Class of '86
April 2007

Dear Classmates,

Wow, it’s been a long time coming for this class letter!  Hope you’re all doing well and finding free time to plant some flowers, dig out the golf clubs and fishing poles, or go for a bike ride.  In reality, most of you are probably saying “free time, what’s that?”

As you surely remember, Spring is a very busy time at Gustavus.  Assuming you have little time to peruse the newspapers or Gustavus website, I’ll fill you in on recent Gustavus happenings…In the month of May, the Gustavus Choir and Theatre/Dance Departments will each celebrate their 75th anniversary with numerous events including an alumni reception and, of course, choir and theatre events.  Anyone remember our classmate Todd Johnson’s memorable scene in Equus from our senior year?

Did you know that Gustavus runs the Chicano/Latino Youth Leadership Institute (ChYLI), which is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Education?  For its important work with ChYLI, Gustavus received the 2006 Human Rights Award from the city of St. Peter.

A big sports WOW!  Two more Gustie athletes received NCAA postgraduate scholarships this past year; they are the only student athletes from the MIAC to receive the awards.  Gustavus now ranks third in the nation, tied with the University of Missouri, for having the most postgraduate scholars among all NCAA schools (Division I, II and III).  Only Emory and Stanford have more. 

Happy Birthday, Linnaeus…  Gustavus celebrated Carl Linnaeus’ 300th birthday on April 25th with a symposium that included hikes, dance and lectures.  The daylong conference featured presentations by ethnobotanists Mark Plotkin and Paul Alan Cox, and Linnaean scholars Hans Odoo and Paula Robbins.  If you haven’t seen the Arboretum in the last five years, you haven’t seen it.  It’s NOT the big grassy field we all remember from our student days.

On May 2, Gustavus held the 27th annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference, with a focus on food; its distribution, role in poverty, and food sustainability issues.  Among other events, the daylong conference will feature presentations from author Janet Poppendieck, who wrote Sweet Charity?:  Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement, and Mike Hamm, Ph.D., chair of sustainable agriculture at Michigan State University.

Feel like arguing?  Don’t try debating this year’s Gustavus Forensics Team.  They were just ranked 20th in the nation by the American Forensics Association.  Fourteen of the top 20 schools are large Division I universities.

Think you can swing a club with the best of them?  Then you should be golfing with the Gustavus Women’s Golf Team.  They took second place at the Minnesota Collegiate Women’s Golf Association (MCWGA) State Tournament.  Two Gusties also received “the player of the year” and “freshman of the year awards.”

Is it possible to be TOO good at something?  The Gustavus women’s tennis team posted a smashing 9-0 win over the College of St. Benedict last week.  With the win, the Gusties laid claim to their 16th consecutive conference title and extended their conference regular season dual match winning streak to 166 matches (dating back to 1990).

Alumni Awards Announced

The Alumni Association announces the following 2007 awards selected by the Alumni Board of Directors.  Greater Gustavus AwardGiven to those who, by deed, have notably advanced and aided Gustavus Adolphus College:  

  • Russ and Jan (Ledin) Michaletz ’74 ’74

Distinguished Alumni CitationsRecognizes outstanding and exceptional professional achievement

  • Paul Peterson ’94, principal, St. Peter High School, Minnesota State High School Principal of the Year.
  • Margaret Anderson Kelliher ’90, house speaker, Minnesota House of Representatives.

First Decade AwardsRecognizes early professional achievement

  • Jennifer Pleuss Spande ’97, diplomat, Political and Economic Section, U.S. Embassy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
  • Alexander Hill ’97, senior scientist, Medtronic, Inc.

The Greater Gustavus Award and Distinguished Alumni Citations will be presented at the Alumni Banquet on Saturday, May 26, and the First Decade Awards will be presented during Homecoming Weekend, October 13.

Lindau Symposium brings Richard John Neuhaus to campus

The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, a well-known conservative Catholic intellectual, will address “Religion in American Public Life” at the inaugural Lindau Symposium at Gustavus on Tuesday, May 8, 2007, 7:30 p.m. in Alumni Hall.  A gift to the College from Phil ’58 and Nancy Lindau given prior to Phil’s death last April established the symposium at Gustavus that bears his name. Lindau, a commodities trader and executive who served Gustavus as a board member, campaign chair, and longtime volunteer leader, was passionate about the faith-life intersection and the church-relatedness of his alma mater. The symposium, which the Lindau family and College officials anticipate will be an annual event, aims to provide a forum in which diverse intellectual voices and mainstream beliefs and values can be brought together in a liberal arts environment.

