Luther Alumni Magazine

Homecoming 2015 awards

DSA recipients, left to right: President Paula Carlson, Ann (Christensen) Beatty ’75, Mary Townswick ’75, Shannon (Miller) Duval ’95, Karen (Wilken) Braun ’85, Mark Magnuson ’75, Mary (Christianson) Hansen ’80
DSA recipients, left to right: President Paula Carlson, Ann (Christensen) Beatty ’75, Mary Townswick ’75, Shannon (Miller) Duval ’95, Karen (Wilken) Braun ’85, Mark Magnuson ’75, Mary (Christianson) Hansen ’80

Distinguished Service Awards,      Music Awards,      Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees

President Paula J. Carlson presented the Luther Distinguished Service Award to six alumni at Homecoming 2015. The award recognizes success and achievements in professional fields, service to society, contributions to community, and loyalty and service to Luther.

Ann (Christensen) Beatty ’75

Advancement consultant (special events) for community and regional nonprofit organizations in Rochester, Minn.


“[Ann’s] leadership in shaping fundraising strategies for numerous nonprofit organizations has been vital to both the current as well as future health of such organizations as Madonna Living Community, Rochester Catholic Schools, and the ELCA’s Good Earth Village retreat center. Receiving from the city of Rochester the Mayor’s Medal of Honor for Artistic and Culture Achievement is a testament to how Ann’s community interaction has added depth and breadth to that city’s cultural landscape.
“So too has her vitality and generosity been felt on numerous boards, from the public schools to Lutheran Social Service, from Rotary to the Arts Administrators Round Table. Ann is a kind of musical magpie who says yes with enthusiasm, always willing to serve by bringing her many gifts to fully play the keys of metaphorical as well as actual pianos whenever asked and wherever needed.” —Robert Larson, professor emeritus of theatre

Karen (Wilken) Braun ’85

Professor and director, Undergraduate Accounting Program, Department of Accountancy, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio


“[Karen’s] popular Managerial Accounting textbook, now in the fourth edition, incorporates the triple bottom line: a measure of profit, social responsibility, and environmental responsibility. The sustainability emphasis teaches students that business can be profitable and green at the same time. Wendy Tietz, the textbook coauthor, sees the inclusion of the sustainability themes in the book as a reflection of Karen’s commitment to a sustainable lifestyle. Karen credits her parents with instilling within her a love of nature and a desire to protect it.

“Karen is a recognized leader in the American Accounting Association’s teaching, learning, and curriculum section. Participation in the national organization unites her with fellow accounting educators who share similar goals of effective and innovative teaching.” —Ramona (Feller) Nelson ’75, professor of accounting and management

Shannon (Miller) Duval ’95

President, Mercy Foundation, Mercy Medical Center, Des Moines, Iowa


“The University of Iowa, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and St. Luke’s Health Care Foundation are all the beneficiaries of her considerable energy, enthusiasm, and care in her development work. For the past five years, she has served as president of the Mercy Foundation in Des Moines, leading their comprehensive fundraising efforts for a large network of health care organizations within the foundation’s circle of care. (And, I must add, increasing their productivity from $4.4 million to $15 million annually.) . . .

“Those of us at Luther who worked closely with Shannon . . . were pleased to hear that she was named to the 2012 group of ‘40 under 40’ leaders in the state of Iowa, not only because of her success in the work world, but also her ability to share her time and talent with organizations in need.” —Ann Highum, vice president and dean for student life emerita

Mary (Christianson) Hansen ’80

Chief executive officer/president Mayo Employees Federal Credit Union, Rochester, Minn.


“Luther’s accounting program prepared Mary to pursue a successful career with financial institutions. She quickly discovered her passion for helping people—providing resources and financial education to families. For over 20 years, Mary has held a wide range of community leadership roles in her schools, churches, and girl and boy scouting, and she serves as a board member for three charitable organizations. In 2014 she received a Top Women in Finance Award for the state of Minnesota for her noteworthy contribution to her profession, community, and society at large.

“As a board director and secretary for Brighter Tomorrows Inc., a nonprofit organization formed to support families of children diagnosed with cancer, Mary donates over 400 hours a year to raise funds and provide organizational direction. If you ask Mary which accomplishment makes her most proud, she . . . cites her family as her favorite coconspirators in community work. . . . Last June, Mary cochaired Brighter Tomorrows’ largest annual fundraiser, where her family raised 13 percent of the event’s total proceeds.” —Alexandra White, assistant professor of management

Mark Maguson ’75

Professor of cell and developmental biology, Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Nashville, Tenn.


