Recent News from Campuses
The faces of some of those people are displayed on the Anderson Commons wall in Knutson Campus Center. Honey harvesters, bread bakers and potato growers are a few of the images that are the faces of our food.
The project, which is a collaboration among a photography class, the Taste Not Waste program and Dining Services, gives people a new connection to their food.
English professor Dr. Joan Kopperud is a co-coordinator for the Taste Not Waste program, which strives to reduce food waste in Anderson Commons by 50 percent by the year 2020. The goal is to get diners to take only the food they will eat. The pledge for waste reduction has been in place for a year and the college has reduced waste in Anderson Commons by 15 percent. Kopperud wondered if showing diners the people who grow and create their food would make them think more about the food that they take.
“Many people have become less connected to their food source – that is, those who grow, process, prepare and serve their food,” Kopperud said.
As the director of Integrative Learning, Kopperud is always looking for intersections between programs and people. She asked assistant professor of photography Chris Mortenson if his class would be interested in taking photographs of growers. Mortenson saw it as a great collaboration and a way to get his students’ work some extra exposure.
“You can’t get much more high traffic than this,” Mortenson said as he worked with students to place the images on the wall.
The beauty of the environmental portraits and the still life of the products are also in the paper on which they are printed.
“It’s essentially a giant Post-it note,” Mortenson said as he assisted students measuring placement and sticking their work to the wall.
Students said working with the food producers was also enjoyable because they shared their work so freely.
“We wanted students to see the people who are making their food,” said photography student Bailey Tillman ’18. “Dining Services makes an effort to use local products and there are real humans behind it.”
A part of sending out thoughtful and informed students is making responsible food choices a part of daily life, Kopperud said.
“We hope patrons will see the images and think about their own food choices and habits,” Kopperud said. “The beautiful photographs remind us that food is about people and practices.”
Santorum was invited by the local student chapter of Young Americans for Freedom and will be speaking in the Centrum, Knutson Campus Center.
Santorum was a Republican presidential candidate in both 2012 and 2016. He served as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2007. He is now a senior political commentator with CNN.
While the event is free, a ticket is required.
All tickets are general admission.
After completing the online registration form, please print out your confirmation page. Your confirmation page will serve as admission to the event. Please bring this confirmation page, along with your official Concordia ID for students, faculty and staff, or government-issued ID for community members, for entry. No tickets will be mailed. Only one ticket per person.
Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. for the lecture on Tuesday, April 10.santorum-to-speak-april-10
The program will air from 8-10 p.m. Thursday, March 29, on KCCM-FM 91.1 (Moorhead-Fargo) and on KCMF-FM 897 (Fergus Falls, Minn.). MPR will also stream the broadcast at the same time as it plays on the radio and will archive it for on-demand listening. Visit Classical MPR for the program and details.
Clausen, conductor of The Concordia Choir, was commissioned to write the piece to observe the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The oratorio-length composition is an emotional retelling of Jesus Christ’s last week of life and premiered April 8, 2017, at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. The composition was made possible by a generous gift from John and Veronna Capone.
Classical MPR’s Alison Young will host the two-hour broadcast and MPR plans to post the concert program online so listeners can follow along.
“I am thrilled to be hosting this stunning world premiere by a Minnesota legend, René Clausen,” Young said. “The Passion and its cast of characters grappling with their myriad – and often contradictory – emotions feel relevant to us today. Their feelings and subsequent actions comprise the emotional and moral ambiguities of the human condition.”
The composition, performed by the 400 musicians of the Concordia voice faculty, choirs and orchestra, brings audience members closer to powerful scenes from Christ’s procession into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, the trial before Pilate and the crucifixion. In addition to telling the story of the Passion, music and text reveal moments when major figures struggle with the motivation and implication of their actions. The Passion of Christ is at the heart of the Reformation and Martin Luther’s theology, which critiqued late medieval religion by holding up the theology of the cross.
Abby Haraldson's two-out strikeout in the second inning of the Cobbers' game against Bethany Lutheran pushed her ahead of Gunderson as the school's all-time leader in strikeouts.
Haraldson finished the game with eight K's and helped Concordia beat the Vikings 11-1 in the first of two games at the West St. Paul Dome. The Cobbers lost 7-2 to Bemidji State in the second game of the day.
Haraldson fanned a pair of batters in the first inning against Bethany Lutheran to tie Gunderson's record of 371 set from 1999-02. Haraldson then got the fourth batter in the second inning to swing at a high fastball and became the program's all-time strikeout leader.
Haraldson started the game by retiring seven of the first eight batters she faced and then finished the contest by getting six of the final seven hitters out as she won her third game of the season.
The Cobber offense did all of their damage in the first three innings of play. Concordia sent 14 hitters to the plate and scored nine runs in the first inning and then tacked on two more runs in the third inning to bolt to an 11-0 lead.
Bethany Lutheran would plate their only run of the game in the bottom of the third inning on a two-out single that found its way through the left side of the Cobber defense.
