Gustavus Campus News
by Josie Schieffert ’20
With the holiday season approaching, students and faculty at Gustavus Adolphus College have been tirelessly preparing for the annual celebration of Christ Chapel. Christmas in Christ Chapel 2019: Love Beyond Borders is Thursday, December 5 through Sunday, December 8, and involves over 350 students sharing a Christmas message through music, readings, prayer, and dance.
The theme this year, “Love Beyond Borders,” will follow the incarnation story in the gospel of Matthew, connecting us to God’s abundant and generous love and inspire us to transcend borders that keep us divided from one another and from God’s reign of justice and compassion in our world.
“The incarnation as we see it in the nativity story is an event of God’s spirit taking shape in the human body of Jesus that reveals God’s ability to transcend the boundary between heaven and earth, between spirit and flesh,” Gustavus Chaplain Rev. Siri Erickson said. “Through all of the movements in this story, we learn of a God who cannot be contained by any border and who encourages people to transcend boundaries for the sake of love and the opportunity to live an abundant life.”
For the first time, Christmas in Christ Chapel will include a Thursday evening worship service. The final service will take place Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
Dates and times of the services for Christmas in Christ Chapel are as follows:
- Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, December 6, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 3:30 p.m.
- Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 3:30 p.m.
Tickets are going fast!
A limited number of tickets remain for each service, with more available for Thursday’s service. Tickets are $30 each and can be purchased online at gustavustickets.com or by calling the Gustavus Office of Marketing and Communication at 507-933-7520.
Hat and Mittens Drive
The Gustavus Hill Crew is sponsoring a hats and mittens drive during Christmas in Christ Chapel. Donations will be collected in Christ Chapel during the entire weekend. Please bring in new or gently used hats and mittens to be donated to the Connections Shelter in Mankato, Minn.
Christmas in Christ Chapel will again be livestreamed online to the public on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 7. Heroic Productions, which annually provides audio, video, and lighting solutions for both Christmas in Christ Chapel and the Nobel Conference, will produce the livestream after winning a Gold Hermes Creative Awards for the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Christmas in Christ Chapel broadcasts as well as the Bronze Telly Award in 2018.
If you plan to livestream the service on Saturday evening, you can access the video online at gustavus.edu/CinCC.
Watch Christmas in Christ Chapel on Public Television Stations
Previous Christmas in Christ Chapel services will also be broadcast on public television stations across the country this holiday season. To learn more and see showings in your area, visit the Gustavus Christmas in Christ Chapel broadcast website or check your local listings. The services from 2017 (Ubuntu, Jesu) can also be streamed online at TPT.org.
About Christmas in Christ Chapel
A tradition since 1973, Christmas in Christ Chapel is a time for the Gustavus community to celebrate the holidays with one another through music, spoken word, and prayer. Approximately 350 students, faculty, and staff bring the program to life each year through the use of music and visual art. A new theme is chosen each year in order to educate participants and audiences alike about faith and cultural traditions. Choirs and orchestras lead the five services, with approximately 1,200 people attending each one.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
Gustavus Adolphus College has received a major grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to support the Gustavus Academy for Faith, Science, and Ethics. The grant of $294,730 will fund the summer program for high school students over the next five years.
Since its founding in 2016, the Gustavus Academy for Faith, Science, and Ethics has given high school students a venue to discuss important theological questions relating to faith, science, and service. “I think students are longing to have the opportunity to have these conversations,” said Academy director and Chaplain of the College Rev. Siri Erickson. “High school students can become really good theologians if you empower them with basic theological frameworks, mentors and role models, and the space to ask questions and explore ideas without feeling pressured to arrive at the same answers as their peers or pastors.”
The week-long summer intensive is designed to provide this kind of space for questions and exploration. Students read a range of biblical and theological texts. They are also able to interact with visiting theologians and scientists who lead the Academy’s daily sessions. An important role is played by Gustavus students who serve as mentors and by past Academy participants who return as senior fellows. These college and high school students are trained for their leadership roles in the weeks leading up to the summer intensive. A number of Gustavus students who served as Academy mentors have started or are planning to study in seminary.
