More than 450 students at Augsburg College, Minneapolis, participated in City Service Day this year, an opportunity to go off campus to complete service projects in city neighborhoods. First-year students annually provide nonprofits and organizations with more than $25,000 worth of volunteer work during the event, held on their first day of class as “Auggies.”

Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill., this year revised its “Five Faith Commitments,” a statement that seeks to define what it means to be a college related to the ELCA. The revisions were made on the 10-year anniversary of the college’s adoption of the document in 2005. The statement places a renewed emphasis on interfaith engagement, which the college has focused on in recent years. As an example of this focus, the college’s international club hosted a celebration of Holi, a Hindu festival of colors.

Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis., opened its new science center in September. The facility features an outdoor classroom and 12 labs, and gathering spaces for students and faculty to collaborate. The $43 million project included a major renovation of the 70,000-square-foot David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Natural and Social Sciences and a new 35,000-square-foot wing that embraces the college’s location on the Lake Michigan shore. In the past decade, the percentage of Carthage graduates who have a degree in a natural science has doubled, along with the percentage of incoming students interested in those majors.

The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago master’s level public church curriculum was recently named as one of the 24 “most innovative and out-of-the-box programs in theological education in North America” by Convergence U.S. Launched in fall 2014, the curriculum develops competencies for leadership in a public church that focus on community engagement, public witness and social transformation. At the Convergence U.S. Reimagining Theological Education Summit Oct. 9–11 in Chicago, Esther Menn, academic dean, and faculty members Ray Pickett, Linda Thomas and Jan Rippentrop delivered a TED-style talk about the school’s new curriculum.

Summer in Decorah, Iowa, is more than bike rides and Nordic Fest. It’s an ideal time for Luther College students and faculty to collaborate on undergraduate research projects. Brooke Joyce, associate professor of music at Luther, worked with Pablo Gómez-Estévez, Class of 2017, who composed a piano suite based on a children’s book he wrote. The research culminated in an illustrated book with a music CD. “It’s never too early to begin thinking of yourself as a professional, undertaking ambitious work that could have a major impact on the world,” Joyce said. See project summaries and videos at

In June, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, received $2.32 million from the estate of an alumna’s parents to advance programs in three fields that were important to the family: ministry, science and education. Darlene and Wilbert Carlson, who died in 2013 and 2014 at the ages of 84 and 85, respectively, left $1.4 million to establish an endowed chair in youth and family ministry, $584,700 toward the construction of a new science building, $300,000 for a summer research program in chemistry and $40,000 for an endowed scholarship for aspiring teachers.

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton received an honorary doctor of humanities degree and sent off 238 graduates this May at Thiel College, Greenville, Pa. Her address “Religion vs. Reason?” made the case to the more than 2,000 attendees that religion and science aren’t mutually exclusive. Eaton encouraged students to “make the world a better place” and to spend their “lives lavishly in service to [their] neighbor.”

For the third consecutive year, Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, was listed with distinction on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. More than 850 students engaged in community service, logging nearly 34,000 volunteer hours during the 2014-15 academic year. The university made the Honor Roll with Distinction for Economic Opportunity, as well as for General Community Service. Special projects earned TLU recognition, including adapted physical education, computer classes and early childhood literacy programs.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics recognized 13 teams at Midland University, Fremont, Neb., as Scholar-Teams during the 2014-15 academic year. For a team to be considered for the award, it must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale). The teams included were: baseball (3.02 GPA), men’s basketball (3.15), women’s basketball (3.40), men’s cross country (3.15), men’s golf (3.45), softball (3.51), volleyball (3.62), women’s cross country (3.21), women’s golf (3.20), women’s indoor track and field (3.14), women’s outdoor track and field (3.14), women’s soccer (3.24) and women’s tennis (3.74).

Joy Schroeder, professor of church history at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio, is the editor and translator of The Book of Genesis (September 2015) for the Eerdmans commentary series “The Bible in Medieval Tradition.” The commentary covers the entire book of Genesis and includes an in-depth introduction by Schroeder that locates each of the medieval authors — including Hildegard of Bingen, Nicholas of Lyra and Denis the Carthusian — within his or her context. Schroeder is also the Bergener Professor of Theology and Religion at Capital University, Columbus, Ohio.

