Recent News from Campuses
Barbara (Braseth) Johnson, a 1953 graduate, recently published her first book.
After having taught high school business courses in Minnesota and Iowa for 34 years, Johnson became interested in writing her memoirs after taking a creative writing class at Waldorf University in Forest City in 2016.
At 88 years young, Johnson published “The Back Door People: Memories of the Houses Where I Lived.” The little girl on the cover of the book is Johnson at age 11.
“One of the chapters of my book is a story about my being recruited to Concordia College with the offer of a $50 scholarship because I was salutatorian of my 1949 high school graduating class at Mahnomen High School,” Johnson said. “Lots of changes since then.”
She gave each house a name like the books on a library shelf. In the introduction to the book, Johnson says: “My childhood memories are all shelved away in my mind in volumes called houses – houses with names – the houses we lived in when I was growing up in the Great Depression.”
“Each house,” she added, “determined who our neighbors and playmates were, how far we walked to school and Sunday school, how far we carried the groceries … and whether or not we had to face heel-nipping dogs or intimidating bullies.”
Johnson’s daughter, Jenny Johnson Conrad, a 1986 Concordia grad, helped with self-publishing the book on Amazon, which has garnered nice reviews.alumna-publishes-her-first-book
For the past three years, Concordia students and alumni have taught English to village children through an initiative of the Grumeti Fund, which is based in this area of Tanzania. The partnership with Concordia College and Concordia Language Villages began with 90 elementary-age students at one site in 2017 and has expanded to four sites and 480 students for summer 2020. Concordia alumni with backgrounds in teaching can apply to be a part of the team that will teach in Tanzania for four weeks.
Concordia graduate Helene Danielson ’96 teaches middle school in Brainerd, Minn., and participated in the program last summer.
“I had really high expectations for what this experience would be for me. Honestly, the trip exceeded those expectations,” Danielson says. “I could never have predicted the depth of the connections made and the way that the experience continues to shape my thinking each day.”
Danielson says having experience as a middle school teacher was helpful, but it’s also helpful that regardless of where they are, children are children in their inner beauty and unpredictability. She says the teams working with the children meshed well and were able to enjoy the nature of the region.
“It was amazing to witness the animals in nature and to learn about the conservation work being done. My travel group were strangers who became like family,” Danielson says. “Each individual in our team brought their talents, their positivity, and their sense of adventure. We lived together, planned together, explored the market together. We enjoyed each other and grew from each other’s strengths.”
In her fourth year serving as dean of the program, Dr. Patty Gulsvig in Concordia’s department of education loves to see the learning process with the students and knows the importance of their work. While primary school is taught in Swahili with 40 minutes of English each day, secondary school is taught in English making the transition difficult for students.
“The commitment from the Grumeti Fund has been wonderful,” Gulsvig says, noting the teaching opportunity wouldn’t be possible without funding and coordination from the conservation group. “Concordia Language Villages has also offered professional development workshops for Tanzanian teachers in January for the last two years, with a third scheduled this year. These teacher participants then get to see in action what we are doing with the kids during the summer program.”
Sarah Bjelde ’83 also worked in the program as the associate director last summer. A former dean of the French Language Village and a Concordia alumna, she questioned if the adventure would be too much for her. Bjelde quickly adapted and came to love the experience, including working with the Concordia students on the trip.
“Cobber students whose ideas and energy filled our ‘classroom’ spaces with music and laughter was gratifying,” Bjelde says. “The care they took in preparing fun and interesting lessons filled me with a newfound pride in being a Concordia graduate. It was captivating to observe a new generation at work.”
Both Bjelde and Danielson recommend the program to other Cobber alumni and know it will enrich the life of anyone who takes the leap to teach in the program.
The 2020 program is May 27 through June 29.
Concordia alumni, students, faculty, and staff are not strangers to the “Hymn to Concordia.” New students are welcomed to Concordia with this song at convocation and graduating seniors are sent off with it at commencement. Written in 1931 for Concordia’s 40th anniversary, the song was a collaborative effort. Herman W. Monson, choir director from 1923 to 1937 and director of the School of Music from 1923 to 1939, composed the music. Borghild Torvick, a 1931 Concordia graduate, wrote some of the lyrics as part of an assignment and later submitted them for a poetry contest. Mrs. Paul A. Rasmussen, wife of a history and political science faculty member, completed the lyrics for the second stanza. The hymn was dedicated to Helga Fjelstad, longtime matron of the school and second mother to many Cobbers.
While “Hymn to Concordia” is one of the most recognized songs of Concordia, many others have been written during the school’s history. In 1931, Monson also authored and composed “Concordia Forever,” the college’s field song, which was dedicated to Cobber athletics. “Stand Up and Cheer” and “Wherever in the World You Go” have also been staple songs for Cobber coeds. The latter song, which appeared prior to 1940, was written for alumni to honor the school. The lyrics are as follows:
Wherever in the world you go
You’ll hear just the same old song.
It’s borne on all the winds that blow,
From hearts that are brave and strong.
Oh we’ll not forget our Alma Mater
Though our college days are o’er.
We will always love our dear C. C.
As we did in days of yore.
