National Lutheran News

New Center for Nordic Studies at Luther College named

The Luther College Board of Regents announced at its February 23 meeting that a Center for Nordic Studies will be established at Luther and named the Richard L. and Judith A. Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies, in honor of the retiring president and his wife.

Retiring Luther College President Richard Torgerson and his wife Judith Torgerson will be honored by having the college’s new Nordic Center named after them. Photo provided by Luther College

O. Jay and Patricia Tomson, of Mason City, Iowa, have committed $1.25 million to Luther to endow a chair within the center, matching $1.25 million to be raised by the college by May 31, 2014.

The center will provide a programmatic vision to build on the strengths and resources already available on campus in order to forge new ties with Scandinavia, serving students who want to connect their interest in Nordic Studies with a range of disciplines including environmental science and sustainability, immigration and multiculturalism, peace studies, health care, banking, political science, economics, and social work.

The Tomson Family Endowed Chair in Norwegian Language and Modern Nordic Culture will serve as the academic foundation of the center, providing oversight for academic and co-curricular programs. The center will be affiliated with Luther’s International Studies Program.

The naming of the center pays tribute to Richard and Judith Torgerson, who have served Luther as dedicated, visionary leaders over the past 14 years. During Torgerson’s tenure in office, Luther has seen the construction of several new classroom and laboratory buildings and a fitness center; renovation of residence halls, the student union and office buildings; successful fundraising campaigns; an enhanced academic program; recognition as a leader in sustainability within higher education; and many more achievements.

For the past 151 years, Luther College has honored its ties to Norway. The first college in America founded by Norwegian immigrants, Luther’s heritage is a source of identity on campus, in Decorah, and in other communities and organizations in the United States and Norway.

Luther has stewarded its Norwegian heritage in many ways, including being host to eight visits by Norwegian royalty, active involvement in Nordic Fest and the Vesterheim Museum, co-sponsoring the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize Forum for 25 years, coordinating the Scandinavian Summer Institute for 48 years, active engagement in the Norwegian American Historical Association, and bringing a variety of Norwegian musicians, scholars and government officials to campus.

Luther also works hard at maintaining ties with its sister ELCA Norwegian colleges in academic and co-curricular endeavors.

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