Announcements

Luther College to welcome students back in the fall with a modified academic calendar

The plan allows for in-person learning and flexibility to respond to the ongoing pandemic 

Luther College will welcome students back to campus for the 2020-21 academic school year using a phased and modular approach that is flexible and responsive to the changing conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic and directives from government agencies.

“Luther College is driven by a mission that, in part, encourages students to confront a changing society while learning in community amidst the confluence of river, woodland, and prairie. We move forward with this plan because of its potential to bring us together again in this place so that we may live out that mission,” said President Jenifer K. Ward. “While we realize that nothing is certain, we step confidently and courageously into the future, knowing that the pandemic will continue to challenge all aspects of ‘business as usual’ and that we have the ability to find innovative ways of being, learning and working in its midst.”

The proposal was crafted by the Academic Planning Group, a subgroup of the Emergency Response Team and approved by President Ward and her Cabinet in consultation with faculty governance committees and the Board of Regents. This framework has also been shared with Winneshiek County Public Health. The plan allows Luther to fulfill its educational mission while taking into consideration the possibility of a local outbreak and the health of the Decorah economy, which relies on Luther students, faculty and staff being on campus.

Luther College’s 2020-21 academic calendar will include a September Term (four weeks; one course), a First Fall Quarter (seven weeks; two courses), a Second Fall Quarter (seven weeks; two courses), a Spring Semester (15 weeks; four courses) and a June Term (four weeks; one course).

“The Board of Regents reviewed the options and preliminary plan to support a return to on-campus learning in the fall of 2020,” said Wendy Davidson, chair of the Board of Regents and 1992 Luther alumna. “We sincerely appreciate the comprehensive approach to consider multiple scenarios that retain the flexibility to evolve as the situation continues to unfold in the weeks and months ahead, and to provide first and foremost for the safety of our students, faculty and staff while also delivering on the mission and vision of a distinctive Luther College education. We fully support President Ward and her team, and the faculty leadership, for the tireless work they are doing at this unprecedented time in our history.”

During September Term, only first-year students will live on campus and participate in face-to-face learning. This plan acknowledges the importance of the first-year experience with respect to persistence and graduation rates while keeping the campus population down. Pending a decision by the American Rivers Conference, fall athletes will also return to campus but sophomore, junior and senior athletes will take classes virtually. All other students will participate in online courses, internships and potentially low-residency courses in Rochester, MN while residing off campus.

All courses in the two Fall Quarters and Spring Semester will use face-to-face instruction with students residing on campus, unless shifts to online instruction are deemed necessary by Luther College in response to directives and guidance from federal and state governments or state and local public health agencies.

The June Term will focus on study-away courses (domestic and international) that were originally scheduled for January Term 2021.

Michael Osterholm, Luther class of 1975, chairs Luther College’s Board of Regents Academic Affairs Committee and serves as the Director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Having advised the executive board of the American Council on Education and the executive team at the University of Minnesota on college openings this fall, Dr. Osterholm considers Luther”s plan “thoughtful,” “aspirational yet realistic” and “doable.”

“The creative ways that Luther College has identified to provide quality student education and the means it has considered to quickly alter those plans if conditions with the pandemic suddenly change are right on the mark,” said Osterholm. “I am confident that the students, faculty, staff and administration at Luther College, as well as the Decorah community are well served by this thoughtful approach.”

Because COVID-19 presents an unprecedented infectious disease risk for all persons, the duration of the pandemic remains unclear, and the situation continues to evolve, Luther is preparing on multiple fronts to protect individual and community health. Preparations include: coordination with local and state health authorities and systems; increased cleaning routines throughout the campus; arrangement of spaces to enable social distancing and protection of frontline workers; acquiring PPE, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, masks, and other protective items for all Luther community members who need them; investigating protocols for testing and contact-tracing methods in case of an infection on campus; establishing quarantine locations for students who may become infected; and other necessary steps.

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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Four Luther College students awarded Karen Julesberg Scholarship

Four Luther College students have each received a $1,000 Karen Julesberg Scholarship for the 2020-21 academic year. The recipients are Jacey Davis, Ga-Young Kim, Erica Kruse and Rebekah (Lazzeroni) Nteso.