“Mark is one of those rare individuals able to think productively about the whole forest, not just individual trees. As a medical endocrinologist he saw and treated patients with diabetes. His research taught him what was known about the disease as well as what was unknown. His intuition and thinking has enabled him to envision the most important questions to be explored in order to achieve understanding, and to envision the tools that would be needed to research the answers to those questions as well as the procedures by which to develop the tools. Mark has been able also to envision the required level of collective effort needed to fight this disease. Mark and his own research group at Vanderbilt—where he has been for 30 years—have made extensive findings in each of these areas. . . . Even more importantly, he was key in launching the Beta Cell Biology Consortium of nearly 200 research groups scattered across the United States and Europe, and he has provided the primary leadership in developing the roadmap by which the research groups within this consortium work cooperatively in a common direction in this broad area of medical research.” —Dale Nimrod, professor emeritus of chemistry

Mary Townswick ’75

Environmental counselor, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassy to Brazil, Brasília


“As the tragic events in Benghazi, Libya, have recently shown again, working abroad for the United States government can be very dangerous. Mary has experienced this firsthand when trapped for 11 days in the U.S. Embassy in Cote d’ Ivoire during a civil war following failed elections she was monitoring. She and her colleagues survived on MREs (meals ready to eat) before being rescued by French troops. In Iraq, while helping to open the new embassy that came under frequent attack, or in Herat, Afghanistan, where the consulate was leveled by a bomb blast just a week after she had stayed there, Mary faced frequent danger.

“Mary admits that the adrenaline rush of working in dangerous places has kept her interested in the profession. Working closely with the U.S. military in Iraq, she became sufficiently engrossed in military operations so that in 2012 she earned a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Army War College. . . . [The Luther German major] has also managed to acquire knowledge in four more languages—French, Urdu, Dari and, most recently, Portuguese. She has also taken courses that involve less talking and more doing, such as specialized training in firing weapons, emergency medical treatment procedures, and (her favorite!) driving a vehicle through barricades to avoid capture. Lifelong learning—Mary has certainly continued to excel at it!” —Uwe Rudolf, professor emeritus of accounting and management

Weston Noble Award

The Weston Noble Award is given to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the choral arts.

Roger Henderson ’82

High school vocal music teacher in Grinnell, Iowa

Roger Henderson '82
Roger Henderson '82



“Early in Roger’s career it became apparent that he was not to be the typical high school music teacher that only prepared students for performances. As stated in his accepted application essay to the biennial Yale Symposium of Distinguished Music Educators, his ultimate goal as a teacher is to create ‘classroom, rehearsal and performance experiences in which students make personal, curricular, and cross-curricular connections with and through music to ensure a deep understanding of the potential transcendent power of the arts.’ He further states, ‘Music teaching in performance classes must go beyond the learning of the notes and merely making pieces performance-ready. Affective music experiences must be intentionally and effectively designed.’ ” —Allen Hightower, director of choral activities and professor of music

Presser Scholarship

The Theodore Presser Foundation provides a generous scholarship for an extraordinary senior music major each year.

Shayla De Jong ’16
Shayla De Jong '16
Shayla De Jong '16



“With encouragement from her great-aunt Iris, a church organist, Shayla began studying organ with Iris’s daughter, Kris De Wild, with whom she also studied piano throughout high school. She quickly became intrigued with the organ. As a young organist, Shayla was invited to perform on concerts sponsored by the Central Iowa Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and Pella Tulip Time Concerts, and she gave a solo recital as a senior in high school. She has served as organist at Peoria Christian Reformed Church, Ridgeway Lutheran Parish, and currently at First United Methodist Church in Decorah.

“At Luther Shayla has been a member of Aurora, Cathedral Choir, and Collegiate Choral. She is in demand as a collaborative pianist for student recitals and ensemble performances, having been a finalist for the Distinction in Accompanying Award. She is also a frequent organist for chapel. She participated in the January Term course “Choral Singing in Namibia and South Africa” in 2014. She is majoring in music with organ as her primary instrument and completing a German minor.” —Gregory Peterson, associate professor of music
and college organist

Sperati Award


In the spirit of Carlo A. Sperati, conductor of the Luther Concert Band from 1905 to 1943, Luther annually honors a graduate who has had a distinguished career as a music educator.