Maroon and Gold will be the colors,
That will make our pulses throb;
Concordia to you, we will e’er be true:
Here’s hurrah to you C. C.
Songs were not the only way to show Cobber pride. The college also had a number of “college yells” for athletic competitions, the “official” one being “C-o-n, c-o-r, d-i-a, rah, rah, rah rah rah, urah, urah, Concordia.” From songs to yells to cheers, Cobber pride has been a part of the Concordia family throughout its history.
– Contributed by Lisa Sjoberg, former college archivistcobber-pride-concordia-songs-and-cheers
Millions turn their eyes to the sky each year to watch the precision flying of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. Beginning in 2020 audiences will see Concordia graduate Brian Kesselring ’00 flying the number one jet as the commanding officer of the “Angels.”
Kesselring, a native of Fargo who majored in physics, mathematics and business administration at Concordia, most recently served as the commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 81. He was selected by a panel of nine admirals and former commanding officers to serve as the Blue Angels’ commander.
“Being selected to represent the Navy and the Marine Corps team as the CO and flight leader of the Blue Angels is very humbling,” Kesselring says. “To perform its mission of helping inspire a culture of excellence and service to country by conducting flight demonstrations and community outreach is such a great honor.”
Through the years the Blue Angels have influenced Kesselring both personally and professionally he says. Now he will be leading the team of 141 members who serve as ambassadors to the Navy and Marines.
“Our pilots and maintenance and support teams strive to inspire our audiences to follow their dreams and pursue excellence in all they do,” says Kesselring.
Realizing his college goals is something Kesselring says he owes to Concordia faculty and staff who mentored him. He completed his three majors while competing in varsity basketball and track and field.
“Each one of those professors chose to help me for nothing more than the sense of helping a young man realize his potential,” he added. “I’m forever appreciative of their long hours, dedication, sense of team, and higher calling. The greatest takeaway from my Concordia experience was the absolute dedication of my professors and coaches.”
And beginning in November, the Blue Angels and air show attendees will get to enjoy Kesselring’s dedication to being a naval aviator at the top of his craft.commanding-the-blue-angels
Natalie Siede ’20 won the Dr. Christopher C. Joyner Memorial Award as a student participating in the Lutheran College Washington Semester Program (LCWS), where she interned for the Anti-Defamation League.
Siede received the surprise on the final Wednesday before her program ended. The award recognizes academic excellence in students that take part in the LCWS program.
“I was definitely surprised and really honored and humbled. I studied with some really brilliant people; everyone was so thoughtful and articulate and hardworking. It was a big deal to me to be recognized for going beyond the status quo when the status quo was already at such a high regard,” Siede said. “It was great and really memorable; it was an amazing capstone for my time there and I wish I could have shared it with my classmates because I think everyone was deserving of it.”
Political science professor and department chair Dr. Rebecca Moore noted this is a significant award showing Siede’s excellence as a student and intern.
“Receiving the prize, which honors the memory of Dr. Chris Joyner, former LCWS faculty member and professor of international law at Georgetown University, constitutes a significant academic accomplishment,” Moore said. “Ultimately, it also reflects Natalie’s hardworking nature, intellectual curiosity, and determination to go the extra mile in her academic pursuits, even while interning almost full time with a Washington, D.C.,-based NGO.”
The political science and communication studies double major with a history minor says that her interest in Concordia’s program with LCWS grew even before she enrolled as a student. Before she began her education at Concordia, Siede toured campus between her sophomore and junior year of high school.
“I was able to meet with Dr. Bath about programs after we talked about my potential interest in majors,” Siede said. “He told me all about students he had that were working on the Hill. It was something I was immediately interested in. The partnership with LCWS was kind of the cherry on top.”
Siede worked as an intern at the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL. Established in 1913, ADL was originally formed to combat hate and anti-Semitism in the United States, with its mission to secure justice and fair treatment to all, but is now also considered a global leader in delivering anti-bias education and uncovering extremism.
In the LCWS program, students are matched up with a part-time internship and attend class in the evening. Spending 32 hours a week doing work for ADL, Siede worked as one of two spring legislative assistants for government relations and a community engagement team. While a lot of her work throughout the semester was research intensive at a state and federal level, she also completed more specialized projects.
“I worked on several long-term projects that included state hate crime reporting data in addition to the more emergent issue pieces, such as writing memos and press releases, and helping draft coalition letters,” Siede said.
Acquiring experience in D.C. solidified Siede’s hopes to work there someday.
“LCWS was a great trial run and confirmation that my plan to try and live and work in D.C. is something that I could see in my future,” she said. “Not only did the experience meet my expectations, but also expanded my views on how and where I fit into political conversations.”
Siede gained professional experience in D.C., but one of the most important aspects of the program for her was the friendships she made.
“The one thing I really hope will stay with me are the friendships I made while I was there,” she added. “My roommates, my classmates, everybody – we walked in and were kind of awkward strangers, and we were in our separate circles but left feeling like a huge family.”student-wins-award-for-academic-excellence
Dr. Julie (Bjerke) Blehm ’74 is taking advantage of her recent retirement to be on the go. She recently spent two weeks whitewater rafting the Grand Canyon. She was back in Fargo long enough to take part in the May Concordia Board of Regents meeting before boarding a plane for Bulgaria and then Turkey.