Fellows in past summer programs have come from multiple states and Canadian provinces. Most belong to ELCA congregations, with other denominations represented as well. A primary aim of the Academy is to prepare leaders within the church who can cultivate new relationships between science and faith. The curriculum is intended to help student fellows speak more confidently about their values, faith commitments, and ethical concerns.
Based on feedback she has received, Erickson sees the Academy as being successful in these goals. “Pastors and parents have shared with us that the Gustavus Academy has equipped their students with self-confidence, leadership and communication skills, and a greater enthusiasm for their faith and congregational engagement,” she said. One pastor of a small-town congregation reported that two students who attended the Academy set the topics and provided resources for a sermon series on faith and science. “In the same way it’s produced in our young people the thirst for more exploration of these big topics and questions,” the pastor reported to Erickson, “it’s done the same for the rest of the congregation.”
The Academy has also influenced campus ministry at Gustavus. Ten former participants in the Academy, who are now enrolled at the College, work in the chaplains’ office. “They lead worship, theological discussion groups, and help us continue strengthening the Academy,” Erickson said. “Having these Academy students as part of our campus ministries team generates deep and meaningful Christian student communities on campus.”
The new grant from the Lilly Endowment is an extension of an initial grant made in 2015 that helped establish the Gustavus Academy for Faith, Science, and Ethics. Founded in 1937, Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation based in Indianapolis. The endowment supports projects related to community development, education, and religion.
The theme of the 2020 Gustavus Academy for Faith, Science, and Ethics is the ethics of cancer and its treatment, corresponding with the subject of next year’s Nobel Conference. Students can apply for the program at the Gustavus Academy website.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
The Gustavus African Studies Program is hosting Dr. Susan Schalge, professor of anthropology as Minnesota State University, Mankato, on Thursday, November 21. She will be on campus to give a lecture entitled “Mothers and Mothering: Lessons from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania” at 7 p.m. in Confer 127.
Dr. Schalge has performed research in Tanzania and is currently diving into the practice of mothering and motherhood cross-culturally, which will be the focus of her lecture at Gustavus. Her specialties in the field of anthropology include sociocultural anthropology, urban and applied anthropology, gender, mothering, social organization, and the anthropology of higher education.
“‘Mothering’ might be a universal term, however it takes on a specificity of meaning in different cultures,” said professor Paschal Kyoore, Director of the Gustavus African Studies Program. Students attending this event will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of Tanzania as well as learn about how mothering looks in different cultures.
The African Studies Program at Gustavus applies an interdisciplinary approach to the field, taking into account historical, political, social, economic, and cultural experiences. By hosting at least two speakers every year, the program provides opportunities for students to engage with content that is focused on developing an appreciation of African contributions to the world.
“Africa is a very vast continent, not just in terms of its physical size, but in terms of diversity of languages, cultures, and political experiences,” Kyoore said. “Students should seize such opportunities to educate themselves on issues that they have probably never thought about or considered to be important in their academic life. Come with an open mind.”
“Mothers and Mothering: Lessons from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania” will take place on Thursday, November 21 at 7 p.m. in Confer 127. This event is sponsored by the Gustavus African Studies Program and is free and open to the public.
Visit the Gustavus African Studies Program website to learn more about program offerings and opportunities for students.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
For the third time in the five-year history of the contest, a team of Gustavus Adolphus College students won the Deloitte Audit Case Competition. Deloitte is one of the “big four” public accounting firms and is the world’s largest professional services network based on revenue and number of employees.
The team of Gustie accounting students‒made up of sophomores Brandon Holland and Catherine LaCasse and juniors Logan Ries and Max Ullan‒started preparing weeks in advance, studying the case provided to them by Deloitte.
“Because the case we were given was an authentic audit case that Deloitte had worked on in the past, I got an extremely realistic taste of what an audit career could look like,” LaCasse said.
The team competed against students from Concordia College-Moorhead, Bethel University, Luther College, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
“The competition provided something that is almost impossible to experience in the classroom. A lot of the time in the classroom is spent laying down an accounting foundation of sorts. The Deloitte Competition showed me how to use this foundation to dive further into more complex accounting issues,” LaCasse said.
The students were led by faculty advisers and accounting professors Artur Pietka, Lonnie Hosman, and Laura Bowyer.
