   We just bought a house and things are tight
  • 8.   I'm going back to school to get an advanced degree
  • 7.   I'm not going to contribute to Gustavus as long as __________ is still teaching/coaching/employed there
  • 6.   I'm not going to contribute to Gustavus until they reinstate the fraternities and sororities on campus
  • 5.   I'm active at church (or another cause) and that's where my money is going
  • 4.   I'm not going to contribute to Gustavus as long as they allow fraternities and sororities on campus
  • 3.   We have to be careful with the way the economy is right now
  • 2.   I'm in the middle of a career change
  • 1.   We have to worry about funding our children's education

Now, I want to emphasize that I am just listing reasons given me in my years at Phonorama.  These reasons, and others, are legitimate factors people need to consider when deciding whether to contribute to Gustavus, or another charity. 

Instead of thinking of a reason to say NO, how about thinking of a reason to say YES to a donation to Gustavus.  If you haven't given in the past, or are undecided about chipping in this year, give careful consideration to saying YES.  If the answer is YES, let us know why.  Regular donors, let us know your thoughts on why you say YES.  I'd be happy to compile a top ten listing of your reasons.  It would push me to write another letter.

One last thought on contributions.  I rarely talk about the size of the donation.  I have always looked at this as more like a group project.  Power in numbers.  The more the better.  It all adds up.  Team effort.  Go Team 81!

Class News:

KEVIN ANDERSON is serving as registrar and assistant to the dean at Wartburg Theological Seminary (& loving it).  His wife, DENISE (SCHMITZ '80) is serving as co-pastor in Jo Daviess County in Illinois.  JULIE FINCH has joined the law firm Rider, Bennett, Egan & Arundel in Minneapolis.  Julie focuses on trademark and copyright law, computer law, electronic commerce and arts and entertainment law.  SCOTT KLEIN is chair of music and theatre arts at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma.  Scott directed Godspel last spring (a show he performed in at Gustavus), will play John Adams in a performance of 1776 and received the 2002 Lawton Arts & Humanities Educator in the Arts.  Congrats!

Accountant DAWN EBELING, Elliott City, Maryland is running 5K races and hoping to increase to longer runs.  Dawn likes to travel, garden and go to wine tasting festivals.  SCOTT DEE is associate professor of swine medicine at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.  He serves as division head of the Swine Medicine faculty and chair of the committee on admissions and scholastic standing.  SHERILYN JONSON  JOHNSON continues to work at Almont Public School (Almont, ND) as the elementary principal and teaches 7th & 8th grade science and health.  She and her husband, Grant, enjoy farming and ranching in western North Dakota.  TOM RENN of Beaverton, Oregon works with bankruptcy cases.  He has been appointed by the US Trustee's Office to be a Chapter 7 (bankruptcy) panel trustee in Portland.  Tom is happy he passed the FBI background investigation.

LINDA NORMAN REDING, Maple Grove, MN, is director of marketing with UnitedHealth Group.  The Minnesota Public Relations Society of America recognized DAVID HAKENSEN for his volunteer work with the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota, Association of Test Publishers, St. Paul Foundation and Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association.  CHRIS KIMZEY, Duluth, Georgia, is a senior systems analyst at Georgia-Pacific.  Chris is engaged to Ernie Richmond.  She and Ernie help run a coffee house as part of an adult outreach ministry.  JOEL FREDERIKSEN, Munich, Germany is a performing musician.  Joel received an award from his graduate school – Oakland University in Michigan as Outstanding Alumni.  You can read more about Joel's activities at under Alumni.

CORLISS ROBINSON VADNER began a new job last year as principal's secretary at a new elementary school in Forest Lake.  Corliss will be attending Bethel Seminary as part of the SemPM program.  JULIE ALTMAN SIMACEK is a mother – to Jack, born in April, 2002.  PAUL JACOBSON is now vice president of product development at Midwest of Cannon Falls.  Paul's wife is a designer at the same company.  JERI-LYNN BEDIENT BUCHHOLZ is director of human resources at US International Commission.  She won the President's Quality Management award for Human Capital Management.  KEN STREIFF is a national disaster volunteer coordinator for Nechama Jewish Response.  MICHAEL GRANAAS presented a paper in Cape Town, South Africa, to an international conference on the teaching of statistics. 

DEAN STAMBAUGH is director of IT at Merrill Worship Music Ministry.  Dean also coaches middle school girls basketball.  KATHY ROE SHIPLEY, and husband Bert, have a son, Andrew Keith, born March 20, 2002.  SUE MILLER SKINNER, Brainerd, MN, is director of nursing at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center.  GAIL BRUNSBERG NELSON is a busy mom who spends a lot of time volunteering at school and church.  Her husband CLAUDE '78 is a pilot for American Airlines.  TWILA BRASE is the founder and president of the Citizens Council on Health Care. 

Campus News:

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.

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.

2003 Hall of Fame inductees -- Nine individuals will be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame on September 27. Inductees include 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). This group will be honored at the Athletics Hall of Fame Banquet on Homecoming, Saturday, September 27.

Gustavus Finishes sixth in Directors' Cup -- Gustavus finished sixth out of 395 Division III institutions for the 2002-03 Directors' 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

  • Reunion gatherings for 1958, 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998 -- September 26 & 27, Radisson South Hotel, Bloomington
  • Homecoming -- September 27, Campus
  • Hall of Fame Induction Banquet -- September 27, Alumni Hall, Campus
  • Nobel Conference, The Story of Life -- October 7 & 8, Campus
  • Charlotte, NC, Gustavus Gathering - October 18
  • Phonorama -- October 12-16 and 19-23, Minnesota Valley Country Club, Bloomington
  • Our Story Conference, The Growing Gender Gap in the African American Community -- October 24-25, Campus
  • Reformation Festival featuring the Gustavus Choir, Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis -- October 25
  • JFK Assassination 40 Years Later, presented by David Jones '83 and Political Science Professor Chris Gilbert at Minnesota Valley Country Club, Bloomington - November 4
  • A Royal Affair, benefit sponsored by Gustavus Library Associates in the Twin Cities - November 15

Before I go, I need to mention that Phonorama is coming up the weeks of October 13th and October 20th.  Our hope is to reach most of the 460 of you during those two weeks.  Could we use some help?  You bet.  Some of you may get a call from Leslie or me asking for your help.  Thanks for listening, and thanks for all that you do for Gustavus!