Luther College Alumni awarded Torrison and Williams medical scholarships for 2019-20

Luther College Alumni, Ethan Thonn ’18 and Anneleise Frie ’19, have both been awarded a graduate medical education scholarship through the Torrison and Williams Scholarship Program for the 2019-20 academic year.

The Dr. George and Emma J. Torrison Scholarship fund and Fredrick W. Williams Scholarship fund annually award scholarships to students who intend to pursue careers in medicine. Endowments are managed by the Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Frie studied biology while attending Luther College and is perusing her MD at UW- Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health within the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine (WARM) program. Frie hopes to work as a physician in rural areas of Wisconsin that are in need of healthcare providers.

“I feel extremely honored to be awarded the scholarship,” said Frie. “This scholarship will not only financially contribute towards my medical school career, but it also represents who I am and what I have overcome to achieve my goals thus far.”

Thonn studied biology and chemistry while at Luther College and now studies in the MD program at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus. During medical school Thonn hopes to maintain an open mind and explore all medical specialties to decide which path within the field to pursue.

“I feel deeply honored to have been recognized with this scholarship. I recently got married and the Torrison Scholarship has been an enormous help to our financial situation,” said Thonn.

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

Anneleise Frie

Luther College announces recipients of annual Music Homecoming awards

Luther College is honored to present the Noble, Sperati, Presser and Hemp awards this 2019 Homecoming season.

Established in 2004, the Noble Award recognizes music educators who honor and continue Weston Noble’s legacy. This year that award goes to alumni Dr. John M. Broman ’69. After graduating from Luther, Dr. Broman went on to receive multiple music degrees from the University of Iowa, including a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance, a Master of Arts in choral conducting and a Doctor of Musical Arts in choral conducting.

“I am truly honored and humbled to receive the Weston H. Noble Award this year. Weston Noble whole-heartedly believed that music was a gift from God, inspiring all to sing from the heart,” says Dr. Broman. “He is the reason I changed careers to go into music and I will be forever grateful as a result.”

Dr. Broman previously taught at Dakota Wesleyan University and Loras College before arriving at the University of North Georgia in 1992. Since that time Dr. Broman has served as director of choral activities and has taught classes in conducting, choral methods, music appreciation, music history, diction and applied voice. In addition, he has received two Presidential Awards for Service, two service awards from the University’s Student Government Association, among other recognitions.

Timothy Arnold ‘04, is the 2019 recipient of the Dr. Carlo A. Sperati award. Arnold received his Master of Music degree in wind conducting from Ithaca College and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in music education from Boston University.

Carlo Sperati is credited with creating the Luther Concert Band, which he conducted for 38 years until his retirement in 1943. Presented annually to one outstanding music educator, the first Sperati award was presented in 1961 to Weston Noble.

“It is an incredible honor and thrill to receive the Sperati award! I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I have had to this point of my career and thankful to all of my mentors and students,” says Arnold.

Arnold currently teaches at Orono High School in Orono, Minnesota where he is the director of the wind ensemble, concert band, jazz ensemble, chamber winds, music listening team, band leadership team and co-director of the marching and pep bands. Under his direction, the Orono Wind Ensemble has performed twice at the Chicago Symphony Center at the Minnesota Music Educators State conference and made their debut at Carnegie Hall in April of this year.

Luther College senior, Jackson Churchill, of Duluth, Minnesota is the 2019 Presser Undergraduate Scholar Award recipient. Churchill will graduate from Luther in the spring of 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in music education and plans to attend graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in trombone performance.

“It is an honor to have my name appear alongside the hardworking, dedicated and talented Presser Award recipients from years past,” says Churchill.

The Presser Scholar Award was established in 1939 by the Presser Foundation in honor of Theodore Presser, the publisher of The Etude, a magazine dedicated to music, and founder of the music publishing firm bearing his name. The award, funded by a monetary gift from the Presser Foundation of Haverford, Pennsylvania is presented annually to a current Luther music major chosen by a music faculty vote by consideration of excellence and merit.

