Class of ’85
March 2010

25-Year Reunion ― September 25, 2010

Dearest classmates,

Though it hardly seems possible, our 25th college reunion is fast approaching.  The reunion committee recently spent a Saturday morning working and planning for the big day─September 25.  Sometimes it seems like just yesterday we were trudging through the snowy winters of the early ’80s to get to our classes.  Now, when we’re in the midst of raising families, pursuing careers, and just doing “life,” it seems like so long ago.  But, September 25 is our chance to reconnect and remember all of the good times we had “on the hill.”  We’ll have a 1985 area in the hospitality tent near the fabulous “new” stadium where the football team will lead Gustavus to a victory, and afterwards, we are heading to Whiskey River to continue our conversations.  The committee will spend the next six months connecting with you all via e-mail, blogs, monthly class newsletters from the committee members, Facebook (join the Gustavus Adolphus College Class of 1985 group), and the Gustavus Alumni website – – where you can easily keep us updated on what’s going on in your lives.

We are looking forward to hearing from you all via these media.  Though many might believe their life since college is average – marriage, work, kids – we still want to hear.  Everyone has a story to tell.  So, I’ll start us off with an example.

Jim (Christensen) and I are both teachers and, for all practical purposes, empty nesters.  Our two oldest sons just graduated from college this past May.  Josh graduated from Bemidji State University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a Bachelor of Science in mass communications with an emphasis in broadcasting.  He is a news and sports reporter for Lakeland Public Television in Brainerd.  Our second son, Ben ’09, graduated from Gustavus with a double major in chemistry and geology.  It was so exciting spending the last four years visiting campus, with the ultimate experience watching him walk across the stage.  It brought back so many fond memories.  He is now in graduate school at Central Washington University, studying geology.  Our youngest son, Matt, is in his third year at the University of North Dakota, where he is majoring in atmospheric sciences.  Last summer he stayed at school to take classes and work on campus.  It’s hard to believe he only has only one more year left.

Other Class News

Marc and Sara (Johnson) Illies

  • They have moved their family to their cabin in Alexandria, MN.  Marc works for Alexandria Extrusion Company as chief financial officer.  Sara continues to be a homemaker.  Their son, Connor, is a freshman at Gustavus and plays on the tennis team.

Linda Olson

  • She earned her master’s degree in 2008 and is currently a member of the English department and head of house at Li Po Chun United World College in Hong Kong, China.

Joel Koch

  • Joel is currently living in St. Louis Park and is the manager of mailing services for the MPX Group.

We look forward to hearing from you all, whether it is via Facebook, the class newsletter, or better yet in person at the reunion on September 25.


Keri Hoffman Christensen

1985 Guest Writer

Campus News

Gustavus Announces Major Building Projects

At its Monday, Jan. 25 meeting, the Gustavus Adolphus College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move forward with three major building projects.  The College will erect a new 125,000 square foot academic building with a large 3-story atrium at the center providing natural light to many of the spaces.  It will qualify for a “gold LEED” qualification as a green building.  This will develop a mall extending west from its iconic Christ Chapel.  It will house the largest departments on campus (economics and management, psychology, and communications).  Also, plans are under way to renovate A. H. Anderson Social Science Building.  Construction timelines for the projects are not yet finalized, but the College expects to break ground on the new academic building late this spring.

The effort is a significant early implementation step of Commission Gustavus 150, an innovative, constituent-based strategic planning process that has engaged hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders over the past year.  “These projects will greatly enhance learning and teaching, student recruitment, and institutional advancement for many years to come,” said President Jack R. Ohle.

Alumnus, Kurt Elling ’89, Wins Grammy Award

Kurt Elling, a 1989 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, took home his first Grammy Award Sunday, Jan. 31 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif.  Elling won the “Best Jazz Vocal Album” category for his album Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman. This year marked the ninth time Elling was nominated for a Grammy.