(L-R): Jacey Davis, Go-Young Kim, Erica Kruse, Rebekah (Lazzeroni) Nteso.

The Karen Julesberg Scholarship benefits Luther College students involved in the TRIO Achievement Program. TRIO provides customized support and comprehensive programming that promotes students’ academic success, personal development and sense of community. The federally-funded program has been sponsored by Luther for nearly 50 years and serves approximately 180 students annually.

Karen Julesberg of Madison, Wisconsin, Luther class of 1960, has sponsored the scholarship since 2012.

“When I was considering the many worthwhile opportunities that support Luther students and programs, it took me some time to select one that not only fit my interests but also touched my heart,” said Julesberg. “Once I learned about TRIO, with its variety of activities designed to support income-eligible and first-generation students, my choice was easy.”

Jacey Davis of Pella, Iowa, is majoring in anthropology and social work with a Nordic studies minor. Her leadership roles include working as a resident assistant, wellness ambassador and president of GrandPALS, a mentoring program that pairs Luther students with nursing home residents. She has raised money and awareness as a walk coordinator for the National Eating Disorders Association and participated in the Believing & Achieving program with Decorah Community School District. Davis will graduate next year with the Luther College class of 2021.

Ga-Young Kim of Waukee, Iowa, is a nursing major. Her leadership positions include working as a biology/physiology tutor and a resident assistant and serving as the Student Activities Council Concerts co-chair. In addition to TRIO, she is involved in Habitat for Humanity, Dance Marathon, K-Pop dance group, stage management and the Luther Student Nurses Association. She will earn her nursing degree from Luther College in 2022.

Erica Kruse of Caledonia, Minnesota, is double majoring in art and English. A student assistant for the college English Department, she also serves on the editorial board for the student literary journal, “The Oneota Review,” and is a freelance artist specializing in painting, drawing and calligraphy. On weekends, she helps out on the dairy farm her family has owned and operated for four generations. She will graduate from Luther College in 2022.

Rebekah (Lazzeroni) Nteso of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, is an accounting major with a minor in music. She serves as treasurer for the Luther College Black Student Union and plays in the Luther College Symphony Orchestra. She is also one of three peer leaders in the TRIO Achievement Program. In this role, she mentors first-year students and assists with the Foundations for Learning and Development course available to incoming TRIO participants. She will graduate from Luther College in 2022.

For questions about the TRIO Achievement Program or to learn more visit www.luther.edu/trio or contact Tammy Hove, director, at tammy.hove@luther.edu.

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

 

Project underway at Luther College will increase energy sustainability

The director of Luther College’s Center for Sustainable Communities, Jim Martin-Schramm, will present “Solar to Storage” during the Winneshiek Energy District’s May Online Lunch from 12-1 p.m. Tuesday, May 19. During the online event, Martin-Schramm will discuss a new project happening at Luther that includes a new solar array and an associated battery storage solution.

This initiative will more than double the amount of solar energy that serves the campus. It will also provide an energy storage solution that will enable Luther to reduce peak demand, which is the most expensive electricity to purchase.

Jim Martin-Schramm

“We are very excited about this new solar array as it is projected to produce about 10% of Luther’s annual electricity consumption,” said Martin-Schramm. “It will help the college reduce campus operating costs while also reducing Luther’s carbon footprint.”

Ranked nationally in the top 10 colleges for campus sustainability, Luther has made serious commitments to energy efficiency and renewable energy with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70% and becoming carbon neutral by year 2030. Of course, the institution cannot tackle this feat alone.

“Luther is proud to partner with a second local investor on this project. This public-private partnership to develop more renewable energy will recycle energy dollars in the local economy and is consistent with the mission of the Winneshiek Energy District and Luther College,” said Martin-Schramm.

This multi-million-dollar initiative is expected to be up and operational within the next six months.

To learn more about this project and the logic behind storing solar power for future use visit energydistrict.org/events/breakfast/ to register for the webinar by Monday, May 18.