She decided retirement would be both fun and games. Some very specific games – the Special Olympics World Games – were on her list of places to be, serving on the USA medical team. Blehm’s interest in the program began years ago when her daughter competed with Special Olympics. She’s served on the North Dakota Board for Special Olympics and thought the medical team was a good fit when she was asked to apply for the spot.
“The medical team really worked well together,” Blehm says. “A nice aspect of Special Olympics is in most cases they are really good sports. It’s a very positive environment.”
All athletes can get sick or injured though, so the team of three medical doctors and three athletic trainers were available to assist the U.S. athletes during their competition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This is the fourth time Blehm has been a part of the medical team for the Special Olympic World Games. She’s also traveled to South Korea, Los Angeles and Austria. Blehm says the athletes’ medical needs are as varied as the people themselves.
“There are some sports-related injuries, sprains and falls. Many of the athletes may also have other medical conditions,” Blehm says.
The medical team had to be on-call to treat the athletes’ medical needs even when they weren’t competing. Blehm thought the team makeup of trainers and doctors was a great blend for the athletes.
“If there was an ankle injury that needed wrapping we’d always call on the trainers because they are just much better at it. And if there was something more internal they’d call on the doctors,” she says.
While everyone spent a lot of time working with the athletes, they also had a bit of time to get to see the host country including the Grand Mosqu in Abu Dhabi. Blehm says the United Arab Emirates was extremely welcoming and referred to the athletes, all of whom have some sort of disability, as “people of determination.”
“I liked that,” Blehm says. Over the years, she’s also liked watching high school and college athletes volunteer with Special Olympics, which is usually a learning experience for all involved. More often than not, other athletes will see the athletes with disabilities in a whole new light.
“They see that [people with special needs] can be happy and can have very fulfilled lives,” Blehm says. “It’s a good reminder that they also contribute to society.”attending-to-special-athletes
Amanda (Hams) Melby Crisalli ’96 starred in “Raising Buchanan,” a full-length feature film that premiered in April at the Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theatres as an official selection of the Phoenix Film Festival. The film, written and directed by Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner Bruce Dellis, won Best Arizona Feature at the festival and Best Dramedy Feature at the Manhattan Film Festival.
Filmed in and around Phoenix and Prescott in 2017, the film tells the comedic tale of a woman named Ruth (portrayed by Amanda Melby) who steals the corpse of much-maligned President James Buchanan with the hope of scoring a large payday, only to find that no one out there has much interest in getting him back.
Melby, who boasts an extensive background in independent film, had double duty as actor and producer for “Raising Buchanan,” which was produced entirely with a local crew including 28 interns from surrounding colleges and universities.
Melby came to Concordia with a cello scholarship and majored in it at first, but found it difficult to meet the requirements for a double major in theatre and music. She ended up dropping the music major and picking up an English major instead. After changing her major, she still took lessons and played in the orchestra.
After graduating, Melby taught private lessons along with dabbling in some ensembles, but ultimately settled on theatrical pursuits.
“I came back to the same issue I had in college. There was not enough time to pursue two different crafts, though I still play occasionally and teach my daughter,” Melby said. “I also play cello in in the film, which was fun.”
After stints in Cleveland, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and San Diego, Melby made her way to Phoenix where she owns Verve Studios and teaches acting. Verve offers summer camps for young actors where they take an educational approach to making a movie.
“Many of the kids only have theatre experience, so getting on a movie set for the first time can be intimidating,” she said. “We take the fear out of it by teaching them about the process as we go. And we end up with some fun short movies.”
In addition to acting in several feature films, Melby has an impressive list of credits as producer, writer and director, mostly for short films made at Verve. She is also a three-time Emmy nominee for her work as producer and host of “Screen Wars,” a weekly television show featuring short films made across Arizona.
In “Raising Buchanan,” Melby worked alongside Emmy-nominated and Tony Award-winning actor René Auberjonois as President Buchanan. Auberjonois is best known for his role on the popular TV show “Benson,” as well as roles on “Star Trek: Deep Space 9,” in the film “The Patriot” and, more recently, a four-episode arc on “Madam Secretary.” The cast of “Buchanan” also includes a combination of national and local Arizona acting talent, including Cathy Shim, M. Emmet Walsh, Terence Bernie Hines, Steve Briscoe and Jennifer Pfalzgraff.
“Flawed characters are the most fun to play and Ruth was no exception,” Melby said. “It was a huge honor to have this character written for me and I am excited for people to be able to see the finished film. It’s funny, has heart, and is incredibly timely.”alumna-stars-in-feature-film
Rural broadband is a hot topic these days with many in rural areas not having access to high speed internet services, but Erich Hennig ’97 and his wife, Erica, have been working to change that. Together they started Zumacom, high speed wireless internet for Montezuma County and southwest Colorado.
After graduating from Concordia, Hennig moved to Boulder where he met his wife. They lived in Alaska, Northern California, Phoenix and Durango before moving to Dolores, Colo., located in Montezuma County. They discovered how poor the internet service was there and decided instead of just complaining about it, they’d do something to change it.
