Class of '84
April 2005

Dear Gustie:

The signs are everywhere.  Robins have returned and are singing outside our kitchen window.  The trees on the boulevard are greening and the buds on the neighbor’s lilac tree that bends over into the yard are bringing color again to the branches.  Children are riding their bikes up and down the street, and neighbors are emerging from the winter’s hibernation indoors.  Spring is here and it’s glorious.  I hope the season finds you well, invigorated, and excited about the earth’s reawakening all around us.

It’s Saturday afternoon and the sun is shining.  My black Lab, Tootee, and I just came in from a brisk walk in the neighborhood.  It seems as good a time as any to sit down and share some news with you.  Let’s kick off this letter with some news from the Class of 1984.

Class News

Since the last letter, we’ve heard from a few classmates and here’s what they had to say:

  • Susan Belitz Bodlak continues to make her home in Colorado Springs, CO, with her husband, Rick.  Their sons Andrew, 7, and Avery, 10, are, as Susan described it, “blowing the lids off our expectations!”  Avery is an avid trumpeter, and both boys are scouts (Avery recently earned his Arrow of Light award and crossed to Boy Scouts).  Susan works out of the home as a Shaklee distributor and is gunning for the company’s Master Challenge—a special incentive prize of $100,000 for anyone who recruits a new member that makes it to Master Coordinator.  Good luck with that!
  • Jeff Edblad was back on campus as a guest lecturer in a J-Term course in the department of biology.  The title of his lecture was “The CSI Phenomenon:  DNA Testing and Criminal Justice.”  Jeff saw some irony in the fact that he was invited back to campus by a department that had given him a, let’s just say, less than exceptional grade in a course.  Clearly, you’ve redeemed yourself Jeff!
  • Kathy Sutherland Lutes is now program coordinator for Junior Achievement’s Exchange City and a Creative Memories consultant.
  • John Owens (Makati, Philippines) if chief of party for Chemonics International.  Following the last class letter (in which you may recall I shared some thoughts about the tsunami), John wrote to tell me that he and his wife had been in Thailand when the earthquake and tsunami affected the region.  He wrote:  “We were in Bangkok at the time and did feel the earthquake, but fortunately were not in the south when the tsunami hit the west coast of Thailand.  Working in the field of development, I see the tremendous impact that Mother Nature can have on the lives of those in the developing world.  Many that we work with were also affected by two major typhoons that hit the Philippines in December last year.”  John and his wife, Pam, continue to enjoy their work in the Philippines were John heads the Microenterprise Access to Banking Services Program.  He says about their work, “We have made great strides over the past year and have almost doubled the number of banks and bank branches we are working with to expand credit and deposit services for the economically active poor.  Last year alone, the banks we worked with processed over 160,000 loans totaling more than $36 million.”  John and Pam plan to visit the U.S. this summer in July and hope to see some of his old Gustie friends and classmates.
  • Rebecca Eggert Thoen and her husband, Marc, celebrated their third year in a new business, and Rebecca was selected for “Who’s Who Among Teachers” for the third time.  Congrats!  But even better news from the Thoen household involves 5-year-old Lauren, who has been cancer free for one year.  Lauren had a medulloblastoma brain tumor.  We hope the good news just keeps coming.
  • Alan Vogt (Wayland, MA) is a self-employed database programmer, and his wife, Deborah, is a Tupperware representative.  The Vogts have two children:  Andrea and Carter.  In February Alan joined friends Jon Heller ’83 and Randy Erlandson ’83 for a reunion ski trip.
  • Barb Schaller Wiggins (St. Paul, MN) has taken a break from accounting for a while to be at home full time with her children—and she says she loves it.  Husband, Mark, is a senior software engineer at Unisys.

If you have news to share, you can e-mail us at:


News From the Hill

Campus Renovations:  A Changing Physical Plant

February marked the beginning of the Old Main renovation project, scheduled to be complete by fall.  Although some departments moved to temporary locations during the renovation, the nursing and education departments moved into a more permanent home, Mattson Hall, which is located west of the Schaefer Fine Arts Center-Music Wing, next to Prairie View Residence Hall.  The building is named after Gustavus President P.A. Mattson (1904-1911), who was president during the time the education department was added to the College’s curriculum.

Other proposed changes to the Gustavus long-range “Campus Framework Plan” include relocation of the football stadium, a new academic building on the West Mall, a wind-turbine development zone, a new social science center, and potential senior citizen housing sites.  If you’d like to see some architectural drawings and find more complete descriptions of these proposed changes, can be found on the College Web site at:

Class Reunion Survey:  An Overview of the Results

Earlier this year a class reunion survey was sent to 10,900 alumni with an e-mail address from the classes of 1960-1999.  Over 2,000 people responded with every year represented among the respondents.  Of those responding, 42 percent have attended a reunion, 51 percent reported they have not attended but with reason, and 7 percent have not attended and do not plan on attending a reunion in the future.

Note: Because of the way the survey was set up, only those who responded “have attended” or “have not attended with reason” responded to the following questions for which results are noted:

  • The top factors relating to attendance were listed as day of the week, feeling of connection with Gustavus, location, and who was attending for those who have been to a reunion.  For those who have not been to a reunion, professional/social/personal commitments, date, and location were listed as the top reasons to not attend.