Jim Martin-Schramm is the director of the Center for Sustainable Communities and Professor of Religion. He provides oversight to all areas of sustainability at Luther as well as working to expand the center’s outreach to the community and region. He has served on the boards of the Iowa Wind Energy Association and Iowa Interfaith Power & Light. He continues to serve on the board of the Winneshiek Energy District. He also serves as Secretary of Luther College Wind Energy Project, LLC. Most of his research has focused on ethics and public policy. He holds a doctorate in Christian Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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Luther College recognized as a chapter of the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society

Luther College is now a recognized chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD). ALD is a national honor society known for recognizing first-year student success in higher education with a mission to promote a continued high standard of learning and encourage superior academic achievement.

ALD Crest

“It is important that we recognize student academic achievement early on in the undergraduate experience as the first-year serves as the foundation for future learning and growth,” says Lisa Scott, vice president of institutional equity and inclusion and student success. “We are proud to now be able to provide this great opportunity to our students.”

In its first year, Luther will be inviting eligible sophomores and juniors to be members of this prestigious honor society. To become an eligible member of ALD, a student must be enrolled full-time at Luther and earn a 3.5 grade point average or higher their first year.

“Luther College joins a group of more than 300 prestigious colleges and universities with membership in Alpha Lamda Delta. With an emphasis on academic recognition, ALD also provides unique opportunities and access to academic scholarships,” says Scott.

Members enjoy benefits exclusive to ALD including becoming eligible for more than $211,000 in undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships and an undergraduate scholarship to study abroad, as well as access to leadership and engagement opportunities abroad and exclusive member discounts.

Alpha Lambda Delta is a member of ACHS, the Association of College Honor Societies, which sets standards for national honor society excellence and serves as the only certifying agency for college and university honor societies in the nation.

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

Luther College announces Steven Mark Anderson Scholarship winners

Isabel de la Cruz Hexom, Trina Elsinger, Samantha Feucht-Vandemore, Abigail Miller, Ochain Okey, Thuan Tran

Six Luther College students have each received a $1,000 Steven Mark Anderson Scholarship for the 2020–21 academic year. Recipients include Isabel de la Cruz Hexom, Trina Elsinger, Samantha Feucht-Vandemore, Abigail Miller, Ochain Okey and Thuan Tran.

The Steven Mark Anderson Scholarship was established in 2001 by Lloyd and Kathy Anderson of Ames, Iowa, in memory of their son, Pastor Steven Mark Anderson, who graduated from Luther in 1985.

The scholarship benefits Luther College students involved in the TRIO Achievement Program. TRIO provides customized support and comprehensive programming that promotes student academic success, personal development and sense of community. The federally funded program has been sponsored by Luther for nearly 50 years and serves approximately 180 students annually.

Isabel de la Cruz Hexom is a sophomore majoring in social work with a minor in music. She attended high school in Decorah and previously attended a private Catholic school in Spain. She plays in the Luther College Concert Band and Pep Band, and she serves as a tutor in Luther’s Language Learning Center and as an outreach assistant for Counseling Service. Through Tau Delta Gamma sorority, she has volunteered for a local nursing home and the Humane Society and has assisted with highway cleanup. In January, she completed an internship with Helping Services for Youth and Families. She will graduate from Luther in 2022.

Trina Elsinger is a sophomore from Dubuque, Iowa. She is studying anthropology and classical studies at Luther. She is a member of the cheer team for football and basketball, and she was recently selected as cheer captain. Elsinger has served as a counselor at Camp EWALU in Strawberry Point, Iowa, and currently works as a student manager for the Luther catering team. She will graduate in 2022 from Luther.

Samantha Feucht-Vandemore is a sophomore from Canton, South Dakota. She is majoring in social work with a leadership studies minor. She loves animals and volunteering at Thunder Road Therapeutic Riding of Decorah, where she interacts with a variety of people, including youth and veterans. Feucht-Vandemore also enjoys playing handbells, including during the Christmas at Luther program. She has served as a camp counselor the past two summers and is employed as a student manager at Marty’s Cyber Café. She plans to enlist with the U.S. Army Reserves in addition to pursuing her master of social work (MSW) degree. She will graduate from Luther College with the class of 2022.

Abigail Miller is a sophomore from St. Charles, Minnesota. A biology major with a minor in environmental studies, she spent the 2019–20 academic year working for the Luther College Biology Department, most recently contributing to the Luther research insect collection and caring for the live insects and marine tank as the entomology lab assistant. She has volunteered at Whitewater State Park helping care for turtles and with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banding Canadian geese and surveying prairie bumble bees. As a member of Luther College Habitat for Humanity, she participated in a build last year in Sante Fe, New Mexico. She plans to attend graduate school after completing her Luther studies in 2022.