Kayla Nack, who was celebrating her birthday on Wednesday, got the CC offense rolling when she tripled to right center field to plate the opening run of the day. Nack went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs as she helped Concordia outhit the Vikings 12-3.
Elizabeth Asp, Madi Veith and Maycen Kirchner all had two-hit games for CC. Sydney Roberts matched the three RBI game of Nack as she went 1-for-3 and drove in three runs.
The Cobbers ran into a solid hitting Bemidji State team in the second game. Concordia freshman pitcher Megan Gavin did a good job of moving the ball in and out of the zone and had an above average change-up, but the Beavers were able to put together multiple-run innings in the first and fifth innings to pull away from CC.
Concordia finished with five hits in the game. Freshman Riley Irmen went 2-for-3 to lead the Cobber offense. Her single through the right side of the infield scored the Cobbers' second run in the fifth inning.
Lexi Olek, Taylor Erholtz and Roberts had the other three hits for Concordia. Erholtz had the other RBI when she doubled to right center field.
Gavin finished the game with five strikeouts and allowed five earned runs.
WHAT'S NEXT: Concordia will stay in the Twin Cities and finish their two-day, four-game Dome extravaganza when they play Finlandia (Mich.) at 10 a.m. and Bemidji State at noon. Both games will be at the West St. Paul Dome.
The program is designed to support and assist professional Minnesota artists at various stages in their careers by encouraging artistic development, nurturing artistic creativity, and recognizing the contributions of individual artists to the creative environment of the state.
Reusch applied for the funds to cover costs of childcare to free up writing time. He and his spouse, Heather Slomski, have a child in preschool and a baby on the way.
“Although this may not seem a very sexy thing to do with this money, the ability to immerse oneself in one’s fictional reality is essential for a writer,” Reusch said. “Because of the high cost of raising children, both in terms of time and money, many writers feel as if there is an either/or choice between art and family. That’s not a choice I’ve wanted to make.”
In addition to his teaching duties in Concordia’s English department, Reusch is currently revising a novel titled “Circumnavigation,” a family drama that takes place in the late 1980s. The story focuses on an adult daughter sailing solo around the world, in part on a quest for adventure, in part to avoid the difficult reality of her brother Peter’s slow death from AIDS. Seizing the opportunity of a captive audience, Peter mails a series of letters to her ports of call and through them tells her a story he believes she needs to hear.
Reusch also just finished the editing process for his short story collection, “The Mercurial Science of the Human Heart,” which will be released with New Rivers Press in October.
Reusch’s upcoming summer project is made possible by Concordia’s Humanities and Social Science Summer Research grant. He’ll be doing research for a historical novel along with two students – Karissa Chouinard ’19 and Maria Tommerdahl ’19 – and Dr. Joy Lintelman from the history department. The book will be about the Nova Scotian fishing schooner and racing ship the Bluenose and its races in the Fisherman’s Trophy contest.
“I am deeply grateful to the Minnesota State Arts Board for recognizing the merit in my work while also understanding the value I place on family,” Reusch said. “And I am tremendously thankful to live in a state that shares both of these values."
Braa was born in 1909 in Buffalo, N.D., and grew up on a farm. As a child, she was often sick and missed so much school that she had to repeat the first grade and never imagined she would live to be 108 years old.
To put it into perspective, 108 years ago, the U.S. issued the first Lincoln penny and William Taft was president. In 1932, the country was in the midst of the Great Depression and Amelia Earhart became the first woman to make a solo air crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
After graduating from high school, Braa enrolled at Concordia where she studied English and music, and was a member of the Concert Choir (now The Concordia Choir). After graduation, she enrolled in Valley City College, while working in a telephone exchange in Buffalo, to obtain a degree in elementary education.
In 1935, she was hired for a teaching position in Buchanan, N.D., where she taught first-grade through third-grade music and high school chorus. Her total salary was $564 for the school year. While she was there, she met the principal of the school, Hildor Braa, whom she married in 1941.
During the war years, married women weren’t allowed to hold jobs, so she stayed home to raise their family of three boys but returned to teaching after the war and retired in 1972.
The family moved several times in North Dakota until settling in California in 1959. Braa passed away in a senior living facility in Fresno, where she spent her remaining years close to family.
Braa’s husband passed away in 1997. She is survived by her three sons and their wives, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. A Celebration of Life Memorial Service was held March 10.
“She was a great person that had an infectious laugh,” said her grandson, Erik Braa. “That’s what I will always remember. She was asked, ‘what’s the secret?’ And she replied, ‘Just laugh a lot.’”just-laugh-a-lot
The Peace Scholars program, sponsored by Augsburg, Augustana, Luther, Pacific Lutheran, St. Olaf and Concordia, is designed to deepen students’ understanding of the central issues and theories regarding conflict, war and peace.