·        Talking with classmates, seeing the campus, and class social gathering with no program were the activities reported as very important or important by both the groups (attended and have not attended with reason).

·        Attending athletic events, attending a concert by Gustavus musical groups, and a chapel service were reported as the most important homecoming events.

·        For those who have attended a reunion, Friday evening and Saturday were the preferred days to attend a reunion.  For those who have not attended a reunion, only Saturday is the preferred day.

·        A higher percentage for both groups reported they would attend a reunion in St. Peter if a Friday night event were held in St. Peter for both groups (69 percent for “have attended “ and 62 percent for “have not attended”) than if a Friday night event were held in the Twin Cities (63 percent and 52 percent, respectively).  

·        Both groups showed strong support for staying in area hotels with rooms blocked off for alumni if a Friday night event were to be held.

For the group that has attended a reunion, 81 percent were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the time of year the reunion was held and 73 percent felt the same about the cost.

An opportunity to comment was provided for those who have never attended and do not plan to in the future.  Overwhelmingly, the comments were centered around not feeling “connected” to Gustavus while here as students, or feel they have lost the connection since graduating.

The majority of those who have not attended with reason explained that they have moved too far away from “the hill” to make travel for just the reunion worthwhile.  Most were also explicit in explaining that it was not bad feelings towards Gustavus.

The rest who have not attended with reason found the time of year to be problematic with their employment.

There was a strong sentiment in the comments section by all groups that events should be held in St. Peter for the entire reunion.  Many felt strongly that they “went to Gustavus in St. Peter and that’s where they should celebrate their college reunion,” while others felt it was more problematic to travel to the Twin Cities on Friday night and then to St. Peter on Saturday, especially when living in out-state Minnesota and out of state.

There was also strong sentiment to make a distinction between “reunion” events and “Homecoming” events.

Overall, the response was phenomenal and reinforced the ideology that reunions are about seeing classmates while in familiar surroundings.

In the next class letter, I’ll share some results from our class.

Service Learning Accounting Style

An oft-heard term across college campuses today is “service learning,” and Gustavus is no different.  In case this is a new term to you, service learning is a teaching and learning approach that integrates community service with academic study to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities, while engaging students in reflection upon what was experienced, how the community was benefited, and what was learned.  Last semester, Gustavus students worked with Nicollet County, St. Peter, and College officials to analyze several proposed projects that may soon impact the St. Peter and Mankato area.  The projects, a service learning component of Professor Michael Klimesh’s cost accounting class, looked at topics ranging from septic systems, to bike trails from St. Peter to Mankato, to wind power at Gustavus.  The students worked closely with experts to determine possible financing, feasibility, and overall benefits of the projects.

MAYDAY! Conference Will Focus on the Environment

The 25th annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference will be May 4.  This year’s conference, “Energy for Peace,” will feature a morning keynote address titled “Peace on Earth:  Why the Environment Matters to 21st Century Security,” by Mark Hertsgaard, journalist, environment correspondent, and accomplished author from San Francisco, and an afternoon keynote address titled “On the Open Spaces of Democracy,” by Terry Tempest Williams, celebrated author, essayist, and nature writer from Salt Lake City.  Afternoon sessions will also focus on wind power and renewable energy.  The conference is free and open to all.  Check out the College Web site for more information.

Professor From Our Days on the Hill Passes Away

Some of you may remember Professor Jack Clark ’52 from our days on the hill.  I have sad news to share:  Professor Clark, who taught religion and classics at Gustavus from 1962-1999, died on March 7.  In 1974, he was named the fourth recipient of the Edgar Carlson Award for Innovative Teaching.  In presenting the award, his colleague John Kendall ’49, remarked, “Jack Clark is demanding where his colleagues are concerned, and he has difficulty disguising his feelings when confronted with fuzzy thinking or a poorly developed argument.  He is also demanding of his students and will use a variety of devices to get them to do their very best.  But, most of all, he is demanding of himself.”  A memorial service for Professor Clark is scheduled for Sunday, May 15, at 5:00 p.m. in Christ Chapel and all are invited.

Financial Matters

For those of you interested in learning more about planning for your financial future, the Gustavus Gift Planning Web site is a resource for all alumni.  The site explores some basics, like the need for a will and health care proxy.  It also provides information about planning for the transfer of assets to benefit you and your family, a gift calculator to see how to make a gift that pays you and also provides tax benefits, e-brochures for more information, and tips on how to have a meaningful impact on a non-profit organization important to you.  To learn, go to, click on Giving to Gustavus on the home page, and then click on Planned (and Estate) Giving Resources.

For those of you interested in the status of the Class of 1984’s participation in the Annual Fund, here’s where things stand from a report class agents received in April):

                                                      To Date                              Last Year

Donors                                  157 (31%)                         188

Unrestricted Alumni Fund      $12,069.78                        $11,463.61

Total Dollar Credit                 $24,415.67                        $21,744.66

If you have made a contribution this year, let me add my gratitude.  For those of you thinking about it, here’s a gentle reminder that the fund year closes May 31.  You still have time to make a gift—and make a difference~

So, we’ve come to the end of another class letter.  As spring unfolds wherever you make your home, trust that, in the words of Aristotle, “In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous.”  I wish you a happy and marvelous spring. 

Carole Arwidson

1984 Class Agent