A member of the Pi Kappa Lambda honor society, Churchill has also served as a music theory tutor, music department student representative, Dorian Summer Music Camp counselor, summer research fellow and runner on Luther’s cross country and track teams for two seasons.

While at Luther, Churchill has served as principal trombonist and section leader in the Concert Band, Jazz Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra and Trombone Choir. He was recently honored to play with the Faculty Norse Brass Quintet for its 2019 fall recital and tour. This fall, Churchill will solo with Luther’s Symphony Orchestra as a Luther College Concerto Competition winner. Churchill has also played trombone in on- and off-campus worship services and in freelance ensembles. As a pianist, Churchill has planned and led campus ministry worship services while also accompanying student juries and seminars.

“I am grateful to my instructors at Luther who have guided and cared for me both in and out of the classroom or rehearsal space and I am indebted to the love I receive each day from my family and friends. While this award recognizes my hard work, it would not be possible without the opportunities and support provided by the Luther community,” says Churchill.

Luther College senior, Luke Berkley, of Owatonna, Minnesota is the 2019 recipient of the Hemp Family Prize. Berkley will graduate in the spring of 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in music and a management minor. He plans to attend graduate school in pursuit of a Master of Music degree to further his music performance career.

The Richard C. and Joann M. Hemp Family Prize for Orchestra Performance is given annually to a senior member of the Luther College Symphony Orchestra. The $6,000 scholarship is funded through an endowment established from Richard ’64 and Joann (Harr) Hemp ’65. Richard is a regent emeritus, former chair of the Luther Board of Regents and former Interim President of Luther College.

“I am thankful to be recognized with this award and I hope that it allows me to further my music career and promote Luther College in the future,” says Berkley.

Berkley has studied with Dr. Rebecca Boehm Shaffer for the past three years, and says he has grown immensely as a performer under her care. Since arriving at Luther, has been a member of the Chamber Orchestra, Norskkor (Norsemen), Transcendent Brass Quintet, QTC Horn Quartet, Concert Band and Symphony Orchestra. He has been a section leader in Concert Band for three years as well as principal horn of Symphony Orchestra for three years.

Luther is home to one of the largest collegiate music programs in the nation, with five choirs, three orchestras, three bands, two jazz bands and more than 800 student musicians. Luther students participate in large ensembles, faculty-coached chamber groups, private lessons and master classes. Nearly 275 music majors study music theory, ear training, history, education, composition, jazz, church music and performance.

Luke Berkley

Dr. John Broman

Jackson Churchill

Timothy Arnold

Luther College hosts DMC Design Thinking Workshop

From zero gravity athletic tape to holographic social aids, the ideas were flowing in Dahl Centennial Union at Luther College Thursday night when Destination Medical Center (DMC) and Mayo Clinic piloted their Design Thinking Workshop. With the intent of exposing people to design thinking, entrepreneurship and collaboration, representatives from Mayo Clinic fostered an environment of innovative thinking.

“DMC is really interested in curating an ecosystem of innovation. The idea behind targeting universities is getting at young people who are thinking about their careers and thinking about what their capabilities are and exposing them to entrepreneurship in a way that perhaps they would not have considered or didn’t realize they had passion or skills in,” said Tracee Vetting Wolf, Mayo Clinic service designer.

The focus of the workshop was on design thinking, a process for creative problem-solving using a human-centered approach. Luther students, faculty, staff and Decorah community members spent time thinking about how things could be for people with various disabilities, as opposed to thinking about how they currently are. Small groups came up with various ideas, took a close look at how disabilities impact people and the world around us and ultimately proposed new solutions to current problems.

Chris Schad, director of business development at Discovery Square, explained why they are taking their time to partner with universities to teach this skill.

“While we spend some of our time attracting companies in, we also want to grow our own and to do that, we have to teach entrepreneurship and how to develop products and services into the market,” said Schad.

Gabriel McKelvey is a sophomore at Luther. His group thought up an electrotherapy implant to help with back pain.

“Our solution was some sort of electrotherapy device that would either attack the source of the pain or where the pain is interpreted. We thought this would be a great alternative to chemicals which do the same thing but can be addictive,” said McKelvey.