Each summer, the program’s founding colleges and some academic partner institutions send Peace Scholars to study for seven weeks in Norway at the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue in Lillehammer and at the University of Oslo International Summer School.
Concordia’s Peace Scholars are underwritten by the Smaby Family Foundation.
“I am very grateful to have been awarded this opportunity to be a Peace Scholar,” Armstrong said. “To learn and study about peace, especially within the contexts of Norway, will be an incredible experience and one I am excited for. It is my hope that this program will shed more light on what peace looks like and how we both discuss and work toward it, nuancing and deepening my understanding of peace and the forms it can take.”
Armstrong, a major in environmental studies and English writing, seeks to extend her many involvements in sustainability and to increase her expertise in writing for social change. She believes in the power of text to engender peace in our world.
“I am excited to learn all of this with other Peace Scholars and to have a group of peers that are all interested and committed to peace and peace studies,” she said.
Beck said she first learned about the Peace Scholars Program during her freshman year at Concordia and immediately knew she would want to pursue the experience.
A major in global studies, Beck hopes to advance her interests and skills in the development of narrative imagination through story exchange to create a more empathetic world. She believes in the power of dialogue to build peace in our time.
“In addition to the formal education offered at the Nansen Center and Oslo International, the program provides a platform for meeting and collaborating with passionate students from across the globe,” Beck said. “That is incredible and I am so excited to be part of this opportunity.”
Armstrong and Beck will be introduced at the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Sept. 14-15, at Augsburg University in Minneapolis.
The win is the third straight, and second consecutive in conference play, for the Cobbers who are now 8-6 in all matches and 3-3 in league play. Concordia is currently in fifth place in the race for the Top 5 spots in the MIAC standings that make the postseason.
Concordia seized control of the match in doubles play by winning all three bouts to take a 3-0 lead into singles play.
The Cobbers then used their experience to win a trio of singles matches in the super-set tie-breaker. Senior Isaac Toivonen won his eighth match of the year by winning 10-2 in the tie-breaker. Toivonen won 6-3 in the opening set but then lost 7-5 in the second to set up the super-set.
Fellow senior Matthew Engum and sophomore David Youngs both dropped the first set of their singles match but then rallied to win in the tie-breaker. Engum lost 7-5 in the opener at No. 5 singles but then claimed a 6-2 victory in the second set and carried that success into the super-set and won 10-3.
Youngs fell 6-4 in the first set at No. 3 singles but then got one more break in the second set and won in extra games 7-5. He then rolled to a 10-5 win in the tie-breaker.
Erik Porter, Jared Saue and David Schneck all won in straight sets in their singles bouts. Porter cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 2 singles. Porter is 6-8 on the year and has won his last three matches.
Saue had to go to a tie-breaker in the first set and ended up winning 7-6 (4), 6-3 at No. 4 singles. He is now tied with Toivonen for the team lead in singles wins with eight. He has won three straight singles bouts and four of his last five.
Schneck finished off the match with a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 6 singles. He now has five singles victories in 2018 and has won two straight.
WHAT'S NEXT: Concordia will be tested in its next match as they try and run their win streak to four matches. The Cobbers will host Macalester at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 25, at Courts Plus in Fargo. The Scots are currently in third place in the MIAC standings and are 2-0 in conference play.
Concordia Moorhead 9, St. Mary's University 0
March 18 at Fargo, N.D. (Courts Plus)
1. Isaac Toivonen (CC) def. Brenden Amiotte (SMU) 6-3, 5-7, 10-2
2. Erik Porter (CC) def. Brett Giesen (SMU) 6-2, 6-3
3. David Youngs (CC) def. Bobby Tiedeman (SMU) 4-6, 7-5, 10-5
4. Jared Saue (CC) def. Robbie Sobczak (SMU) 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
5. Matthew Engum (CC) def. Alec Rudh (SMU) 5-7, 6-2, 10-3
6. David Schneck (CC) def. Alex Zuzek (SMU) 6-2, 6-2
1. Isaac Toivonen/David Youngs (CC) def. Brenden Amiotte/Bobby Tiedeman (SMU) 8-5
2. Erik Porter/David Schneck (CC) def. Robbie Sobczak/Alex Holm (SMU) 8-6
3. Matthew Engum/Ben Swanson (CC) def. Brett Giesen/Alex Zuzek (SMU) 8-4
“We are very happy to recognize Jessica’s legal talents and business acumen through this name change,” Wright said. “She has been an outstanding leader for this firm and an outstanding fighter for her clients. Renaming the firm to include her is well-deserved.”
Barger has experience handling both trial and appellate cases and a variety of commercial disputes including insurance defense and coverage matters, product liability, premises liability and personal injury defense. She is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
“It is a high honor to see my name with those of our co-founders, Tom and Howard, who set the standard for our work here, demanding our best for our clients,” Barger said. “From the start, I knew that working with the remarkable team of lawyers at this firm was where I wanted to be.”