Hennig had 20 years of experience working in the IT field and he built their first radio tower in their backyard. They sold the extra bandwidth to their neighbors and Zumacom was born. Sites are connected to fiber or via licensed microwave backhaul and the facilities transmit signals picked up by a radio mounted on the outside of the client’s house.
“Zumacom was created to help bridge the ‘digital divide’ or the lack of modern internet service availability that is prevalent in the rural area of southwest Colorado that we call home,” he said.
Zumacom provided wireless internet to its first customer in February 2017. Since then they’ve slowly expanded the coverage area, using existing fiber-optic lines and cellphone towers. The Zumacom network currently provides service to three counties in Colorado and one resident just across the state line in Utah.
“Since its inception, we have seen massive growth and are currently helping families continue to prosper in a rural setting by providing internet service to their homes and farms that allows for telecommuting, home schooling, online college study, online livestock auctions and, of course, Netflix,” he said.
Zumacom has made a strong effort not to “oversell” its network so the Hennigs can maintain an adequate performance level for their current customers. They limit the customer count where necessary to maintain a good service level for all clients and, in some cases, have had to turn away business.
“This completely slays the business lobe of my brain, but it is a key differentiator between Zumacom and everyone else,” Hennig said. “We seek to be the provider of choice in our service area, and thus far we seem to have been successful in that effort based on feedback from our customers.”
The Hennigs work out of their home west of Dolores, where Erica runs the business and marketing side and Erich is in the field. They plan to expand Zumacom’s wireless infrastructure and the network to support as many customers as they can while they grow.
Image: The green shows Zumacom’s initial coverage area and the blue denotes where the company has expanded.bridging-the-digital-divide
As family and friends entered Memorial Auditorium for the graduation ceremony, spirits were high. The weather delivered a near-perfect day with sunshine and moderate temperatures. Those who had attended baccalaureate that morning may have been pondering the Rev. Elly McHan’s sermon on transitions and how their graduate would soon be living in liminal space – the time between what was and what is to come.
But there was still one event left for these graduates, and The Concordia Band didn’t want anyone to forget this was a festive day. Dr. Peter Haberman nearly brought the audience to its feet during the prelude as he enthusiastically conducted the band in two vibrant marches. Then they reverently played the traditional “Crown Imperial” for the graduates, faculty and staff to process.
The ceremony began with conferring an honorary degree on guest commencement speaker Colum McCann. An author, artist, educator, and social activist, McCann first came to Concordia to speak at the National Book Awards event on his book, “Let the Great World Spin.” He has since been working with Concordia as it created its collegial chapter of Narrative 4, an exchange program McCann co-founded that brings awareness and empathy to the other through storytelling. McCann’s message to students was the hope they would raise their voices to make “one small crack in the wall” that is keeping people apart.
“If we want to be listened to, we have to be listeners as well,” McCann said.
He commended Concordia for its works toward greater understanding of differences in story exchanges. “This is a campus that believes we can forge a path through the great grace of storytelling.”
After the degrees were conferred, Concordia graduate Mikaela Herberg ’19 delivered the student response. Herberg, a biology major who is planning to go to med school in the fall, said she has many things she will personally miss about Concordia then went straight to the commonality for her and her fellow graduates.
“We share the strong foundation of a liberal arts education,” she said, noting the power and potential each graduate holds.
Herberg noted how faculty had taught the graduates to question the world around them and think critically. Now as the newest alumni of the college, they will leave with the confidence that this college can still be a home.
“Concordia will always still be here and this place will always be ready to welcome you home,” she said.
Out of six applicants, Concordia had four students receive scholarships. Seniors Toby Kindem, Alexandra Rankin, Hannah Allen and McKayle Carter have received Fulbright awards.
Fulbright coordinator and professor of English Dr. Jonathan Steinwand says nationally about 20% of applicants are funded and Concordia had 66% of applicants funded.
“I’m pleased with the results and I’m proud of these Fulbrighters,” Steinwand says. “Our World Language programs in particular deserve a lot of credit.”
Kindem, a K-12 German education major, was awarded an English Teaching Award to Germany and will be going to Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). He has studied in Germany in the region in which he will be working. He’s excited about having a head start knowing the dialect of the area.
Rankin’s English Teaching Award to Taiwan will take her to either Kaohsiung or Taipei – her city will be selected later this summer.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity,” Rankin says. “I am excited to continue to improve my Chinese and also learn more about Taiwanese culture. I am also looking forward to learning more about the Taiwanese school system by working alongside Taiwanese teachers.”
Allen was awarded a Study/Research Award in Music Therapy and is going to be studying at SRH University in Heidelberg, Germany, pursuing a master’s degree in music therapy. She first went to Germany in 2017 for a year abroad and enjoyed the German culture and lifestyle.
Carter has been awarded an English Teaching Assistant Award to Bavaria, Germany. She spent a year in Germany during her sophomore year.
“I’m excited to have another opportunity to work on my German language skills, as well as to educate students on the importance of cultural awareness and diversity,” she says.