“For students it is a great opportunity to apply their skills in a real-world environment and build professional relationships outside of campus. Each year, as a result of excellent performance, our students receive job offers and some of them join Deloitte after graduation,” Pietka said.
LaCasse is thankful for the opportunity to compete in Deloitte’s competition.
“We showed that we knew the case inside and out,” LaCasse said. “I personally think we won because we were so well prepared and our personalities made a great team.”
The mission of the Gustavus Department of Economics and Management is to equip students to identify, analyze, and solve complex problems through excellent, liberal arts education and experiential learning, which enables students to become ethical and entrepreneurial leaders.
Over 600 alumni and friends of Gustavus Adolphus College gathered last Saturday night at the JW Marriott Minneapolis for the biennial fundraising gala “A Royal Affair.” The event raised over a half million dollars to benefit the College’s library endowment and scholarships for first-generation students.
This year marked the 42nd anniversary of the founding of the Gustavus Library Associates. Launched in 1978, the Friends of the Library-Gustavus Library Associates is an award-winning organization of volunteers that supports development of the Folke Bernadotte Library.
This year’s A Royal Affair set a record for giving, surpassing the 2017 gala by more than $100,000.
The emcee for this year’s gala was actor Peter Breitmayer ’87, who has appeared in numerous theater, film, and television productions, including the J.K. Rowling film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the critically acclaimed FX series Fargo. As emcee, Breitmayer brought laughs with stories of failed geology exams and long choir trips from his student days.
Breitmayer was serious in explaining the importance of donor-funded scholarships, noting that he could not have attended Gustavus without support. “Without the aid Gustavus offered, I would never have been able to attend those four years and be guided, sometimes kicking and screaming, through an intellectual, artistic and personal evolution unlike anything in my previous 18 years––and in many ways, the years since.”
The evening’s featured performer was Grammy-winning vocalist Kurt Elling ’89. One of the most acclaimed artists in contemporary jazz, Elling took time for A Royal Affair before leaving for a tour date in Tokyo. In between two sets of standards, Elling visited with former classmates and friends from his days in the Gustavus Choir.
While Elling was the evening’s headliner, it was the current students in the Gustavus Choir who stole the show. Their performance of the hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour,” featuring soloists Rachel Soukup ’22, Holly Fitterer ’21, and Aleah Felton ’20, brought everyone to their feet.
Along with the night’s entertainment, guests bid for dozens of donated items in silent and live auctions. Among the most popular auction items were a hunting trip and farm-to-table dinner prepared by an award-winning chef with President Rebecca Bergman and a one-of-a-kind piece (Adore Knocker, 1969) sculpted by Paul Granlund ‘52. Auctioneer Glen Fladeboe also led a fund-a-need giving event to raise money for the A Royal Affair Promise Scholarship for first-generation students. Guests pledged gifts from $100 to $25,000 in support of the scholarship fund.
President Bergman reminded guests that this year’s gala was part of the Show the World comprehensive campaign. The largest fundraising campaign in Gustavus history, Show the World has a goal of $225 million for the College’s endowment, campus facilities, designated current use, and the Gustavus Fund. With the public launch in September, the campaign has now raised more than $156 million.
One hundred fifty-five men left Bangor, Washington aboard the USS Ohio. Joe May had one job: keep them safe.
For six months.
Sometimes, his days as a US Navy Corpsman seem like a lifetime ago. But two years after stepping down from active duty, the Le Sueur, Minnesota, native continues to keep his medical skills sharp as a junior nursing major at Gustavus Adolphus College.
After graduating high school in 2002, May took some courses at the University of Minnesota’s Duluth and Twin Cities campuses, but left before declaring a major—he just wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. With a couple years of work under his belt, he began to consider the military. After a few conversations with a recruiter and scoring highly enough on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) to have a range of enlistment options, May joined the Navy in 2004. He chose to be a corpsman, or member of the Navy’s medical team.
Then it was time to learn the ropes, with two months of basic training followed by three months of hospital corpsman school at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois. “I was always interested in service to others and being a corpsman was a good opportunity to do that,” May recalls.