Curtis Reiso ’54

Coordinator of music activities emeritus

Curtis Reiso
Curtis Reiso



“[Curt’s] benevolence will for years to come continue to be a generous addition to the student experience at his alma mater. Although Curt was not a music major during his student years, his association with the music department and the touring organizations representing Luther will be remembered as one of the major contributions to the lives of thousands of students.

“Following his graduation, he became a member of the Admissions staff. His time at Luther was interrupted by a couple of years in the U. S. Army, 1955–57. . . . He then returned to the college as a member of the Development staff. . . . During these years, he also functioned as coordinator of the tours for the, at that time, three major touring ensembles. He remembers that he conducted 86 domestic tours, 14 European tours, and 2 trips to Hawaii. . . . So many young people of the years responded to that booming baritone voice, Time to get on the road!—Joan deAlbuquerque, director of bands and associate professor of music

Hemp Family Prize

Daniel Ray '16
Daniel Ray '16


The Richard C. and Joann M. Hemp Family Prize for Orchestral Performance is awarded to a Symphony Orchestra senior for exceptional performance, talent, musicianship, and leadership.



“As a double major in music performance and philosophy, Dan divides his time between practicing sublime, even transcendent violin concertos and reading very difficult, very deep, ceaselessly interesting, occasionally impenetrable books. In addition to the Hemp Prize, Dan is (for the second consecutive year) the recipient of the Dorothy M. Ansett principal second violin chair in Symphony Orchestra. In the spring of 2015 Dan was a finalist in the biennial Luther College Department of Music concerto competition. When he is not playing the violin or studying, you will probably find Dan Ray immersed in discussions of philosophy with friends or reflecting on what he should do with his life.” —Daniel Baldwin, professor of music

Hall of Fame inductees, left to right: Mike Carney ’85, Erika Schmitt ’95, Paul Bunnell Jr. ’89, Alan Read ’90, Garrett South ’05, Katie (Pettigrew) Weems ’05
Hall of Fame inductees, left to right: Mike Carney ’85, Erika Schmitt ’95, Paul Bunnell Jr. ’89, Alan Read ’90, Garrett South ’05, Katie (Pettigrew) Weems ’05

Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees

Garrett South ’05

Business analyst, John Deere Ag Marketing Center, Olathe, Kan.


“When entering Luther College in the fall of 2001, Garrett was a decorated Iowa High School student athlete. He had won the 2001 Iowa High School State Wrestling Championship at 160 lbs. with a major decision in the finals, he had a 32 ACT, a 4.0 cumulative GPA, and was valedictorian of his graduating class. Garrett was a star! . . .

“Everything about Garrett’s style was a bit unorthodox and, at the same time, magnificently beautiful. From his prematch routines, where he looked like he had just woken up, to his left-handed handshake to start the match, to his hand clapping and mat slapping as a setup to his attacks during the match, Garrett used his intelligence to get into the head of his opponents. . . .

“Garrett’s accomplishments in the classroom and on the mat earned him an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and IIAC Male Scholar Athlete of the Year honors. He was the first Luther wrestler to earn each of those honors. He also was inducted into the NCAA Division III National Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame. . . . He has the [Luther]record for most career pins at 58, and he also holds the unofficial record for the most cafeteria cinnamon rolls eaten in one setting at 13!” —David Mitchell, head wrestling coach

Katie (Pettigrew) Weems ’05

Physical therapist, focus on sports and orthopedics, Carrie Tingley Hospital, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque


“It’s easy to understand why many of us at Luther were excited when she chose to enroll in the fall of 2001. As [then women’s soccer coach Doug] Mello describes it, ‘It didn’t take long for me to notice she had a knack for scoring goals. Why not give her a run at forward? One hundred twenty-four goals and 297 total points later, needless to say, she exceeded all expectations. . . . She was a tireless worker on the pitch who could play through injuries.’ . . .

“Katie demonstrated that same toughness and resiliency as a track and field performer. Considering the physical demand of the triple jump event, her four years of excellence is almost other-worldly—three-time IIAC indoor champion, three-time IIAC outdoor champion, four-time NCAA indoor championships qualifier (top 24 in the nation), four-time NCAA outdoor championships qualifier, two-time NCAA All-American indoors (placing seventh in 2003 and eighth in 2004), three-time NCAA All-American outdoors (eighth place in 2002, eighth place in 2004, and third place in 2005, in her final competition as a college athlete). However, Katie did much more than triple jump—her name still appears on our top 10 performance lists in eight different events!” —Jeff Wettach ’79, head track and field coach

Erika Schmitt ’95

Stay-at-home mom, Winnetka, Ill.


