Class of '82
October 2001

Dear Classmates:

            As I watch the leaves turn, the temperatures get cooler, and the neighborhood high school students getting ready for homecoming, I begin to reflect on my years at Gustavus.  From entering as a freshman, when I thought the year would never end, to being a senior, three short years later, and never wanting the year to end, because I would not see my roommates or my college friends on a daily basis.  It strikes me as funny how times change.

            Not only am I caught up in school year memories, but also next year―2002, will be the 20th year since we graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College.  That realization has brought back numerous memories of attending Gustavus―dorms, roommates, attending classes, fraternity initiation, banquets and informals, going out to the “barn,” athletic events in the fieldhouse, Lund Center, or outside at Hollingsworth Field, working with Willie, sitting around in the Student Union, walking to the Nicollet House, the Flame, “Our House and Truck,” eating in the cafeteria, living off campus, cramming for exams in Bernadotte Library, and last but not least, meeting my wife―Susan. 

            The number and breath of these memories, and the friends who I share these memories with are remarkable to me for three reasons:  first, these events occurred over a relatively short period of time―eight semesters; second, they occurred some twenty years ago; and finally, the lasting and numerous friendships that were developed while attending Gustavus and engaging in the events.

            It seems extraordinary to me that I could have packed a lifetime of memories into four short years.  The time that I spent at Gustavus shaped my life, both professionally and personally.  Professionally, by forcing me to work hard academically, and by allowing me to meet classmates that I admired which helped me decide to pursue post-secondary education.  These undergraduate educational decisions have provided me a fulfilling and rewarding career. 

            Personally, I met a wonderful woman in the spring of 1981, dated her for a number of years and finally married her in 1989.  Our marriage has resulted in two terrific boys―Spencer and Elliott, and I have enjoyed the twenty years that Susan and I have been together.  I thank Gustavus for giving me the opportunity to have met Susan and share our memories of attending such a fine institution.  And judging by the number of my classmates who married other Gusties, I know that I am not the only one who gives thanks to Gustavus.

            How could it have been 19 years ago that we graduated?   I do not feel old enough to have graduated that long ago―even though I celebrated my 41st birthday.  It seems like only yesterday that I went through initiation with Jim Bjork, Bill Michael, Tom Swansson, John Woodburn, Tim Dittberner, Bill Galle, and eighteen or so other guys.  I still remember Homecoming, going out to the barn, Frost Weekend’s activities―the annual broom ball tournament, and the social get togethers around campus.  How after a day of classes and a night of studying, we would play backgammon into the wee hours of the morning and then have the toughest time getting out of bed to go to classes.

            I find myself discussing my Gustavus experiences with my neighbors and my six-year-old son.  My neighbors, and non-Gustavus friends, are of the opinion that one out of every two people who live in the southwest metropolitan area went to Gustavus, and moreover there is no way that its enrollment is only 2,200 students per year.  This phenomena is due to the fact that Gusties not only get to know their classmates, but we make a habit of meeting and getting to know those students who are older and younger.  And therefore when we see each other on the streets or in the neighborhoods we can strike up a conversation.  Simply, Gustavus is a family that passes on its traditions from one class to another, on and off the “hill”. 

            Additionally, Gustavus alumni make it a point to continue to keep in touch.  Last year Dawn (Abraham) and Jon Erickson, Jim ’81 and Susie (Erickson) Peterson, Shelly and Tom Swansson, Marcia Page and John Huepenbecker ’80 and Susan (Gerlicher ’84) and myself hosted a “40 something barn party.” Although it was held at the Interlaken Country Club, the dress was more formal, and it cost more than $3.00 for all you could drink, 150 friends showed up for a night of food, drink, music and memories of attending Gustavus (similar to the barn).  It was a special evening with classmates who we haven’t seen for a long time―Lazoo, Curt Schere, and Bill Galle, (to name a few) attending and catching up on the last twenty years.  It is a get together we would like to make a bi-annual event. 

Speaking of events, there are two events that I would like to bring to your attention.  The first is Phonorama, which is taking place October 15-25.  There are several opportunities to call: October 15, 16 & 18 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Shoreview

  • October 22, 23 & 25 at the Radisson Hotel South, Bloomington
  • October 17 &24 on campus

To achieve our goal of 50% participation to the Alumni Fund, we will need callers.  Please volunteer for one evening of reuniting with our classmates.  The second event is November 17; Delight in the Season, A Royal Affair at the Radisson Hotel South.  If you haven’t attended A Royal Affair in the past, please request information from the Alumni Office and plan on attending.  It is a great opportunity to see your Gustavus family, enjoy a spectacular dinner and bid on items during a silent and live auction. 