So what’s next for these ideas? Facilitators suggest entering them into the 2020 Assistive Tech Challenge presented by Destination Medical Center’s Discovery Square.

“It’s a pitch competition that allows students and anyone else who wants to participate to push their ideas further. The winner gets money that is geared at helping them bring their ideas into the world,” said Vetting Wolf.

Both Vetting Wolf and Schad described their experience with the Luther and Decorah community as being a great experience. “The turnout was amazing, and everyone was engaged and it just made the whole thing fun,” said Vetting Wolf.

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 soccer teams raise money for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation

DECORAH, Iowa ­— The Luther College men’s and women’s soccer teams teamed up with the 2019 Soccer Vs. Cancer campaign to make a difference in the lives of those affected by pediatric brain tumors. On Saturday, Sept. 28, Luther hosted home games as the culmination of their fundraising event, during which they surpassed their fundraising goal of $5,000, raising $5,916 in total.

“Many of us have been impacted by cancer and this is an opportunity for our programs to give back to an organization that is working towards providing research and funding to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation,” said Garcia-Prats, head men’s soccer coach. “Thanks to all of the donors for your support and thank you to [Luther students] Steven Johnson ’21 and Lizzy Deprenger ’20 for organizing this effort.”

Soccer Vs. Cancer is a part of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s Vs. Cancer program which aims to support child life programs and national pediatric brain tumor research. The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation’s mission: “Care. Cure. Thrive.” is simple, yet powerful. Support provides care for families, fueling research to cure childhood brain tumors and helps survivors and families thrive.

“Each year our team looks at different organizations/community service opportunities to engage with. Hopefully this will provide a connection for our student-athletes in supporting others in need,” said Garcia-Prats.

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 announces Distinguished Service Award recipients

Luther College President Jenifer K. Ward is proud to announce the 2019 recipients of the Distinguished Service Award. The award is presented to alumni or individuals with strong connections to Luther College who have exhibited admirable service to society in areas such as education, government, the arts, business, church, labor, industry, agriculture, research, medicine and community affairs. This year’s recipients are Michael Anderson ’99, Karen Austad ’64, Steven Berry ’74, Jennifer Clark Nelson ’94, Richard Staff ’69, Carl Stecker ’79 and Carol Tomer ’79.

A Celebration of Distinguished Service will be held on Friday, Oct. 4, where the 2019 recipients will receive their awards.

Michael Anderson lives in North Liberty, Iowa, and is the clinical coordinator and clinical assistant professor at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. Anderson has worked to raise awareness and funds for research and treatment of leukemia and lymphoma. In 2015 Anderson won Man of the Year from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Eastern Iowa by raising just under $140,000 in 10 weeks for the society. In 2018 Anderson was recognized by the University of Iowa College of Nursing twice as the recipient of the Daisy Faculty Award and 100 Great Iowa Nurses designation.

Karen Austad was nominated based on her lifelong service to children. Austad lives in Ontario, Wis., and is a retired teacher and library media specialist. During her career, she implemented innovative teaching and library methods. Crestwood Elementary School, where Austad worked from 1964 to 2000, was named a “School of Excellence” by the U.S. Department of Education in 1993. Austad continues to volunteer and implement programs at the local library and elementary school. She created an endowment at the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton elementary school to permanently provide funds to help feed kids in need.

Steven Berry lives in Des Moines, Iowa. He owned a private practice for chest and infectious diseases for 35 years until his retirement in 2018. From 1993 to 2005 Berry served on the Luther College Board of Regents. Berry was also a contributing author for the book “Outside In: African American History in Iowa, 1838-2000,” published in 2001.

Jennifer Clark Nelson lives in Woodinville, Wash., and is the director and senior investigator of biostatistics at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. Her research on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and drugs earned her the 2009 VSD Margarette Kolczak Award for outstanding biostatistical contributions in the field of vaccine safety. In 2013, Nelson wrote a paper that was selected among the Articles of the Year by the American Journal of Epidemiology and the Society for Epidemiologic Research.