Every year, approximately 10,000 students apply for 2,000 awards worldwide in all fields of study and in over 140 countries. More than 380,000 Fulbrighters from the U.S. and other countries have participated in the program since it was established in 1946.
Photo (from left): Hannah Allen, McKayle Carter, Toby Kindem, Alexandra Rankinrecord-setting-fulbright-year
Andre Schaum ’20 has been awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. Schaum, an ACS chemistry and biology major from Osage, Minn., is one of only 496 students from across the country to receive the award. He was selected from an initial pool of more than 5,000 students from 443 academic institutions. The scholarship is awarded to undergraduate sophomores or juniors who are intending to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.
“It is extremely humbling and rewarding to be selected as a 2019 Goldwater Scholar out of the large group of applicants across the nation,” Schaum says. “However, I could not have completed the four-month application process if it was not for the tremendous support and patience of my fellow applicants, friends and faculty mentors.”
Among those who Schaum says helped him through the process were Concordia’s Goldwater representative Dr. Althea ArchMiller, assistant professor of biology, and 2018 Goldwater Honorable mention Alexandra Ward ’19. Both provided assistance and advice.
“I would also like to thank my recommendation letter writers – Dr. Donald Krogstad, professor of chemistry, and Dr. Graeme Wyllie, assistant professor of chemistry, both of Concordia College, and Dr. Stanley May of the University of South Dakota,” Schaum says. “I am excited to join the community of past and future Goldwater Scholars and to see how this award will influence and propel my life beyond Concordia.”
And faculty members who have worked with Schaum know his abilities will take him far.
"Andre Schaum has a natural love for nature and curiosity about science,” Krogstad says. “He does things the right way and for the right reasons. Andre has the drive, ambition, intelligence, and creativity to make a real impact as a researcher and world leader."
Schaum has already been immersing himself in research. He spent last summer at the University of South Dakota where he studied the luminescence of nanoparticles on patterned metal surfaces as part of a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates.
This summer, Schaum is headed to Prague for an International Research Experience for Students program. He will be studying the recycling of industrial coolants in the European Union.schaum-earns-goldwater-scholarship
Senior McKayle Carter, originally named an alternate for a Fulbright Scholarship, has now been awarded an English Teaching Assistant Award to Bavaria, Germany.
“We now officially have a record year with four Fulbright Award winners as McKayle Carter has now been offered an award,” exclaimed Dr. Jonathan Steinwand, professor of English. “Nationally, around 20% of applicants are funded. This year at Concordia, 66% of our applicants were funded.”
Concordia had six applicants for the 2019-20 Fulbright Awards.
Carter was named an alternate when Toby Kindem, Alexandra Rankin and Hannah Allen recently received their Fulbright awards. At the time, it was noted that while not currently selected as a principal candidate, Carter’s selection as an alternate offered the chance of promotion to finalist.
Shortly thereafter, Carter was indeed promoted to finalist.
“It’s a huge honor to be selected and I am so humbled to have the privilege to be a part of the Fulbright program,” Carter said. “I’ve wanted to apply for a Fulbright since I found out about the program my freshman year. Having spent a year in Germany my sophomore year, I’ve seen how valuable it is to learn about cultures that are different from our own. It was such an eye-opening experience for me that drastically changed my perception of the world.”
While in Germany, Carter is encouraged to engage in the community through volunteering and various types of involvement, and she plans to do so. She also expects to attend meetings and conferences with other Fulbright recipients and possibly government officials.
“I’m excited to have another opportunity to work on my German language skills, as well as to educate students on the importance of cultural awareness and diversity,” she added.
Every year, there are approximately 10,000 applicants for 2,000 awards worldwide in all fields of study and in over 140 countries. More than 380,000 Fulbrighters from the U.S. and other countries have participated in the program since it was established in 1946.
For information about the other three Fulbright award winners, see Fulbright Selects Concordia Students.concordia-adds-fourth-fulbright-award
Dr. Olin Storvick was born in Chicago in July 1925. He received a public school education in Mason City, Iowa, until 1943 when he enrolled at Luther College. However, his education was put to the side when he enlisted in the Army and was deployed from 1943 to 1945. During his time in the Army, Storvick served in the Pacific Theater and Okinawa. He was awarded the Purple Heart after being injured by shrapnel. Upon his return from service, he finished his undergraduate education at Luther. He continued on to get a master’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1950 and a doctorate in 1968. In 1979, he was awarded an honorary doctorate honoris causa from Luther College, and in 2017 he was awarded the Doctor of Human letters honoris causa from Concordia College.
