Class of 1971 Fall 2019 Letter

Fall 2109

Dear Class of 1971 Alumni,

It promises to be an exciting year for Luther. In November, the college inaugurated its eleventh president, Dr. Jenifer K. Ward. President Ward joins the Luther community with more than three decades of experience as an educator, scholar, and academic leader after serving, most recently, as provost and dean of the college at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. Prior to joining Centenary, President Ward served in several leadership roles at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington, including dean of the college, interim provost, and associate provost. She was also a faculty member at Gustavus Adolphus College, where she taught German.          

In a message to the Luther community, President Ward said, “Our work together must be strategic, collaborative, creative, and—most importantly—must articulate what it means to be both grounded in Decorah, Iowa with a face to the world, and set goals for how we can adapt Luther’s past and present for a sustainable future.”

A self-described extrovert and lover of art, film, and literature, President Ward started her duties at Luther July 1, and her official inauguration took place November 1–3.

Learn more about President Ward—including her thoughts on food, art, Twitter, Decorah, and higher ed—on Luther’s YouTube channel (, then search “Luther College President Ward”) or in the fall issue of the Luther Magazine:

Also, while you’re at it, use this checklist to up your Luther social media game:

❏     Follow Luther College on Twitter: @LutherCollege

❏     Follow Luther College on Instagram: @LutherCollege

❏     Follow the Luther College Alumni Facebook page:

And, finally, keep in mind that Christmas at Luther takes place December 5–8. This year’s theme is Whom Angels Greet with Anthems Sweet. Luther would be happy to see you there!

Mariah (Bringer) Smith ’95
Director of Development, Current Gifts
Luther College
700 College Dr.
Decorah, IA. 52101
[email protected]

P.S. Your class is currently without a class agent!! Is anyone out there interested in taking the reins? Or even a couple of you? Many classes have two to four class agents who take turns writing the class agent letters (two per year). If this sounds like something you may be interested in learning more about, please contact Mariah Smith at [email protected], or 563-387-1096.


Lee Afdahl of Pine Island, Minn., is retired after nearly 50 years of church music ministry.

Kate (Stadler) Haugen of Minneapolis retired from her position as associate vice president for student affairs at North Dakota State University.

Gary Knutson of Chatham, Ill., retired from Guardian Building Products.

Becky (Linnevold) Shaw was named a 2019 Women of Influence Honoree by Business Record. Shaw joined Des Moines University six years ago after serving as an OB/GYN physician in private practice for 26 years. In 2004, she was named medical director of Iowa Health-Des Moines Midwifery Services, a position she held for nearly 10 years. Over the past six years, she has led students on four global medical service trips to third-world countries. Shaw also serves on the Des Moines Symphony board. She has been recognized with numerous awards, including Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser from the Association of Fundraising Professionals; the Phi Beta Kappa Alumnus Award from Luther College; the Alpha Omega Alpha Alumnus Award from the University of Iowa College of Medicine; and the Women of Vision Award from the Young Women’s Resource Center.


Jim McCaffrey of Decorah died Aug. 1, 2019, age 67.

The full obituary of the classmate listed above can be found on the Luther College website at:

If you would like a printout of the obituary listed above in its entirety mailed to you, please contact us at: [email protected], or 563-387-1509.