A member of the firm since 2007, Barger previously worked as briefing attorney and staffing attorney for Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals. She also worked with two other highly respected law firms. A graduate of South Texas College of Law Houston, Barger is recognized in the 2018 edition of “The Best Lawyers in America” for her appellate work.
Wright Close & Barger is listed in the 2018 Best Law Firms guide by U.S. News & World Report and “The Best Lawyers in America.”
Wright Close & Barger is an appellate and civil litigation law firm in Houston that handles complex trial and appeals work for clients across Texas. Cases include catastrophic personal injury, intellectual property, oil and gas, commercial disputes, arbitration and mediation, trade secrets, and trust and estate litigation, among others. It also assists with pretrial motions, special evidence problems and challenges to expert witnesses.houston-firm-renamed-after-cobber-named-partner
From the beginning of their time on campus and throughout their four years of college, many Cobbers participate in different forms of community service. The drive that many students feel to serve stems from the message that Concordia itself puts forth. The message to serve can be seen in the college’s mission statement, “to influence the affairs of the world by sending into society thoughtful and informed young men and women,” and in the BREW initiative which tells students to be responsibly engaged in the world. Students’ dedication to these messages can be seen in their work to organize many programs and charitable events.
In the 1970s, a student organization called Sources for Service (S.O.S) was formed. Its mission statement in the 1990s was “to facilitate service-learning experiences for Concordia students in the broader community that will lead to personal growth, learning, and a lifelong commitment to service.” In the 1990s, S.O.S. grew to include 16 programs that students could volunteer in. These programs included things such as English as a Second Language tutoring at elementary schools for children of newly emigrated families, caregiving programs such as Adopt-a-Grandparent, and emergency assistance programs at the YWCA for survivors of domestic abuse.
During its time as S.O.S., the program was nominated for numerous awards. One of the awards was the Environmental Award from the River Keepers group, a river advocacy group based in Fargo, for the work that S.O.S did in helping to clean the Red River. Another award that the group was nominated for was the Governor’s Youth Service Recognition Award in 1991 for the many different service programs they were involved with in the community. The YWCA also formally recognized the S.O.S. group as friends of the organization for the thousands of hours they had given to helping those in need. Sources for Service transformed into the Campus Service Commission in 2003. The change in the name did not lead to a change in purpose for the group. It still strove to facilitate service-learning experiences for students and to aid the wider community by facilitating student volunteerism.
While Sources for Service was involved in many different programs, there were other opportunities for students to volunteer and donate their time. One of the most popular is Hands for Change. Hands for Change is a program that all first-year and new transfer students participate in during Fall Orientation. Students volunteer in a wide variety of programs across the Fargo-Moorhead community. Some programs include helping to clean up historical sites, helping the local police departments spread the word on new ordinances, and even helping local businesses, such as the Rourke Art Museum, staff large events that take place during the event. Hands for Change allows students to experience a wide variety of volunteer opportunities and helps students understand Concordia’s mission to get students involved in the community.
Another popular program for students to volunteer with is Concordia’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Begun in the 1990-91 academic year, the group quickly began planning service trips. In its first year, the group was involved in three major projects in two different states that resulted in eight new Habitat houses and supported the Lake Agassiz’ building. More than 41 students were involved in the projects just that first year. Concordia’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity quickly grew to become of one of the largest college chapters. In 1997, less than 10 years after the chapter was first organized, more than 130 students were participating in Habitat builds during spring break. In 1997, those 130 students were working at six building sites in five different states. In the early 2000s, the Habitat for Humanity program at Concordia expanded to include international trips to countries such as Nicaragua to help build houses for communities in need. The program is active on campus to this day and now includes many different on-campus and off-campus opportunities to volunteer, including a wide variety of nationwide and international spring break trips.
Contributed by Allison Cassell, archives associate, Concordia College Archivesstudent-volunteerism
The Cobbers got a four-hit shutout performance from Austin Ver Steeg in the opener against Waynesburg (Pa.) and then Ty Syverson backed that up with a six-hit outing in the second games as the Cobbers won 4-0 and 6-3 to complete their annual spring break trip.
Concordia finishes their Florida trip by winning their last three games and four of their last five. CC is now 5-6 on the year. Waynesburg, who had won their first four games in Florida, falls to 4-2 for the year.
Ver Steeg continued his dominance on the mound in Florida by striking out seven in seven innings in the first game of the day. He only gave up four hits and didn't allow a runner to reach second base until he gave up a two-out double in the seventh inning but then stranded that runner on second with an infield pop out on the very next batter.
The Cobbers scored single runs in the third and fifth innings and then added a pair in the top of the seventh to finish off the 4-0 score line.
Concordia had six hits in the game and two came off the bat of right fielder Brett Erickson, who went 2-for-2 and drove in two runs – including the game-winning run in the third inning.
Nate Sillerud also went 2-for-2 in the game and had a single RBI. Sillerud doubled to left field in the seventh inning which scored Ver Steeg, who had led off the inning with a triple.