Storvick joined the faculty of Concordia College in 1955 and actively taught until he retired in 1995. He served as the associate dean of the college from 1979 to 1985 and from 1989 to 1990. During his tenure at the college, he taught Ancient History, Greek, the Greek New Testament, Classic Literature and Translation, and many other classical studies courses. Teaching was chief among his many interests and joys. He said “that even though he enjoys an archaeological dig, he is a teacher first and foremost.”[i] He was known among his students as being very supportive and caring. Former students would recall how he would see them in passing and take time out of his day to help them solve problems outside of the classroom. Storvick’s teaching was not limited to the confines of Concordia’s campus. He led many students to Greece and Israel on a variety of trips including archaeological digs and May Seminars. Even after his retirement, he continued to lead May Seminars to expose students to the ancient world. After his retirement, he served as professor emeritus and classicist-in-residence in order to still have a role on campus while being able to focus on writing. He stated “he feels a responsibility to write about all of his archaeological finds. He would like to publish them so the public can know more about his work.”[ii]
Archaeology was Storvicks’s main area of research outside of his duties as a teacher. In 1970, he was invited to participate in a summer dig at Khirbet Shema in Israel. He would go on to lead two groups of students to Khirbet Shema before becoming involved with the archaeological excavation at Caesarea Maritima. In 1973, Concordia joined a consortium of 20 American and Canadian universities and colleges under the direction of Dr. Robert Bull that was conducting a dig at Caesarea Maritima. Storvick would, ultimately, lead 12 trips to Caesarea Maritima that included Concordia students. While on one of these digs in Caesarea Maritima in 1993, Storvick and his group of students came across a grindstone. Upon opening the grindstone, they found 99 gold Roman coins that dated to the fourth-century B.C.E. This find attracted both national and international attention due to the unique nature of the items. He stated that “most hordes have been discovered accidentally…I think that only one other horde like this has been found on a dig in Israel.”[iii] He served on the executive committee and as the chairperson of the publication committee on the project, which ultimately ended in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum.
Storvick passed away on June 16, 2018. However, the influence he had on Concordia and its students will live on. For the college, his influence continues in the endowed chair of classical studies that bears his name and in the toast during the 125th Anniversary celebrations to “the Concordia that is yet to be!” His influence on students’ lives can be seen in the advice he gave while a professor, the care he displayed while teaching, and the passion he had for his field.
Contributed by Allison Bundy, archives associate, Concordia College Archives
[i] Deines, Ben. “Dr. Olin Storvick: A Faculty Profile, Truly a Classic.” The Concordian vol. 90 nu. 17, 10.15.1993.
[ii] Brislin, Jonathan. “Professor Storvick Tells All.” The Concordian vol. 91 nu. 15, 9.23.1994.
[iii] Deines, Ben. “Dr. Olin Storvick: A Faculty Profile, Truly a Classic.” The Concordian vol. 90 nu. 17, 10.15.1993.concordia-great-olin-storvick
Len Jepson’s new book, “Cosmically Curious: Perceptions from a Speck Called Earth,” is a perfect read for Cobbers.
Jepson ’66 says though the subject matter may seem deep – philosophy, theology (even quantum theology), and physics – the book is full of true “corny” stories including some from his days on Concordia’s campus. They are conversation starters, prompting readers to explore topics they may not have contemplated in depth before.
“The foundation of the book is ‘epistemic curiosity,’ an ongoing imaginative intellectual openness that leads to an enriched general knowledge,” Jepson says.
Curiosity tends to increase early in life and decrease as life goes on, but some people retain this curiosity and Jepson is one of those. He embraces curiosity with passion.
A lifelong pastor and philosopher, Jepson has had various leadership roles over the years including parishes, synods, and regional, state and national settings. Personal and professional development and studies have also taken place globally in Helsinki, Hong Kong, Germany, South Africa, and Japan.
Jepson believes that curiosity can be compared to the way an artist looks at the world, preparing to put it on canvas. He encourages the reader to continually question, explore unknowns, and by all means always remain curious.
The book can be ordered online from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble.new-book-sees-value-in-curiosity
Colum McCann, artist, author, educator and social activist, will speak at the commencement ceremony at Concordia College on Sunday, May 5. McCann will also receive an honorary degree during the ceremony.
McCann holds a degree in journalism from the Dublin Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in history and English from the University of Texas at Austin. He teaches in the Master of Fine Arts program at Hunter College in New York City and works with educators and artists around the world through the global organization Narrative 4, which he co-founded and for which he serves as president.
His novels, short stories, screenplays, and song lyrics have been published in more than 40 languages and have received highest honors internationally. His sustained association with Concordia College began in 2009 when his book, “Let the Great World Spin,” won the National Book Award for fiction and he subsequently headlined the National Book Awards at Concordia. He returned to campus for the 2011 Faith, Reason and World Affairs Symposium, “The Role of the Artist in Society.”
Concordia College will present approximately 437 Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees, seven Master of Education in world language degrees, and eight Master of Science in nutrition degrees during commencement.
Commencement is a ticketed event to ensure families of graduates are able to attend. There is overflow seating available without a ticket in Birkeland Alumni Lounge.
Schaum, an ACS chemistry and biology double major, studied the luminescence of nanoparticles on patterned metal surfaces as part of a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates. The research was done through the Center for Security Printing and Anti-Counterfeiting Technology at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. Schaum looked at how luminescent inks, when placed on patterned metal produce more light when excited with another light than those same inks on a non-patterned surface.
“What we were finding is the surface enhances the luminescent properties so they can be more viable in commercial use,” Schaum says.