            Please remember that every dollar we contribute to the Alumni Fund assists a student to attend Gustavus and develop their own memories.  After reading this newsletter I hope you have sensed my commitment to, and love of Gustavus.  I encourage you to send in your donation as soon as possible.

Your Classmate,

Richard J. Olson

1982 New Co-class Agent

Ed. Note:  We welcome Richard Olson as a new co-class agent joining J.C. Anderson and Ann McGowan Wasson.  Richard is an associate director of gift planning at the University of Minnesota Medical School and resides with his wife, Susan (Gerlicher '84), and two sons in Edina, MN.

News from Campus:

The Alumni Office is sending this class letter via U.S. Postal Service Mail and also e-mail to those alumni for whom we have an e-mail address.  Eventually class letters will be sent via e-mail only, when an address is available, unless you notify the Alumni Office that you prefer to continue to receive your letters via U.S. Postal Service.  Contact the Alumni Office at

As Gustavus enters its 140th academic year, the 2001-2002 year opened with an enrollment of 2,540 full-time students including 670 first-year students.  The Class of 2005, selected from a record number of applications (2,163), includes 18 National Merit Scholars and 18 international students, doubling last year’s number of nine international students.

Last year Gustavus athletic teams finished 18th out of 395 competing in the NCAA Division III national Sears Directors Cup Standings.  Standings are based on national tournament finishes.  The Gustie women athletes won the MIAC All-Sports title for the first time in its 18-year history.

Gustavus ranked among top colleges

Gustavus is ranked in the second tier and one of the top 114 best national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report magazine.  Gustavus ranked in the first tier in two categories, retention and graduation rates.  Gustavus’ first-year to sophomore retention rate of 92 percent ranks in the top 15 percent of all national liberal arts colleges and graduation rate of 76 percent ranks in the top 20 percent of all national liberal arts colleges.  Alumni giving ranks in the top 25 percent, down from the top five percent and a tier one ranking five years ago.  Raising the percentage of participation of alumni giving is of highest priority for the college and the offices of Alumni Relations and Gustavus Alumni Fund.

Gustavus named Best Buy

Gustavus has been named one of the best colleges in America and a Best Buy by The Fiske Guide to Colleges.  In the 2002 guidebook, the College is one of 300 best American colleges and one of 43 Best Buys nationwide.  Within Minnesota, Gustavus is among seven best colleges and is one of two private college Best Buys.  To determine which colleges make the annual Best Buy list, Fiske researchers combine cost data with academic and lifestyle information about each college and university.  Those institutions named to the Best Buy colleges list are said to offer “remarkable educational opportunities at a relatively modest cost.”  Gustavus is also included in The Princeton Review’s 2001 edition of The Best 331 Colleges.

Nobel Conference XXXVII, What is Still to be Discovered?

was October 2 & 3.  This year’s conference included five Nobel laureates and three other experts who will gave participants a foretaste of what the next big discoveries might be as we look toward the second Nobel century.  This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Nobel prizes and the conference will included the premier of Steve Heitzeg’s ’82 The Nobel Symphony, two art exhibitions in the Hillstrom Museum, and an exclusive banquet with a menu recreation of the Nobel dinner 100 years ago.


(Gusties In Volunteer Endeavors), a day of community service, is scheduled for Saturday, October 13.  Numerous sites have been identified in the Twin Cities and alumni in other cities around the country are participating in the event.  Contact the Alumni Office at 800-487-8437 or for more information or visit the events section of the alumni page at

Comprehensive alumni directory

In partnership with Publishing Concepts, the Gustavus Alumni Association is publishing its fourth comprehensive alumni directory.  Surveys were sent to all alumni in August and information will be used only for publication of the directory and updating database information in the Alumni Office.  The book is available for purchase only by former students of Gustavus.  Please correct or update any information and return to Publishing Concepts in the enclosed envelope provided with the survey. 

New chaplain announced

The Rev. Rachel Larson has joined Rev. Brian Johnson ’80 in the Office of the Chaplain.  Larson will work in partnership with Chaplain Johnson and the other members of the Office of the Chaplain to provide spiritual guidance, worship, leadership, counseling, teaching, and other pastoral services to Gustavus students, staff, and their families.  Larson is a graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, and of what is now Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

Christmas in Christ Chapel

A Celtic Pilgrimage, is November 30 & December 1-2.  A ticket order form was inserted in the Fall Quarterly.  Contact Office of Public Affairs at 507-933-7520.