“During her four years, Erika’s determination, dedication, and leadership by performance on and off the tennis courts helped her extremely motivated team achieve many of its goals. . . .

“Erika won four Iowa Conference singles titles (no. 5, 4, 3, and 3). Only five conference players have done this, all of whom are in the Luther Hall of Fame. Erika added three conference doubles titles at no. 3, 1, and 2 with longtime partner Sara (Anderson) Doherty ’95, and the Luther teams won four consecutive IIAC team titles. In 1992 and again in 1993, Erika and Sara won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Midwest Regional Doubles Tournaments and advanced to the ITA National Tournaments. Finishing in eighth place in 1992, Erika and Sara improved to sixth place in the 1993 ITA Nationals. In the spring of 1994, with her outstanding singles record of 24-6, Erika helped the Luther team make its first return to the NCAA National Championships since 1986. . . . She finished her career with a 69 percent winning average in both singles (78-35) and doubles (83-37). . . .

“Erika received the prestigious 1995 Prince ITA All-American Scholar Athlete Award for her academic and tennis prowess. Only one scholarship is awarded each year to a female and a male player in Division III.” —Susan Oertel ’72, women’s tennis coach (1975–2006)

Paul Bunnell Jr. ’89

Journeyman wireman with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 13, Montrose, Iowa


“What makes Paul’s story unique is that he did not exactly fit the traditional profile of incoming Luther student athletes. In fact, he was a football player through junior high and did not run [cross country] until his junior year of high school. However, his ascent was rapid, as he was crowned the class 2A individual state champion in cross country as a high school senior in 1984. . . .

“Coach Finanger described it this way: ‘As a freshman, Paul challenged the upperclass runners all season for that final spot on the team that won the NCAA National Championship. That year was special, and Paul was critical to our win!’

“He would go on to run in two more NCAA cross country championships, on teams that placed 5th in 1987 and 13th in ’88. His individual highlight came in ’88 as he won the individual title at the NCAA central region meet, leading the Norse to their national meet qualification.” —Jeff Wettach ’79, head track and field coach

Alan Read ’90

Health and wellness instructor, Vernon Middle School, Marion (Iowa) Independent School District


“On the gridiron Al was a fierce and driven competitor with instinctive skills for finding the ball. He earned all-conference honors as a linebacker twice, in 1988 and ’89, and at the time of his graduation he held the tackling record with 282; currently he ranks fifth overall, while recording 7.5 sacks. He also made nine interceptions over his career, with 189 return yards, including two for touchdowns. Defensive schemes and coverages have changed significantly since the 1980s, but athletes with Al’s versatility to pursue laterally, play in the defensive line, blitz, and cover the flat in pass coverage are widely sought after at any competitive level. If you were carrying the ball, throwing it, or receiving it, Al was likely to run into you. . . . Additionally, the defenses he played on were honored with the fewest points allowed in a season, 89 in 1986, and the fewest yards allowed in a game, 12 in 1987.” —Brian Solberg ’88, director of athletic training

Mike Carney ’85

Director, commercial real estate, Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, Iowa


“In cross country, Mike was a three-time all-conference performer, placing eighth, third, and second in IIAC conference meets. Highlighting Mike’s senior year in cross country was the team’s fifth-place finish at the NCAA Division III National Meet in Delaware, Ohio. 
On the track, Mike earned all-conference honors six times, three each in the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter runs. As a senior, he qualified for the NCAA Division III National Meet in Granville, Ohio, in the 5,000-meters. His 1985 PR of 14:41.64 in the 5K still ranks as second best in school history.

“While Mike was respected for his talent, he was also recognized for his leadership, being elected a team captain three times, twice in cross country and once in track. During his four years at Luther, Mike and his teammates had a stranglehold on conference championships, winning four Iowa Conference titles in track and three in cross country. . . .

“Most runners hang up their racing shoes when collegiate eligibility is completed, but Mike’s college career was only a warm-up for a plethora of outstanding performances to come. In the late ’80s, he was widely recognized as not only the top distance runner in Iowa, but one of the best in the nation. Sponsored by the Reebok Racing Team, Mike captured titles at prestigious competitions all over the country. . . . He took top honors in the Governor’s Cup 10K for four consecutive years, from 1988 to 1991. In April of 1989, Track and Field News magazine ranked Mike 15th in the nation in the 10,000-meter run, and to date, Mike is still recognized as being the fastest native Iowan at the 10K distance.” —Kirk Neubauer ’76, senior associate director of admissions