Owen Sammelson ’58 Inducted 2011
One of the key administrators and leaders of Gustavus Adolphus College over the past 50 years, Owen Sammelson played a major role in the success of the College's athletics program while serving first as the Director of Admissions from 1967 to 1982 and then as the Vice President for Administration, where he was the direct report for the athletics director until his retirement in 2006. A 1958 graduate of Gustavus with majors in English and history, "Sam" returned to St. Peter in 1960 to begin what would turn out to be a 46-year career as a Gustavus administrator. His impact on the athletic department began when he started recruiting student-athletes with then Director of Admission Howard "Hooks" Holcombe. Sam's competitive spirit burned brightly as he influenced young student-athletes to come to Gustavus to pursue their academic and athletic careers. The positive working relationship between the admission staff and the Gustie coaching staff has long been the envy of small colleges in the Midwest and this was a direct result of the efforts of Sammelson, first as a counselor and then as director of the Admissions Office.
In 1982, Sam's impact on the athletic program increased when he became Vice President for Administration. As the direct report for the Athletics Department, his influence on the direction of the program was transformational. During his 25 years in that role, Sammelson enhanced the department by supporting tremendous growth in the coaching staff, which allowed each team to provide quality coaching and mentoring for student-athletes. Sam's vision of the importance of athletics in recruiting and of enhancing the experience of the student-athlete led to Gustavus becoming a model for Division III athletic programs as well as its prominence in the NACDA Directors' Cup standings. Gustavus is one of only seven institutions (among over 400 in Division III) that have finished in the Top 25 of the Directors' Cup in 14 of the past 15 years.
A proud Gustie, with a true commitment to the ideals of collegiate athletics, Sammelson has been a driving force behind the development of a broad-based athletics program at Gustavus. His unbridled support of Golden Gustie student-athletes and coaches has been instrumental in creating a history of excellence in athletics at the College.