His first orders were to Bethesda, Maryland, to serve in a medical-surgical ward. As a technician working in 12-hour shifts, he “pretty much did anything a civilian nurse would do,” May explains. Not long after he began his rotations, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. With just a few days’ notice, he found himself headed for the Gulf Coast on the USNS Comfort, one of the Navy’s two 1,000-bed Mercy-class hospital ships. For seven weeks, May’s team supported relief operations and provided free medical care to nearly 2,000 residents affected by the hurricane.
“I learned really quickly how important it is to be flexible and adaptive to the needs of the patient,” May says. Back in Bethesda, he rounded out his two-year assignment with work in an immunization ward.
Then, his days in a hospital setting were over. May was assigned to Camp Pendleton, California, where he would train with, support, and ultimately deploy to Iraq as a field medic with the 2nd Battalion of the 11th Marine Regiment. He earned the right to wear the Fleet Marine Force insignia, a badge reserved for US Navy personnel who serve with US Marine units and pass physical, weapons, communication, and small-unit tactical qualifications.
After training with his unit and providing day-to-day clinical support on base and mobile medical support during field training operations, May went to Iraq in 2008. Operating out of the Camp Corregidor in the city of Ramadi, his team was a civil affairs unit responsible for rebuilding infrastructure, staging elections, and managing the bidding/contracting process for projects. To do this, they partnered with tribal leaders and elected officials, got feedback on building priorities from the public, and worked to resolve the inevitable conflicts that arose between various groups.
“Teamwork was the big thing in Iraq,” May says. “Serving in an environment like that, it’s really important to lean on the people next to you and support them as well.”
During the occasional downtime that he had in Iraq, May fired up his laptop and joined a relatively new social media website—Facebook. There, he would trade messages back and forth with people from home, reconnecting with friends, family, and one old acquaintance from high school, a young woman named Elizabeth Johnson. The two hit it off, building a long-distance relationship that blossomed once May returned from Iraq and was back to a more regular schedule at Camp Pendleton. Johnson moved to California so the two could be together.
Then the Navy came calling again. Orders this time were to report to Groton, Connecticut, for advanced training at the Naval Undersea Medical Institute. May put away his combat boots and bid farewell to the deserts of California and Iraq—he was about to become a submariner.
“Undersea medical training is all about learning to operate in an isolated and independent environment,” May explains. “When you’re on a submarine, you’re the only corpsman responsible for the health and wellbeing of everyone on board.”
Back on the West Coast as a newlywed, May was assigned to the USS Nevada, a ballistic missile submarine that serves as part of the United States’ nuclear deterrent strategy. He was the submarine’s corpsman for five multi-month patrols over the next three years. Serving as the only medical expert on the 560-foot boat was “like being a long-haired cat in a room full of rocking chairs,” May recalls, explaining the analogy that one of his corpsman mentors often used to describe the unpredictability of underwater life.
Get a splinter? Go see “Doc” May. Crack your head on the bulkhead and need stitches? Doc has you covered. Need antibiotics to fight an infection? Check. Toothache? He’ll pull the tooth or give you a rudimentary filling, but he’s the first to admit that you might want to see a dentist as soon as you’re back in port.
As Elizabeth and Joe talked about starting a family, he began to think about leaving active duty. But first, he agreed to take one more assignment, this time on the USS Ohio, because its shared base with the Nevada meant that the young couple wouldn’t have to move again.
Though built to the same specifications as the Nevada, the Ohio is one of four submarines in its class to be retrofitted to serve as a guided missile submarine. It can carry up to 154 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles to support military operations and be used for the delivery of special operations personnel. May’s patrols on the Ohio were longer than the Nevada, up to six months at a time, but the day-to-day work of keeping his fellow sailors healthy was largely the same.
His second patrol on the Ohio ended in February of 2017. He’d been back in port for just 40 hours when his son was born. In the months preceding his birth, Joe and Elizabeth discussed what to name him, bouncing possible ideas back and forth as they prepared for life with their firstborn and Joe’s upcoming separation from active duty. Nothing seemed quite right, but then one of them floated the idea of “Murphy.” With his Irish heritage, May liked the ring of it. They looked up the meaning of the name. Son of Sea Warrior. It was settled.
With 13 years in the Navy under his belt, Petty Officer First Class Joe May (HN1) transitioned from active duty to the Navy Reserve in June 2017, moving back to Le Sueur with Elizabeth and Murphy.