Turner Storm had the other base knock for Concordia in the opener.
Syverson continued the quality pitching for the Cobbers in Game 2. He gave up a pair of runs in the second inning after only facing three batters in the first but then settled into a groove and retired seven straight Yellow Jacket batters from the third to the fifth frames.
Syverson gave up a single run in the sixth inning but then worked out of a jam in the seventh inning when he induced a double play ground ball to end the game.
Syverson struck out a pair of batters in the game and only walked one hitter.
Concordia trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom fourth inning but then plated two runs in the fourth and fifth innings and added an insurance run in the sixth.
The Cobbers outhit Waynesburg 9-6 in the second game. Nate Hoeft led the CC offense from the leadoff spot as he went 3-for-4 and drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth.
Ver Steeg was the only other Cobber player with more than one hit in the game. He went 2-for-3 and drove in a run with a double in the fifth.
VER STYMIED: Austin Ver Steeg pitched in two games in Florida, went 2-0 and finished with a 0.69 ERA. He pitched a team-best 13.0 innings and only allowed six hits while striking out 15. His WHIP (walks + hits /innings pitched) was a measly 0.76 (last year's MLB National League Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer had a 0.90 WHIP) and he only allowed one extra-base hit in his two outings.
LEINTZ LINES: Senior left fielder Nate Leintz finished the 11-game Florida fling by leading the team in batting average, hits, slugging percentage and was second in on-base percentage. Leintz hit .357 in his 42 at bats and had four extra base hits for a .500 slugging percentage. Leintz had a hit in eight of the 11 games.
STEALING SIGNIFICANCE: The Cobbers only stole three bases in the first six games in Florida and went 1-5. In the final five games, Concordia swiped nine bases had at least one steal in all five games and went 4-1.
WHAT'S NEXT: Concordia will fly home and then have a 17-day break before hitting the road to travel to Illinois to play Dominican, Wheaton and Beloit at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., March 23-24.
From top left: Gail (Haugen) Nylin ’83, immediate past president of the Bethlehem Church Council; Jessica Epple ’15, children, youth and family specialist at Bethlehem; Soren Poffenberger ’13, youth ministry specialist at Bethlehem; and Steve Tjeltveit ’80, also a past president of the church council.cobbers-together
“It’s my favorite place to sing,” she says. “I’m very excited to be performing for my family, my friends and my church family.”
She especially enjoys singing “Stars” by Ēriks Ešenvalds. Cogswell, who is double majoring in religion and music, likes that it’s a spiritual piece without being religious.
“It’s completely gorgeous,” she says. “It’s not the hardest piece we sing, but it’s one of the most rewarding for everyone in the choir to find meaning. We use some cool lighting effects and we get to perform with wine glasses, which is pretty unusual.”
Cogswell says being in choir helps her think beyond the campus. She especially enjoys the special rehearsal times when Dr. René Clausen and her fellow students discuss their beliefs.
“We’re able to reflect on what we feel passionate about in life,” she says. “Dr. Clausen listens to what we have to say and he responds to it. He wants to hear what we believe as much as telling us about his own experiences. It’s really exceptional to have someone of his reputation appreciating and validating what we have to say. It’s fun being with people with so many diverse passions, opinions and hobbies beyond music.”
It’s good for her vocational training as well. Cogswell aspires to become an ELCA pastor and she’s enjoying the academic study of religion, which she finds personally meaningful. She says she has found many spiritual leaders on campus.
“It’s been good for me to come to Concordia and explore what ELCA denominations are all about,” she says, “and serving on the Campus Ministry Commission has been influential for me.”
Cogswell had initially planned on being a music educator, so becoming a pastor was not something she expected to do.
“It’s really exciting for me now,” she says. “I’ve enjoyed looking at religion from an academic perspective. Having a degree in divinity is important for me and I appreciate that it takes that level of study for someone to become a moral guide for a congregation.”
The Concordia Choir national tour runs through March 11.meaningful-preparation
During his senior year in high school, he came to Moorhead for a campus visit and heard a concert.
“It was awe-inspiring,” he says. “It gave me a sense of wonder and excitement that I had never experienced. The depth of sound and the level of artistry that was being created were life-changing for me. I knew I had to sing at this caliber.”
Now as a three-year choir veteran, Gaines has developed a deep understanding and love of singing baroque music and especially Bach motets. He admires Bach’s creativity and the intellectual interplay of his music.
“I’ve learned to appreciate the mind that could create such music. His music sings and sings well,” he says. “Once you learn a Bach motet, which isn’t easy, you never forget it.”
A highlight for Gaines was the concert tour in Germany last summer where the choir sang mere feet from Bach’s tomb in Leipzig.
“We were profoundly lucky to sing in Bach’s church. It’s an experience I’ll never forget,” he says.