Ochain Okey is a sophomore from Austin, Minnesota. He is majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. His campus memberships include Habitat for Humanity, Black Student Union (BSU), Norse Against Sexual Assault (NASA), Chemistry Club and Health Science Club. In addition, he is active musically, having played his bassoon in Wind and Percussion Ensemble, Philharmonia, and Concert Band. He received the Outstanding First Year Student Award in 2019 from the TRIO program. Following his 2022 Luther College graduation, Okey plans to earn doctor of pharmacy and master of public health degrees. In preparation, he completed the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) at the University of Iowa and has been accepted to the Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the University of Minnesota.

Thuan Tran is a junior psychology major and biology minor. She was born in Vietnam, grew up in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and participated in the 2019–20 Luther-sponsored study abroad program in Nottingham, England. An advocate for children with autism, she makes an impact as a mentor through the Luther PALS program and as a nanny for local families. In addition, she has served as a positive ambassador for the college in her roles with the Welcome Desk and Mail Center. She received the Communication Award from the TRIO program and was selected to the American Rivers Conference All-Academic Team as a member of Luther College Women’s Tennis. After graduating from Luther in 2021, she plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology with an emphasis in autism.

For questions about the TRIO Achievement Program or to learn more visit www.luther.edu/trio or contact Tammy Hove, director, at tammy.hove@luther.edu.

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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Luther College will not require ACT/SAT test scores for fall 2021 admission

DECORAH, Iowa – Due in part to the global impacts of COVID-19, Luther College will not require ACT/SAT scores for admission for students applying for entry in fall 2021. 

“We certainly want to ease some of the stress students are feeling as it relates to the upcoming college application process,” said Derek Hartl, vice president for enrollment management. “This decision was made for a variety of reasons, including the desire to remove barriers for students who may be impacted by canceled test dates or other education disruptions during these times.”

The college’s admissions process will continue to place an emphasis on academic achievement (high school transcript), leadership examples, a personal statement and letter of recommendation. Prospective students applying for entry in fall 2021 may choose to submit a standardized test score for consideration, but it will not be required. 

The admission requirement to include standardized test scores has been the subject of debate for many years. In fact, more than 1,100 colleges and universities do not require applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. Luther College is considering making this a permanent change and will use this time to determine if this is the right path for the future. 

New Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Luther College proving valuable

How CELT is helping faculty members during these times of distance learning

The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Luther College (CELT) opened its doors at Luther College in September 2019. Directed by Kate Elliot, CELT promotes student success by providing a space for faculty members to gather to learn inclusive, innovative classroom practices and to collaborate with and learn from peers across disciplines. No one could have predicted how valuable this center would be when the shift was made to distance learning in mid-March.

As signs started to point to the inevitable shift to online learning, CELT assembled a team that would be ready to help faculty members make the switch. The team put together a landing page for faculty called Moving Your Courses Online Rapidly. The page includes video training and written instructions on how to make the most of the digital tools available to faculty. CELT also offers in-person consultations to faculty with specific needs; the team troubleshoots software issues and gathers new digital media resources.

It’s not only establishing the means of teaching and the content that are of high priority for CELT, relationship sustaining and building is as well, especially during these isolating times.

“The challenge is how to keep the sense of connectedness and the relationships that are the core of a residential liberal arts college experience,” said Sean Burke, associate dean and director of faculty development. “We’re trying to help faculty think through how to do that through more limited means, like one-on-one conferencing or breaking your class into small groups that can do some Google Hangouts with each other.”

Jacki Wright

For some faculty members, like Jacki Wright, associate professor in health promotion and exercise science, the world of online teaching was totally foreign. Now, Wright says she is happy to have CELT as a resource and ultimately believes this challenge has made her a better teacher.

“I had to learn new technology quickly but have found this process to be stimulating, challenging and fun!” Wright said. “One of the positives about this experience is that I have to think more outside the box to discover creative ways to engage students and keep them excited to learn.”

CELT has empowered professors to teach and connect with students even through a new kind of classroom so student learning prevails. For more information about this new center visit www.luther.edu/celt.