Two years later, May is an active participant in his nursing classes at Gustavus. He helps his classmates along, sharing bits of his hands-on experience as they rotate through clinicals and labs. “My time in the military has given me insight into how my education will be applied in the real world,” says May. “Helping my fellow students talk through the concepts also reinforces them for me, which is really helpful.”
Next year, May will graduate from Gustavus with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Behind him will be 13 years on active duty, a liberal arts foundation, and a loving family that has supported him around the world and back. In front of him? The opportunity to continue serving others, guided by a wealth of experience and the well-rounded education at Gustavus.
“My life experiences have been sometimes good and sometimes bad, but they brought me here,” May says.
“And I’m right where I need to be.”
Two young companies that got their start at Gustavus Adolphus College continued their upward trajectories Oct. 14-15 at the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation Entrepreneurial Bridge Student Business Plan Competition. Both Gustie teams competed in the event using designs they developed while competing in the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup last spring.
Alijah Nelson ’19, who won the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup in May, teamed up with Anierobi Eziolise ’18, Oliver Frempong ’20, and Mohammed Sheikh ’20 to take home the first-place prize of $5,000 at the Southern Minnesota event. Their company, JockLab, is working to further develop their product, “D-Up,” which is essentially a training robot that plays defense against a solo player in a game of basketball.
Nelson’s growing company recently secured a partnership with students at Minnesota State University, Mankato to continue to develop the technical side of the product. “Engineering seniors at MNSU will work on developing our product as part of their senior year project,” the recent Gustavus alumnus said.
The other Gustie company at the event was School Shark, led by current students Weston Lombard ’21 and John Campisi ’21. The team took third place at the Gustie Cup in the spring and won the People’s Choice award (which includes a $2,000 prize) at the Southern Minnesota competition. Their product is an app that allows college students buy and sell textbooks to and from each other, creating lower prices for consumers than they may find by purchasing a new textbook.
“What inspired us to continue School Shark was our own personal experience of the problem we are solving and the impact we had at Gustavus in our first year. It’s a nationwide problem and our goal is to help as many students lessen the burden of the price of college textbooks as possible,” Lombard said.
Tom Clement, who serves as the Ogden P. and Elizabeth Confer Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Gustavus Department of Economics and Management and Associate Director of the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup, worked closely with both teams last spring.
“School Shark, as an idea, was actually developed in my January Interim Experience course in 2019. I have continued to remain close with the founders and they seek help and advice regularly,” Clement said. While the success of the companies is rewarding for the students, the professor especially enjoys the opportunity to with students through these kinds of mentorships.
“Entrepreneurship has been basically my whole life, in one form or another, for the past 48 years. I think it is the duty and obligation of entrepreneurs to pass that knowledge and experience on to others. It is exciting when I am able to work with students of all disciplines and backgrounds to develop their ideas and solve problems,” Clement said.
Lombard is thankful to his fellow students for helping shape School Shark into what it is today.
“We can’t thank Gusties enough for believing in us and proving that what we are doing can really help college students in a big way. Thank you, Gusties,” Lombard said.
After being created and nurtured at Gustavus, the futures of JockLab and School Shark are looking bright.
“Winning the Southern Minnesota cup helped us generate traction and expand the audience for our startup company,” Nelson said. “JockLab is on track to launch a crowdfunding campaign early spring of 2020.”
The founders have similar goals for School Shark.
“School Shark works and it needs to be brought to more students. We are expanding to new schools this year, a couple notable ones being the University of Iowa, Loyola University Chicago, and the University of Minnesota, Duluth,” Lombard said.
With both of these companies taking off, it’s clear that the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup has the potential to open life-changing doors for students.
“Entrepreneurship is the gateway to the economy for many and it is how regular people make the largest impact on the world. Good ideas are not biased and are not dependent on gender, race, color, religion, etc… If it solves a problem, that’s what matters,” Clement said.
Gustavus Adolphus College provides an excellent environment for aspiring entrepreneurs. A liberal arts focus on critical thinking and creative problem solving are hallmarks of a Gustavus education. Students excel at spotting opportunities and working in team environments. This is evidenced by the many talented alumni who have mastered these skills and built successful enterprises. Learn more about opportunities, including the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup and “Gustie Tank,” at the Gustavus entrepreneurship website.