Gaines says he and his fellow choir members are “energized” to sing a famous Bach motet in the opening set of this concert tour.
“We’ve worked the hardest on this piece of any in the program, and we’re at our best when we sing it,” he says.
Following graduation in May, Gaines will begin a two-year contract teaching music to middle school students in Kuwait.
The vocal music education major says he was searching for a job and hoped he would be able to combine his three favorite things – singing, teaching and travel.
“After being at Concordia, I can’t wait to show young singers what quality music sounds like,” he says. “I’m ready to lead a choir and teach that the reward for hard work is a great musical experience. I want to create that lasting magical impact that good music gives you.”
The award is given to leaders who have been an inspiration in the field of service-learning and through their own example have motivated others to take up lives of service.
Witteman started her own service-learning journey volunteering at Bonanzaville, a pioneer village in West Fargo, before she’d even heard of service-learning. The educator in Witteman could see the treasure trove the museum had and the ways it could bring history alive for elementary students, but it wasn’t being used as well as it could be. She knew with just a bit of “packaging” that teachers would be sold on the idea.
“My social studies class and I went there, selected artifacts that could be connected to the textbooks being used by three area elementary schools, and wrote lesson plans connecting these primary sources to the content,” Witteman says.
Then they added the plans to trunks that included artifacts from the museum that were available for checkout by area educators. Concordia’s director of student leadership and service at the time, Chelle Lyons Hanson ’84, heard about the project and handed Witteman a new term for her work: service-learning.
A constant supporter of service projects for students of all ages, Witteman teaches a service-learning course and is always careful to gauge the community need and the students’ ability to deliver before launching into a project. She might be best known in the Fargo-Moorhead area for birthdays and beans, two ongoing and extremely successful projects for creating a take-home birthday celebration in a bag and the repackaging of beans.
Focusing on hunger issues in the area, Witteman collaborated with Bryan Boll ’96, who grows beans on his farm near Crookston, Minn. Boll donates the beans in bulk to Witteman’s class and the college students, with help from elementary students, package and label the beans for the local food pantry while working to educate the youth about the region’s need for food. The Birthday Bag project is also for food insecure families and is administered through the Emergency Food Pantry.
“Last year, the Emergency Food Pantry had 8,948 food insecure families go through their doors. Families are asked if they have a child celebrating a birthday and, if they do, the family is given a cake, can of frosting and a homemade card that they can give to their child,” Witteman says. “Simply stated, every child deserves a cake.”
In March, Witteman will take her service-learning class on the road with her to the National Service-Learning Conference where she will receive her award and the students will present various service projects and have attendees complete them at the conference.
“It will be exciting to go to the national convention and see everyone with a passion for service-learning,” says Katie Johnston ’20, an elementary education major and one of Witteman’s service-learning students. “Barb makes it easy to do these projects. She’s so organized, passionate and has so many connections.”
And while Witteman brushes off the praise, she does take pride in seeing teachers who came through her class implementing service-learning because she believes it brings such purpose and meaning to lives. She knows that we need to live for each other and help those who are in need.
“To borrow a phrase from St. Teresa of Calcutta,” she says. “‘Do small things with great love.’”
Concordia has been awarded $800,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This four-year grant will be used to support initiatives in the arts and humanities that contribute to the college's strategic objectives for diversity, community engagement, and transformational learning beyond the classroom.
Key projects supported by the grant include the establishment of a Center for Community Engagement that will facilitate the relationships and the administrative arrangements between the college and its community partners in education.
Grant funds will also support faculty development opportunities related to excellence in the forms of teaching and learning required to reach the college's goals for diversity and to support projects in which students work alongside partners in the community.
Funds will also support a diversity review of the arts and humanities curriculum. Finally, the grant will support projects that engage the Fargo-Moorhead community with the arts and humanities events that take place on campus.
"The funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation enables us to move forward more quickly to enhance students' education beyond the classroom and to improve the ways in which we ensure that students encounter at Concordia the complexity and diversity of the world they will graduate into," said Dr. Eric Eliason, dean of the college and vice president for academic affairs.
"A new center for community engagement will offer needed support for both Concordia and its partners in the region to create and benefit from work together," Eliason said. "We look forward to the opportunity to use these stronger relationships to invite more of the community to see, to understand, and to support the important role the arts and humanities play in enriching the lives of individuals and communities."
Despite changing his major from music to global studies, Prichard agrees he’s benefitting from that recommendation.
“Every day, I’m learning something new from the man who has prepared scores of choral conductors in the U.S. and abroad,” Prichard says. “Singing for Dr. Clausen is a special experience. It’s much more than learning music. It’s learning about history and art, how events in the world affect us, about what should be important to us and how we can express ourselves.”
Prichard also appreciates the time he spends observing Clausen’s conducting techniques. He says Clausen has a very emotive, flowing style of conducting that engages an emotional response from each choir member.
“Being able to connect with him on a personal level when we sing completes the circle of the choir experience for me,” he says.