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • MAYDAY! Peace Conference: Community Food Security - May 2
  • Celebrating 75 years of the Gustavus Choir - May 5
  • Lindau Symposium – May 8
    Celebrating 75 years of Theatre Reunion  - May 11-12
  • Class of 1962 - 45th Anniversary Reunion – May 25 & 26
  • Class of 1957 - 50th Anniversary Reunion – May 25 & 26
  • 50 Year Club Reunion – May 26


  • Drilling down to classmates, Mike Bryant (a former Gustie debater) was listed in Minnesota Law & Politics as a Top 40 Personal Injury Super Lawyer.  Congrats, Mike!
  • Medea Edwards Myhra works for Coloplast Corporation as their formulation chemist.  She recently spearheaded the launch of a new cleaning product for use in hospitals.
  • Mary Turnbull Lager is the diving coach at Gustavus and is on her 14th year as a swim coach at the St. Peter High School.
  • Karin Johnson Winders lives in Belle Plaine, has three boys and is a substitute teacher for the Belle Plaine School District.
  • Sarah Johnson lives in St. Paul with her hubby, Craig Reed, and 14-year-old son, and works as a clinical resource manager at Health East.
  • Jay Knaak is a doctor at Bois Forte in International Falls, but went down under last year via a six-month trip to Australia.
  • Mary Lenox lives in eastern Washington state, and was promoted last fall to director of social work at the Hospice of North Idaho.
  • Debbie (Sieling) and Jay Dittberner live in Alexandria, Minnesota.  Debbie is a family physician and Jay teaches ethics and public speaking at the Alexandria Technical College.
  • Craig Engwall was promoted last summer to northeast regional director for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Grand Rapids.  He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the American Swedish Institute, serving as secretary.
  • On behalf of the Gustavus Quarterly, apologies go to Liz Weyhmann Freeberg who was listed in the Winter Quarterly as a new mother.  It should have listed Liz as a new grandmother!

How come you never write?  There are many of you who have not been highlighted over the past year; that is only because we haven’t heard from you!  Please drop me a line at: and let me know what you’re up to!

As many of you know, our reunion last fall was an amazing opportunity to reconnect.  For many people it was also a tangible reminder of how important Gustavus is to past and future generations.  The beauty of the physical campus is only exceeded by the power of Gustavus’ academic rigor, which is only exceeded by the incredible people that have attended our alma mater.  One reunion attendee who preached this message from the moment she arrived to closing time at the Flame was Karen Westlund Kirby.  In particular, she wondered (out loud) why everyone wasn’t a member of the Cec Eckhoff Society.  Karen poses those questions to all of us, as our Guest Writer this month:

Dear Friends, 

Have you ever thought about leaving a legacy?  How about leaving a legacy to the school where we matured into adulthood:  Gustavus.  Gustavus is much more than a place to earn a liberal arts education.  To borrow a quote from my mother from the Fall Quarterly;  “It is the place we had those tough learning experiences to broaden our viewpoints on life.”  It is also the place where we met lifelong friends.  Gustavus helped us grow into the moms, dads, spouses, employees, committee members, business owners, volunteers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc…everything that we are today.

Giving back to our churches, communities and schools helps define who we are.  It gives us a sense of pride and meaning.

Leaving a legacy is easier than you may think.  If you are already giving annually to the Gustavus Alumni fund you are helping to create a legacy.  Are your intentions to continue giving?  If so, let Gustavus know your intentions by joining the Cec Eckhoff Society.  This society recognizes individuals who make a commitment to continuous annual giving, not to any specific giving level.

By joining the Cec Eckhoff Society, you affirm your appreciation for what Gustavus has done for you, your family, your friends.  For me it was an easy decision, how about you?

Your Fellow Classmate,

Karen Westlund Kirby ’86

Our Annual Fund is wrapping up at the end of May.  Please consider making a contribution to Gustavus.  Any amount has real value (and reduces the profit of Sallie Mae Corporation).  If you simply indicate that you’d like a Cec Eckhoff Society pledge form, we’ll send you one ASAP.  As you can tell, I’m such a personal believer in the power of the commitment to Gustavus, vis a vis the Cec Eckhoff Society, that I’ll make you this offer:  Anyone from our class who has not contributed to Gustavus, but wants to join the Cec Eckhoff Society, send me an e-mail and I will register you and donate a dollar in your name to kick things off.

On behalf of your Class Agents, I wish you a happy, healthy and rejuvenating spring season!


Dan Murray

1986 Co-class Agent