Elling typically performs annually at Gustavus and did so most recently on Oct. 10, 2009 in Jussi Björling Recital Hall.  He has also had the distinct honor to perform in front of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and their 350 guests at the White House State Dinner on Nov. 24, 2009.

Wind Orchestra Tour

The Gustavus Wind Orchestra, under the direction of Conductor Douglas Nimmo, has returned from a 15-day concert tour through Germany, Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary and Austria.  The Choir of Christ Chapel will be traveling to the Phoenix/Tucson area during spring break.  On April 15 they will be at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Sun City West, April 16 at All Saints Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Phoenix, and on April 17 at Lord of Grace Lutheran Church in Tucson.  For other campus news please check the website at

Admission News

Applications for next year are ahead of where they were last year at this time which makes Mark Anderson ’66, the director of admission, very happy.  We graduated two very large classes in the last two years so we need to have somewhat larger classes in order to maintain our enrollment at about 2,500.  Mark Anderson will retire at the end of the academic year so a search is going on to replace him.  Gustavus has had only three directors of admission since 1950 (Howard Holcomb ’49, Owen Sammelson ’58, and Mark Anderson ’66) which is quite an amazing track record.

Attend a Chapter Event Near You!

There will be Gustavus alumni chapter events in the following cities:  Naples, March 14; Seattle, March 19; San Francisco, March 20; Los Angeles, March 21; New Orleans, March 30; New York, April 22; and Boston, April 25.  President Ohle will be attending most of those events so we hope that you will make an attempt to attend and hear what he has to say.  He is providing outstanding leadership!

Health Insurance Available through Alumni Association

During this time of economic uncertainty, many of our alumni, new graduates, and their family members are in need of health insurance.  Short-term and permanent health insurance options are available through the alumni insurance program.  The program is typically promoted to new grads just before and after graduation, but in response to the rising unemployment rate and in an effort to help all of those in need, we’re spreading the word more broadly this year.  This is also perfect for children of alums who are graduating (even if they did not attend Gustavus Adolphus College) and aren’t yet covered under an employer’s health plan.  For more information, individuals can contact the alumni office or contact the program manager directly or 800-635-7801.

New “Make Your Life Count” Website and Facebook Page

Gustavus has created a new “Make Your Life Count” website that includes a variety of feature stories exemplifying the College’s new brand position launched last month.  The stories celebrate Gustavus students, alumni, faculty, staff, programs, events, and organizations.  The website may be accessed from the Gustavus homepage by clicking on the “Make Your Life Count” brandline (in the upper right hand corner) or by visiting  The “Make Your Life Count” stories are also posted on a new Facebook page.  Become a fan and share your own Gustavus story.  When new feature stories are published, they will be communicated on the Gustavus News Twitter, and you may also subscribe (on the Make Your Life Count website) to receive e-mail updates.  To submit a “Make Your Life Count” story suggestion, click on the “Submit your story” link or e-mail the Gustavus Office of Marketing and Communication at

“Come on You Gusties” Breakfast

Once a month, Gusties gather for coffee, breakfast, and great conversation along with a campus speaker.  All Gusties are welcomed and invited to the breakfast, third Wednesday of the month, 8-9:30 a.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard.  Cost is $10 at the door.  Upcoming speaker:  Amanda Nienow, assistant professor of chemistry will speak of her January term class “Chemistry & Crime:  Examination of CSI-type TV Shows & Real Life Forensic Science.”

Upcoming Events

  • Mar. 14 – Naples Chapter Event – Naples Grande Beach Resort
  • Mar. 17 – Gustie Breakfast – Amanda Nienow, assistant professor of chemistry
  • Mar. 19 – Seattle Chapter Event – Bellevue Club
  • Mar. 20 – San Francisco Chapter Event
  • Mar. 21 – Los Angeles Chapter Event – Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Mar. 30 – New Orleans Chapter Event – Sheraton New Orleans Hotel
  • Apr. 22 – New York Chapter Event – The Core Club
  • Apr. 25 – Boston Chapter Event - Bay Back Hotel