Shauna Hannan, associate professor of homiletics (preaching) at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., was named last spring as a Thrivent Fellow. During the 2015-16 academic year she is engaging in a 12-month executive fellowship. Sponsored by the ELCA, the Lutheran Educational Conference of North America, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and the Concordia University System of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, the purpose of the program is to identify and equip high capacity leaders for leadership roles in Lutheran colleges and universities.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation named Zahava Urecki, a senior at Roanoke College, Salem, Va., a 2015 Truman Scholar. Urecki is the first Roanoke student to receive the award. “The Truman Foundation awards these to students they view as having the potential to be change agents in the world,” said Jennifer Rosti, director of major scholarships and fellowships at Roanoke. “And Zahava exemplifies that mission.” Urecki is a political science major from Charleston, W.Va.

At 691, the fall 2015 incoming class at Susquehanna University, Selins-grove, Pa., is the school’s largest and most diverse. Enrolled students were selected from a record-breaking application pool as reflected in applicants’ SAT scores and high school grades. The Class of 2019 hails from 19 states and from China, Saudi Arabia, India, Japan, Switzerland, Germany and Macao. Also 22 percent of the incoming class comes from historically underrepresented groups, compared with 16.7 percent for 2014-15.

Students at Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kan., were welcomed back this fall with a new 240-bed residence hall that features private bedrooms, community spaces and two classrooms. The rooms are configured in suites that range from one to four people, and three large suites that include two six-person suites and one 10-person suite. The hall was built to accommodate the increased enrollment trend Bethany has experienced over the past seven years. Enrollment has shown steady growth from 537 students in 2007 to last fall’s 717. Last year students were housed in motels due to a lack ofon-campus housing.

Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, broke ground this summer on a Convergent Media Center, a space where traditionally separate yet related degree programs and disciplines will converge to form an active learning hub where ideas and imagination meet creation and communication. The 34,430-square-foot structure will support current and emerging degree programs that embody technical arts and convergent media, and that will flourish in an interdisciplinary, creative and collaborative environment. Demolition and construction began June 15, with a projected completion date of August 2016.

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (Pa.) “is pioneering the integration of insights and new developments from science into the theological curriculum,” said Kristin Johnston Largen, interim dean. “This work will help dispel the idea that Christianity is opposed to science, and further the conviction that scientific research and discovery provide tools for increased knowledge and awareness of how God is at work in the larger cosmos and also in human life in particular.” Gettysburg received one of 10 grants from the American Association for the Advancement of Science to pilot integrating science and faith.

As Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory, N.C., celebrates its 125th anniversary, it will reflect on the career of its president, Wayne B. Powell, who this September announced his retirement at the close of the academic year. Powell became the school’s 11th president in December 2002. Since that time, the university has undergone bold initiatives, unprecedented growth and financial successes that have defined its administration. “It has truly been an honor and privilege to serve an institution of this caliber and to watch the university grow and serve so many people,” Powell said.

Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., received a $1.2 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to fund a three-year project called Science for Youth Ministry: The Plausibility of Transcendence. The project will start faith-and-science conversations with young people through youth ministry and will produce materials to encourage those discussions. Part of the project will include a pilgrimage to Europe with selected teenagers to explore some of the sites that represent the history of conflict between science and the church.

It’s not every day a king comes to call, but on May 23, Harald V of Norway visited Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash., in honor of the school’s 125th anniversary. The king toured the campus, met with students and faculty at a reception, and attended a luncheon in his honor. He then delivered a touching — and humorous — address at PLU’s 2015 commencement ceremony and received an honorary degree.

Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, honored 46 degree and certificate candidates at commencement exercises in May. Stanley N. Olson, then president of Wartburg, said of the students being honored, “We on the faculty and staff have the privilege of watching God renew the church by calling women and men into servant leadership, forming them and sending them into the church for the world.”