Like others in the choir, Prichard has become a fan of J.S. Bach.
“His compositions are complicated,” he says. “He wrote at a high intellectual level and singing a Bach motet is a challenge but fun.”
Prichard relished singing in Bach’s home church in Germany last summer.
“We were singing where he composed his music,” he says. “I gained a deeper understanding of the roots of his music from being in that magnificent place.”
Participating in the choir’s 2017 tour in Germany and Austria to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and Concordia’s 125th anniversary fit perfectly with Prichard’s global studies major, which concentrates on the theme of worlds in dialogue. His studies include a full year of Chinese language instruction, and Prichard is now focusing on the many aspects of communication between societies and cultures.
“I’m pairing that with an interfaith studies minor because I think religion is also very important in understanding how different cultures and societies work together,” he says. ”My high school choir conductor was right – Concordia has expanded my horizons and how I see the world.”
“I’m so glad we get to sing it,” she says. “It’s so beautiful and it blossoms into this huge sound that expresses everything we can do. It’s very moving and emotional, and I love being able to share it.”
Mischtian is also happy to be performing in the church she grew up in, where she was baptized and where her parents were married – a rare opportunity to sing at home.
“It’s a special time for me and my family,” she says.
Beyond that, this spring tour is also an opportunity to bring new music to places that normally don’t get to hear the choir.
“I know many audiences haven’t heard us yet, but they are aware of the reputation of Dr. Clausenand the choir, so there’s a sense of excitement around our concerts,” she says. “I think people will love hearing our sound and our message.”
The elementary education major first began dreaming of singing at Concordia after hearing the choir while she was in middle school, and she was aware of the Lutheran choral tradition because her dad sang at a Lutheran college that had deep roots in the Christiansen family tree of conductors.
“My family is super musical and music is a big part of our lives, so there was always this thought that Concordia might be the place for me,” she says.
During her junior year of high school, Mischtian and her dad visited several colleges and sat in on a rehearsal of The Concordia Choir. She was immediately impressed that everyone was working as hard as they could to make each piece better.
“I had never seen such commitment before and I thought this is how choir should be,” she says.
About halfway through the rehearsal, she turned to her dad and said, “Here’s where I belong. I need to come to Concordia.”
Mischtian says she now has two families – her own in Texas and her choir family in Moorhead.
“We’re a tight-knit group. We trust each other and rely on each other. Choir at Concordia is one big, caring family,” she says. “It’s been the perfect choice for me.”
The Concordia Choir national tour runs through March 11.choir-is-family
Alton and his students discovered that social media and charities could work together. They also learned that the the New Orleans Saints could be pretty cool – and children’s health in Minnesota is $200,000 richer because of it. But the story is Alton’s and he tells it best.
Guest contributor: Nick Alton ’09
Morning meetings have always been my favorite part of the school day. I rarely know what the subject will be about until the day before. I want that part of the day to be relevant to a real-life learning experience. Many times it is simply something that we need to improve on as a class (empathy, showing respect, or how to handle difficult conversations). Other times, we will look at situations that are happening around us and have a discussion about the particular topic.
A recent morning meeting happened to bring my class to the Super Bowl Experience and an opportunity to meet an NFL punter.
Rewind to a few Thursdays ago – the night before I had read a neat article about the New Orleans Saints punter, Thomas Morstead, in the Star Tribune. The article detailed the punter’s sportsmanship and character during and after the Vikings-Saints playoff game, and also talked about the money that was being raised by Minnesotans for his charity, What You Give Will Grow. So, Thursday morning, I brought it to the attention of my fourth-grade students during our morning meeting.
We read the article, watched a couple videos of Morstead thanking the people of Minnesota for contributing to his charity, and had a little discussion about his charity and where the money goes (pediatric care). All of a sudden, a student raised her hand stating, “We should help raise money for his foundation.” Without me being able to respond, three students scurried to their backpacks and within a minute we had $7 laying on my desk. The following day, we were up to $64.
I have to give my school district credit for being ahead of the curve. A little over a year ago, our district brought in George Couros, an advocate for social media outlets, to talk about the importance of social media and how to positively impact a school district culture as a whole. Our school leaders challenged its teachers to use different media tools to show the community all the fabulous things that are happening in our schools by simply adding the hashtag #DLSchools next to a picture or video.
Transition now to our Friday morning meeting, we have the $64 raised and I bring up the idea of tweeting to Morstead and thanking him for the lesson on sportsmanship that he taught us. We also wanted him to know that we did our part in helping his charity. The class totally bought in.
Before I go on, I believe that everyone should have one post/picture/video go viral in their lifetime. A) If it is a positive/uplifting post, it’s pretty cool to be part of it. B) It is amazing how many texts/phone calls/emails a person can get by posting a 30-second video. C) You will realize that you hope to never post anything that goes viral again!
Our video went viral. We had more than 250,000 views between Twitter and Facebook in the first day.
