Luther College graduates receive Fulbright awards

Two Luther College graduates have been selected as Fulbright teaching assistants for the 2020-21 academic year. The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced that Shannon Baker and Madeleine Flom-Staab, both class of 2020, have received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award.

Given the coronavirus crisis and the U.S. State Department advisories against international travel, the Fulbright program has delayed the start of grants until after January 1, 2021.

Shannon Baker ’20, from Duluth, Minnesota, graduated with majors in English (Writing) and Spanish. She was selected for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Peru. Baker’s interest in teaching English began on a mission trip to Nicaragua her first year at Luther, during which she volunteered each day at local schools.

“I absolutely loved it – the challenge of teaching one’s own learned-from-birth language, the job of connecting with the kids and watching them learn, I loved all of it,” said Baker.

Her interest in Peru grew during her semester studying in Chile, where she learned about the culture and history of Peru through the eyes of its South American neighbors.

One of the reasons Baker chose to apply for a Fulbright award is the program’s commitment to community engagement and mutual understanding across cultures. She looks forward to helping students share their culture and stories in their English classes. When not teaching, Baker hopes to connect with her host community by volunteering in a children’s home or other youth organizations. After completing her year in Peru, Baker plans to continue teaching, either in the U.S. or abroad.

“I could see this leading me on many paths: Spanish education, ESL education, linguistics…whatever it looks like, I am excited to see how my passions for Spanish, teaching, writing and sharing stories manifest within it all.”

Madeleine Flom-Staab ’20, from St. Paul, Minnesota, graduated with majors in German and psychology and a minor in social welfare. Flom-Staab received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany, however, she has declined this award to accept a United States Teaching Assistantship in Austria.

Joseph Keeley ’20, a history and political science major from of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, has been named an alternate in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for 2020-21 and may receive a Fulbright grant if funding becomes available for an English Teaching Assistantship in South Korea.

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

The Fulbright Program

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the U.S. and people of other countries, counter misunderstandings, and help people and nations work together toward common goals. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and find solutions to shared international concerns. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit

Helping Hands for YOUR Resilience Garden

Please join the Resilience Garden Project! Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) wants to help you in YOUR garden this season. Through SSE’s Resilience Gardens Project and the COVID-19 Recovery AmeriCorps Program, SSE is looking to assist individuals and organizations with growing and seed saving in a socially distanced manner. We are hoping to use our time working with people who meet one or more of the following criteria:


  1. New to gardening – those who may want help with learning how to start and maintain a garden and/or need extra hands to find success while learning. This could be every once in a while, or regularly throughout the season
  2. New to seed saving – those who want help with learning how to add seed saving to a home garden
  3. Interested in growing surplus food for community donation – those who have the space, but require more hands and time (we have extra seeds and transplants available for this as well – let us know if you’d like some!)

It is our priority to help in a safe and effective way by following safety protocols and social distancing. All assistance is completely free of charge – and we want to help! Our aim is to help ensure local resilience by working towards area food and seed security. If you are interested in working with us, please click here to fill out this form. We hope to hear from you!


My name is Annika Krieg and I am looking for opportunities to tutor/nanny this summer! In light of the effect covid-19 has had on education, I would love to offer my services in order to provide your student/child with opportunities to continue learning and growing in these uncertain times. I just recently graduated with a BA degree in Elementary Education at Wartburg College and love spending time with kiddos. I have taught and worked with a variety of students in K-6 in one on one, small group as well as large group instruction settings. Needless to say, I have a lot of experience working with children, and I absolutely love it! Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you or anyone you know is interested, and feel free to share my name with anyone in need! I would love to reach out and get connected. Thank you!

Luther College community reflects on Nordic values during COVID-19 pandemic

DECORAH, Iowa – A unique project has recently wrapped up at Luther College where students and alumni were asked to reflect on how Nordic values are being utilized during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maren Johnson, assistant professor and director of the Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies, was looking for a way to connect current students with alumni who share a passion for the Nordic region.

“Nordic Studies is thriving at Luther, with nearly 90 students in our classes, 18 of whom are majors,” Johnson said. “During this time of social isolation, I wanted to find a way to build community among current and former students.”

Nordic Studies is the in-depth study of the Nordic region (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland). The discipline examines how the literature, history, language, politics and culture inform and shape norms and values present in the region today.

Johnson invited people to identify some important Nordic values and social norms, and how they saw them being used to address the coronavirus crisis.

“Graduates from multiple decades responded. One alumnus witnesses the Nordic value of janteloven, the cultural code of humility and selflessness, in the hospital where he works. Several are discovering more fully the value of friluftsliv, or purposeful, immersive time outdoors, while being confined to the indoors has raised the importance of koselig or hygge which is embracing a ‘cozy’ way of life with a focus on contentment and wellbeing in one’s living space,” said Johnson.

As a clinical psychologist and educator, Timothy Baardseth ’00, said he is inspired by colleagues and staff at his hospital and graduate school as they embrace the egalitarian value that no person is either better or worse than anyone else.

“Their willingness to place the needs of their patients and students in front of their own is awe-inspiring,” wrote Baardseth. “I believe that the egalitarian spirit of the janteloven will ultimately be an underlying societal factor that helps us to overcome these tumultuous times.”

Trust was another common theme in the responses. In the Nordic region, there is trust among people and trust in public authorities and institutions. Equality, including gender equality, was mentioned as well by Ingrid Urberg ’84.