Richard Staff is a retired client services coordinator and registered nurse/social worker. He currently lives in Pigeon Falls, Wis., and works as a music department teaching assistant for Whitehall Memorial High School. Staff was a great support to students at his school and provided scholarships for students from his area to attend Dorian Summer Music Camps at Luther College. Staff won the Wisconsin Music Education Conference Community Service Award in 1981 and the Humanitarian Award from Ashley for the Arts in 2018.

Carl Stecker currently lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., and serves as the senior technical advisor for HIV and interim program director for the Faith-Based Organization Capacity Strengthening for Universal HIV Services (FOCUS), Global Health and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Stecker researches HIV screening for children in Zambia and Uganda and previously worked to educate people in Cameroon to improve health care. Stecker will be giving the Ironside Distinguished Alumni Lecture in Nursing at 11 a.m., Oct. 5, in the Jenson-Noble Hall of Music Recital Hall. The lecture is titled “Oh the Places You’ll Go! The Mission and Life of a Global Migrant.”

Carol Tomer received her Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University in 1987 and currently serves as the lead pastor for Pilgrim Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minn. Tomer has also co-created and led evening contemplative services (Celtic and Nordic) at Pilgrim Lutheran Church since 2002 to help reach out to those who have felt exiled from the Christian community. She has served in leadership in the wider church and community in campus ministry, care of creation, building an inclusive church and worship innovation.

Nominations for Distinguished Service Awards may be made by sending a letter to the Office of the President, Luther College, 700 College Drive, Decorah, Iowa 52101, or by email to Sally Ming 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

“The CHOICE butik” – Soft-Opening on October 3rd, 2019

CHOICE Employment Services will be doing a soft opening of “The CHOICE butik” on October 3rd, 2019 from 11:00am to 5:00pm. Regular hours will be Thursday and Friday 11:00am to 5:00pm and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm. The butik will be located at 1014 South Mill St. Suite #9 in Decorah, Iowa.


The butik will carry items such as clothing (including plus-sized), jewelry, candles and other unique items!

We are committed to an inclusive environment with the goal of maintaining a diverse staff that includes 50% of our staff being people with disabilities.

Sept 13 Deadline for Kickoff Kids Program

This program for ages 5 to 6 meets at the Will Baker Athletic Fields on Saturday mornings, September 21 thru October 12.  Participants will jump, run, grow and have fun as they play games and learn some basic skills. Each week includes different tag games, sports skills, and fun agility exercises to keep kids moving and engaged.  Two time slots to choose from:  9:15-10:00 am OR 10:15-11:00 am (20 maximum per time slot).  Registration Fee:  $20.  Register online or at the Decorah Park-Rec. Office by September 13. 


Register Now for Fall Session of Curious Kids at Decorah Public Library!

This fall, Decorah Public Library will offer a new session of its popular afterschool program, Curious Kids.

The new session will run from Sept. 18th through October 16th. Children in first through fourth grade are invited to join us in the Public Program Room of the library on Wednesday afternoons from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. for hands-on STEAM-based projects. Come build bugs, robots, balloon-powered cars, and more!

Curious Kids is designed to stimulate creative exploration and problem solving through fun, easy projects. It is guaranteed to spark a child’s interest in science, design, engineering, and art!

This program is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by Friends of Decorah Public Library and is limited to 24 children.

Registration is required by Friday, September 13, 2019 at A walking  school bus will be available to the library from John Cline.

Questions about Curious Kids can be directed to Joan Roach, Children’s and Young Adult Librarian, at 563-382-3717 or

Welcome Friends and Neighbors Picnic, Sunday, September 15

SUNDAY, September 15 is the 10th Annual Welcome Friends and Neighbors Picnic from 5:00-6:30 p.m. in Good Shepherd’s front yard, due to construction in the backyard. Invite your friends and neighbors to enjoy good local food, a marshmallow roast, games for kids, live music by local musicians, including the Good Shepherd Band and Matt and Siri Steven, and of course great conversation! The picnic is free and open to all. In the event of a heavy rain, the picnic will be in the Fellowship Hall.

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