One thing led to another and Morstead reached out to me. He, along with the Minnesota Vikings organization, chartered my entire class (along with 20+ chaperones) to the Super Bowl Experience. The entire cost of the trip was covered.
To say the trip was awesome would be an understatement. The kids had the time of their lives. After taking full advantage of what the Super Bowl Experience had to offer, we met with Morstead for a little over an hour. What a standup guy! He thanked us, we thanked him – 12 students spoke to him about lessons they had taken away in the previous couple of weeks. Autographs, pictures – a surreal moment.
I have been asked by many how the trip was. It may sound cliché, but the pure joy of 24 fourth-graders for an entire day made this a top-five day in my life (marriage, a couple of kids, maybe a sporting event or two) – but this was up there! From the time we left our elementary school till we returned, it was a day everyone on that charter bus will never forget.
Editor’s note: In total, Vikings fans raised more than $200,000 to What You Give Will Grow, which Morstead donated to the Children’s Minnesota organization. Alton majored in elementary education and played for the Cobber football team from 2005 to 2008.
Nellermoe, Concordia’s biologist-in-residence, just published research about findings from the site in the academic journal Palaios with partners Dr. Paul Ullmann and Dr. Kenneth Lacovara of Rowan University, Glassboro, N.J., and Allen Shaw of Standing Rock Paleontology Department (SRPD), Fort Yates, N.D.
The South Dakota site was originally located by the Rev. Ken Olson, who hunted fossils as a hobby. After discovery of the site in 1993, Nellermoe and Concordia students made annual summer excavations collecting more than 4,000 bones from the area named the Concordia Hadrosaur Site.
“Hundreds of students and volunteers have participated in the excavation of bones over the years,” Nellermoe said. “One summer, 30 people were involved including former student Becky (Gould) Barnes ’04, Carl Bailey ’40, professor emeritus of physics, and Dean Bowman, professor emeritus of art.”
After a six-year gap, annual summer excavations began again at the initiation of the SRPD and in 2012 a collaborative dig took place between Concordia, Drexel University and the SRPD at the renamed Standing Rock Hadrosaur Site (SRHS), which is located on Standing Rock Sioux Reservation land. The 2012 expedition was to give Ullmann and Dr. Kristyn Voegele ’11 the opportunity to explore the bone bed.
The research, titled “Taphonomy of the Standing Rock Hadrosaur Site, Corson County, South Dakota,” presented analyses of this large bone bed of Edmontosaurus annectensor duck-billed dinosaurs. Interpretations were based on the bone bed, the sediment and related factors helping to identify the possible conditions for deposition of this tremendous number of Edmontosaurus bones.
At the site, “bones can be found protruding from the hillside”* about halfway up a bluff where “the Upper Fox Hills and Lower Hell Creek formations are exposed”* in north central South Dakota about 15 miles south of Morristown on the reservation and on private land. Thousands of bones ended up at this location spread out over half a mile. Where the bones were found in the strata, the condition of the bones, the sizes and assortment of bones provided a wealth of information.
Dr. Russ Colson of Minnesota State University Moorhead and his wife, Mary, spent a summer working to describe the sedimentology and Barnes did her master’s thesis identifying the dinosaur species. To complete the circle, they needed to describe the depositional history or taphonomy – how the dinosaurs came to be in that location. That’s when Nellermoe asked Ullmann if he wanted to work with the Concordia collection to describe this deposit.
The study showed the subadult and adult Edmontosaurus died in a mass mortality event and “their bones were buried in a shallow floodplain.”* Evidence from this site and other Edmontosaurus bone beds strongly suggests “gregarious” behavior – that Edmontosaurus may have lived as families. Dinosaurs tend not to be gregarious as most meat eaters, the Triceratops and big plant eaters were mostly individuals. A significant finding supported by this bone bed is that Edmontosaurus traveled in herds.
When asked about what might have caused the mass mortality event, Nellermoe said, “some natural catastrophic event wiped them out like a flash flood or disease.” The location of the bones precludes any thought of something like an asteroid impact.
Fossils were split between Concordia and the paleontology department of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Fort Yates after careful cataloging to determine which bones had been located on the reservation.
“We had this fantastic collection of bones and gave at least 2,000 to Fort Yates,” Nellermoe said.
In 2016, Concordia’s SRHS bone collection was transferred to the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck, N.D., where Barnes watches over the Concordia bones as chief preparer.
Currently, students in the bone lab in Concordia’s Riverside Center are working on an Allosaurus species with Rowan University to describe a fossil found near Shell, Wyo. Each Friday, they Skype with Ullmann and Voegele as they work to determine and describe this fossil in hopes of finding something unique.
“It’s really enjoyable working with students on new projects and to culminate field collections,” Nellermoe said.
He said he looks forward to the paper they write upon completion of the research.
*excerpts from the research paper
Photos courtesy of Dave Olson/The Forum