“The contributions of all members of society across a myriad of job sectors are necessary for a functioning and healthy community,” wrote Urberg. “This focus on equality and the practice of social solidarity has resulted in a robust and valued universal health care system which is serving the Nordic region well during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

To read all of the responses, visit

The Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies honors Luther College’s legacy as the first college in the United States founded by Norwegian immigrants. Its mission is to foster connections with today’s Nordic region through innovative programs and partnerships. It is the only endowed undergraduate Nordic studies center in the United States.

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 College receives $100,000 grant from The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation

The grant will fund educational opportunities for high-need students in honor of Arne Sorenson

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation awarded a grant of $100,000 to Luther College in honor of Marriott International CEO and Luther alumnus, Arne Sorenson ’80, who recently completed his third term and final year of service on the Luther College Board of Regents. During Sorenson’s final board meeting on May 8, news of this generous grant to Luther was shared with the full board.

Arne Sorenson ’80

“I was grateful to be asked to serve on Luther’s Board of Regents for the last 12 years. It is a special place to me,” said Arne Sorenson. “As my service as a Regent comes to an end, I was thrilled to hear about the Marriott Family Foundation’s grant. It will enable Luther to deepen the impact it has on its students, preparing many more for successful careers of meaning and impact.”

The $100,000 grant will be used to establish a Marriott Success Award Fund for students who are recipients of the Morris A. Sorenson Family Scholarship. Established by Arne’s father, Morris Sorenson, a distinguished Luther graduate, and generously endowed by Arne and his wife, Ruth, this scholarship supports some of Luther’s most high-need students throughout their four years of college.

“I am truly grateful for the Marriott Family Foundation’s generosity in honoring Arne Sorenson as he concludes his service to the Luther College Board of Regents, and for the wisdom and leadership Arne has offered to the Board over the years,” said President Jenifer K. Ward. “Both Marriott and Luther have benefited from his clear-eyed and passionate dedication to hospitality, in all senses of the word, and it is so very fitting that Luther students will continue to be welcomed to Luther with the assistance that these awards will provide.”

This grant will help to ensure recipients of the Morris A. Sorenson Family Scholarship have the necessary financial resources to fully engage with experiential learning (e.g., internship, service learning trip, collaborative research fellowship) and other high-impact experiences as part of their liberal arts education. It will also be used to fund textbooks, lab supplies or other necessities that may be out of reach for high-need students.

“Our Foundation shares a passion for creating opportunities for those who may not have the means to achieve their educational goals,” said J.W. Marriott, Jr. trustee of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “We were delighted to honor Arne with this special grant to assist students at his beloved alma mater. Creating Marriott Success Awards at Luther College is a meaningful way of connecting our family’s philanthropy to a student scholarship created by his family’s philanthropy.”

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation is committed to sustaining vibrant, healthy communities where all people have the opportunities and means to achieve their dreams and make a positive difference in the world. Through its grants, the Foundation supports effective organizations that are creating significant, lasting and transformational change either through smart and innovative responses to today’s needs or through systematic solutions that address the root causes of economic and societal challenges.

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 College’s Asha Aden named 2020 Jenson Medal recipient

DECORAH, Iowa – Luther College’s Asha Aden of Rochester, Minnesota received the college’s Jenson Medal for the class of 2020. The announcement was made during the Virtual Commencement ceremony on May 24.

Luther’s Jenson Medal is presented each year to an outstanding senior, selected by the graduating class, who best demonstrates the ideals of the college through service to students and the college community. Established through an endowment gift from Luther alumni Elizabeth A. Jenson ’45 and Paul G. Jenson ’47, of Vassalboro, Maine, the Jenson Medal supports Luther College’s mission of service.

“As a Luther student, it was important for me to serve my fellow students and college community because we live in such a divided world,” said Aden. “If we want to unite the global community, we need to first become a global community. This means we look out for each other, we support each other and we validate each other’s lived (different) realities.”

Through involvement in groups including the Black Student Union, Interfaith in Action and Student Senate, Aden actively worked to create a “beloved” community.

“Martin Luther King talked about a “beloved” community. I wanted Luther’s community to be a beloved community. This can only happen if we are united against hate and work toward equity, justice and liberation for all people. Working towards this was a difficult and rewarding experience for me. It was difficult to have these kinds of conversations, but it was rewarding experiencing the positive changes in policies and responses among the Luther community,” said Aden.

When reflecting on her time at Luther, Aden mentioned she changed her major, made new friends from across the world and fell in love with the chocolate chip cookie from Marty’s.

“I learned about ‘what makes us human’ from Paideia, I traveled to Hawaii to study for J-term and I made lifelong connections with the staff, faculty and the administration,” Aden continued. “But the best part of college? It is undoubtedly the Luther community. This community uplifts you, encourages you and is always there for you. This group of people is so extraordinary. The Luther community has taught me how to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously.”

Aden plans to seek employment in a field where she can make a difference, preferably in Washington D.C. She also plans to attend graduate school for religious studies.

To watch Aden’s address during Luther’s 2020 Virtual Commencement visit

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

2020 Driftless Safari

Driftless Safari is a long-term, outdoor scavenger hunt that covers all of Winneshiek County. It is free and open to anyone that loves to explore and visit some of Winneshiek County’s greatest places. The 2020 Safari will run from Friday, May 22 until Halloween.


This year, in an effort to keep participants safe, there will be no materials to pick up at libraries. Visit the Driftless Safari website to download a printable guidebook and learn more about how Driftless Safari will work in 2020.


Participants should stay in appropriate group size and maintain social distancing and other protective measures. Please respect other participants and any park or trail closures.

The 2020 Driftless Safari is made possible through the generous support of the Center for Sustainable Communities at Luther College, Family Table Restaurant, the Winneshiek County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Winneshiek County Conservation.

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


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 or contact Tammy Hove, director, at

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


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