Schaum recently presented the research at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Florida. Schaum worked on this research with a team in Dr. P. Stanley May’s lab. The goal of the project was to find a way to amplify the luminescent ink so when used for security purposes such as for computer components or military objects they could be detected without shining as much light on them. Currently, the level of light needed with these particular particles is too intense to replicate inexpensively for business purposes. Schaum says the process was good to gain an understanding of how sporadic research can be.
“It was a really good mock graduate school experience,” Schaum says. “The first five weeks were hard. Nothing was working. And then it clicked.”
While the research was fruitful, Schaum says it also served another goal he had in mind.
“I wanted the opportunity to present on a national scale,” Schaum says.
Schaum did just that when he joined hundreds of chemistry professionals at the ACS National Meeting. In addition to his own presentation, he had the chance to learn from other experts in the chemistry field. Schaum is excited about his next summer research opportunity that will take him to Prague for an International Research Experience for Students program. There he’ll be studying the recycling of industrial coolants in the European Union.
“We plan to develop a procedure for the determination of silicate in coolants and the quality control for the recycling process,” he says.research-for-brighter-security
Seniors Toby Kindem, Alexandra Rankin and Hannah Allen have received Fulbright awards, and McKayle Carter was named an alternate.
Kindem was awarded an English Teaching Award to Germany and will be going to Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). He chose Germany because he’s graduating with a K-12 license in German. He was studying in Germany at the time of the application process.
Kindem applied to Fulbright for another opportunity to spend more time in Germany to enhance his teaching abilities and knowledge about Germany, the German language, and the German culture. He had already learned the dialect spoken in that region and knew it would help him.
“I will be placed in the same state that I was in during my semester abroad and chose it because of the connections that I had already made in that state,” Kindem said. “The road ahead is intimidating, but it will be a great experience and leave a lifelong lasting impression.”
It’ll be sometime this summer before Rankin finds out exactly where she’s going, but her English Teaching Award to Taiwan will take her to either Kaohsiung or Taipei. She chose Kaohsiung, a coastal city in southern Taiwan, as her first choice but said she will be happy anywhere.
“Taiwan is a relatively small island with high speed trains, so travel is convenient,” Rankin said. “I am so grateful for this opportunity. I am excited to continue to improve my Chinese and also learn more about Taiwanese culture. I am also looking forward to learning more about the Taiwanese school system by working alongside Taiwanese teachers.”
This will not be Rankin’s first time abroad. She’s been to Ecuador on a mission trip, Tanzania to teach English as part of a partnership between Concordia Language Villages and the Singita Grumeti Fund, and to China on a class trip in high school and a semester abroad last fall.
Allen was awarded a study/research grant in music therapy and will study at SRH University in Heidelberg, Germany, pursuing a master’s degree in music therapy. She first went to Germany in 2017 for a year abroad and loved the German culture and lifestyle.
“I applied for the Fulbright because during my year in Mainz, Germany, I found an intense passion and specific purpose to help others who suffer from mental illness using music as an alternate form of therapy,” Allen said. “When I discovered there is still a lack of research in the treatment of anxiety disorders – specifically obsessive-compulsive disorder – using music, I realized that I wanted to pursue further research in this area.”
Allen hopes to get involved in the Heidelberg community and possibly find a part-time job to help pay for extra expenses.
“I am graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in voice performance and am currently looking to join an opera chorus in this region of Germany and teach voice lessons to youth in the area,” she added.
Allen plans to stay beyond her year funded by the Fulbright scholarship and continue her second year of the master’s program to earn her degree from SRH.
Carter is an alternate for an English Teaching Award to Germany. While not currently selected as a principal candidate, her selection as an alternate offers the chance of promotion to finalist.
Concordia had six applicants for the 2019-20 Fulbright Awards. Every year, there are approximately 10,000 applicants for 2,000 awards worldwide in all fields of study and in over 140 countries. More than 380,000 Fulbrighters from the U.S. and other countries have participated in the program since it was established in 1946.
“This year, we beat the odds with three awards and one alternate from our six applicants. This is the third time (along with 2011 and 2017), according to my records, that we have had three award winners. If McKayle is called upon as a replacement, it will be a record year for us,” said Dr. Jonathan Steinwand, professor of English. “Elite schools often have several award winners but, for a school of our size and stature, I am pleased with the result and proud of these Fulbrighters! Our world language programs, in particular, deserve a lot of credit.”
Photo (from left): Hannah Allen, Toby Kindem, Alexandra Rankinfulbright-selects-concordia-students
A dinner was held April 4 to celebrate the naming of Dr. Dan Biebighauser as holder of The Sigurd and Pauline Prestegaard Mundhjeld Endowed Chair of Mathematics. Biebighauser is a 2002 graduate of Concordia and joined the faculty in 2006.
All of the past holders of the Mundhjeld Endowed Chair were present. Past holders include (from l-r) Dr. Bill Tomhave, Dr. James L. Forde, Biebighauser, Dr. Alexander Sze and Dr. Gerald A. Heuer ’51.
Biebighauser blazed through graduate school at Vanderbilt in four years while winning a teaching award, and returned to become an admired professor on Concordia’s campus.