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

Luther College plans virtual commencement experience to celebrate graduates on May 24

Luther College is planning a virtual commencement experience to celebrate its Class of 2020.

“We’re so proud of our seniors, and an achievement like graduating from college shouldn’t pass without some pomp and circumstance. So, just as we have creatively found ways to learn and connect during this time of separation, we also are developing meaningful ways to mark and celebrate Commencement—together in spirit while physically apart,” said President Jenifer K. Ward.

Due to public health concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and state and national social distancing recommendations, the decision was made to postpone in-person Spring 2020 Commencement, set for May 24. In its place will be a special, Virtual Commencement.

Kristen Underwood, director of campus programming, is leading this effort.

“It’s so important to mark the milestone of commencement. It’s important for the graduates who worked so hard to get here, for their families and support systems, and for the whole Luther community,” said Underwood. “We may not be able to gather in person right now, but we’re not going to let that distract us from creating a joyful and meaningful commencement experience.”

Virtual Commencement will be available for all to watch online at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 24. To take part, visit luther.edu/commencement or follow Luther College on Facebook at facebook.com/luthercollege.

“I hope that during this Virtual Commencement, students will dress up, take pictures and interact on social media. I also hope that by making the commencement experience available online at a prescribed time, graduates will feel the full community behind them, and know that they are with their classmates in spirit,” said Underwood.

While this virtual gathering will be memorable in itself, Luther is committed to celebrating this important milestone in person as well. The details of an in-person commencement will be determined at a later date, when it is safe to host such an event.

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

Luther College partners with Sodexo to further reduce food waste

Luther College is partnering with Sodexo to employ a data-driven program to further reduce food waste.

Luther College Cafeteria lunch service

Luther’s partnership with Sodexo is part of the WasteWatch powered by Leanpath Program. This program’s goal is to prevent an average of 50% of their food waste. Through their partnership with schools and other companies like Luther, Sodexo will be able to capture data on how, where and why food is being wasted, so they can develop and implement operational and behavioral changes that will help put an end to avoidable food waste.

“We have always tracked kitchen waste and have reduced it considerably over the past number of years. This has meant daily manual calculations of weights and costs and not always having the facts and figures at your fingertips,” said Wayne Tudor, general manager for the Luther College Norse Culinary Team. “We will still do the weighing of waste after each meal as we do now but it will now be entered into a tablet to be tracked in an online program that will store historical information and point out trends and issues as they arise.”

Sodexo’s goal is to expand the program to all relevant Sodexo sites by the year 2025, in an effort to cut their food waste and losses from its operations in half by the same year.

Luther senior, Nick Schanstra, a management major and communication studies minor, is a Future Leader Intern at the college through Sodexo and is heading up the WasteWatch system on campus. He describes the impact of this project on the Luther community as one more way to make Luther the most sustainable campus possible.

“Through deeply driven analytics, we can pinpoint exact food types that are overproduced and then curb the waste—making Luther’s food production more efficient. Food waste will be looked at differently in the future because of the added data. Here at Luther, we tracked all the waste before WasteWatch, however, it was not backed by computer analysis,” said Schanstra.

“This is just one example of how we can use technology to assist in our mission to control waste and achieve a more sustainable tomorrow,” said Tudor.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states that approximately one-third of food produced globally for human consumption goes to waste. This is an unsettling statistic in relation to the ones depicting the number of people, approximately 820 million, who suffered from undernourishment in 2018. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN also states that there is more than enough food being produced in the world to feed everyone on the planet, so if we as a global community are able to reduce our food waste by half, the amount of food available to the malnourished would increase substantially.

“We need to accelerate the fight against food waste for the sake of humanity and in light of hunger worldwide. The rapid deployment of WasteWatch powered by Leanpath is our rally cry across Sodexo to do our part, while empowering our clients and the consumers we serve. We must track how much food is discarded at each and every one of our food service sites – and we are committed to make these figures public to bring a sense of urgency and motivate us to always do better,” said Denis Machuel, Sodexo chief executive officer. “Beyond data, the program is a revolutionary approach to food services. Our chefs, supply experts, site managers and frontline teams are trained and encouraged to think creatively and innovate in the way we plan, use and serve food to reduce avoidable waste.”

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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