Augustana University, Sioux Falls, S.D., is among the recipients of a $14.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support undergraduate research and faculty scholarship in the biomedical sciences. The school will receive nearly $2 million over the next five years as part of the grant, provided through the NIH’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA), a program designed to foster health-related research by providing financial assistance to 23 underfunded states and Puerto Rico though April 2020. The grant will provide opportunities for 17 Augustana students annually to perform cutting-edge research during the summer.

For the second straight year, Finlandia University, Hancock, Mich., welcomed a bigger incoming group of students than the previous year — a jump of 25 percent. At 287, this year’s incoming class is the second largest in the school’s history. “Our campus is buzzing with activity right now,” said Lenny Klaver, vice president for institutional advancement. “We’re honored that these students are choosing Finlandia University for their education, and we cannot wait to see what they accomplish while here.” Overall enrollment at the school is up nearly 9 percent to a total of 536.

Grand View University, Des Moines, Iowa, has a new 67,500-square-foot student center. A combination of new and renovated spaces, the center houses student support functions, student services, engagement and entertainment, performing arts and communication programs, as well as the dining center, which seats 320, more than doubling the previous space. Approximately $10 million was donated to support the project, which is the culmination of a 15-year campus master plan that has seen nearly $60 million in capital expansion.

Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament and Jewish studies at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn., was scheduled to offer a seminar Oct. 30 at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, S.C. In her community lecture, Levine will discuss how misunderstandings of Judaism have led to Christian teachings that create or reinforce anti-Jewish views. Levine is author of The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus (HarperOne, 2007).

A community theater group created and supported by Wagner College, Staten Island, N.Y., wrote and staged a “documentary theater” production this summer that was characterized by the local newspaper as a “moving meditation on race.” It debuted on the anniversary of the death of Eric Garner, a resident who died while in police custody and was featured in the news over the last year.

In response to recent culture shifts in communication, Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, is now airing nearly all its chapel worship services online through Knight Vision, the college’s live-streaming video network. Brian Beckstrom, campus pastor, and a team of students also have increased the visibility of campus ministry at Wartburg through social media and blog posts. “Our goal is to engage people spiritually online even if they can’t be at worship,” Beckstrom said.

K. Brewer Doran was named dean of the Offutt School of Business at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. Previously she was dean of the Bertolon School of Business at Salem (Mass.) State University, where she improved student outcomes, built relationships with the business community and raised funds for the school.

In Gettysburg, Pa., a small town so interwoven with the American story, there are plenty of sites to see — from Little Round Top to Devil’s Den, and the Eternal Light Peace Memorial to Pennsylvania Hall. But you’ll also find a strong cultural center — Gettysburg College’s Majestic Theater. Now in its 90th year of operation, the theater continues to offer a series of professional touring artists, daily films and contributions to the local economy. For more information about performances and upcoming anniversary celebrations, visit

A $25 million gift, the largest single contribution in the history of Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., will serve as the cornerstone of the $65 million complete renovation and 50 percent expansion planned for the Alfred Nobel Hall of Science. The project will provide the facilities necessary to prepare students for successful careers in the physical sciences and health careers in the 21st century. The family making this gift — longtime Gustavus supporters — wishes to remain anonymous. “This generous donor is a family of five Gusties that recognizes the role that sciences play at Gustavus and the critically important role of physical space in facilitating great teaching, learning and research,” said Gustavus President Rebecca Bergman.

Three women from St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., received recognition during the 2015-16 school year for their expertise in science. Serina Robinson, Class of 2015, received a three-year graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation, an honor she’s deferred as she uses a Fulbright award to conduct research in Norway. Megan Behnke, Class of 2016, received the American Geophysical Union’s Lumley award and Goldwater Scholarship. Beret Amundson, Class of 2015, had her clinical research published in a medical journal, and she’ll use a Fulbright award to continue research in Brazil.

Funded by an estate gift from John D. Muller, Newberry (S.C.) College’s newest building, the Muller Center, was opened for students in September. A faithful Lutheran, Muller designated his donation “to support students pursuing ministry to church and world.” The center is a space for students to engage in volunteerism, leadership development, vocational reflection and community-based inquiry.

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