He is well-known for incorporating his love of the number 51 into all of his classes, an element of playful pedagogy that students remember long after the end of the course. Biebighauser is the faculty advisor for Concordia's thriving Habitat for Humanity chapter, arranging both domestic and international trips during Fall Interim and Spring Break. He has been on a trip every year since 2009, except for his sabbatical year of 2012.
Biebighauser is best known for his engaging teaching style for all mathematics levels. He teaches widely in mathematics, always willing to take on new course preparation. In his research area, graph theory, he has published (2018) in the leading journal in his area, Journal of Graph Theory. Through the years, Biebighauser has also supervised several highly successful student projects, often during busy semesters rather than over the more sedate summer term. These projects with students led to memorable student presentations at regional mathematics conferences, on campus, and to distinctive posters.
About the Endowed Chair
Sigurd Mundhjeld was born Jan. 19, 1899, in Norway. At age 15, he immigrated to North Dakota and graduated from Concordia College in 1925. He was a professor at Concordia from 1938-69 and was the first faculty member to hold the Alma and Reuel Wije Distinguished Professorship.
Pauline Prestegaard Mundhjeld graduated from Midland College where she was the first female president of the student body. She taught English at Concordia in the 1940s and was a community leader and a source of great hospitality.
The Sigurd and Pauline Prestegaard Mundhjeld Endowed Chair of Mathematics was established in 1987. The holder of the Mundhjeld chair is to be a person who has provided exemplary service in teaching and scholarship in the field of mathematics and who is known and respected in the field.
(Photo credit: Mary Zink)biebighauser-named-endowed-chair-in-mathematics
More than 300 students gave poster or concurrent sessions throughout the daylong event April 10, with some students participating in multiple presentations. New at this year’s COSS was an art display with printmaking pieces and two sessions presented in Spanish.
“Our goal is to keep building on the diversity of research,” says Krys Strand, director of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity and coordinator of the Celebration of Student Scholarship.
From analyzing Alfred Hitchcock’s works to how field burns effect milkweed density, students covered topics across the curriculum. Tate Hovland ’20 researched the marketing of marginalized groups. He says this work gave him an opportunity to analyze societal situations of today and make them understandable to a wide audience.
“Research empowered me to better understand communication phenomena and further develop understandings of communication through personal and relatable examples,” Hovland says.
In addition to the presentations of research and scholarship, three awards were given. Samantha Engrav ’21 was selected as this year’s President Pamela M. Jolicoeur Endowed Memorial Scholarship recipient. The award was presented to Engrav by Jolicoeur’s spouse, Mike Doyle, and her daughter, Jessica Rich.
Alyssa Dalen ’20, received the library’s Exemplary Research Award for her research, “Violence Spreads: The Role of Behavior Learning in Transmission of Violent Acts,” mentored by Dr. Michelle Lelwica. Dr. Susan Lee, associate professor of art, received the mentor of the year award.
Photos: Justin Monroeresearch-reigns-at-coss
Concordia sent 12 members to the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) at the University of Alabama, where 60 colleges and universities from across the United States competed for top honors. Concordia was one of only a few smaller colleges that placed in the top 15, which is dominated by larger research institutions.
“Just qualifying for the national tournament already puts an individual competitor in a top percent of the nation because of how rigorous the process is,” said Zach Oehm, assistant director of speech.
In order to compete in this highly competitive national collegiate tournament, a competitor needs to show consistent success during the regular speech season, which runs throughout the academic year. The qualifying standards are challenging, making the AFA-NIET the premier national collegiate speech tournament.
Concordia has a young team with three juniors, six sophomores and three first-year students. The students took 41 entries to the AFA-NIET.
There are 11 competition categories: Impromptu Speaking, Informative Speaking, Prose Interpretation, Dramatic Duo, Extemporaneous Speaking, Persuasive Speaking, Program Oral Interpretation, After Dinner Speaking, Communication Analysis, Drama Interpretation, and Poetry Interpretation.
Leah Roberts ’21 placed third in Prose Interpretation out of a field of 124 competitors. Roberts broke to quarterfinals in Drama Interpretation, placing her in the top 26 competitors in that category.
“Taking my place on the national stage with the other prose finalists felt so right. I had visualized it for so long and had been coached to believe I could get there, but nothing could have prepared me for the complete joy. It was humbling, it was something I still can’t quite wrap my head around,” Roberts said. “Our team and coaches worked hard and diligently from day one to earn our spot in the top 20.”
Abigayle Reese ’20 and Dominic Meyers ’21 broke to quarterfinals, putting them in the top 26 competitors out of a field of 110.
“Our team has worked hard over the past two years with our new and amazing coaching staff,” Reese said.
Dr. Najla Amundson, assistant professor of communication studies, is in her second year as director of speech and Oehm is in his second year as the assistant director.
Amundson believes the rigorous work students do in competitive speech is the embodiment of a liberal arts education.
“Competitors are tasked with gathering information from a wide variety of sources, carefully analyzing what information is most relevant to their topic, creating something new with the research they’ve gathered, and presenting it to the public and academics for critique and revision,” she said. “Our students do this over and over again in a process that starts in August and ends in April each year.”
“Placing 12th in the nation and advancing to out rounds made all that hard work so affirming,” Reese said.concordia-speech-team-places-12th-in-national-tournament