Looking Back on 2016

Snapshots of the many events, experiences, and stories of our students, alumni, and faculty who combine to make Gustavus great.
Posted on December 31st, 2016 by

As Gustavus Adolphus College pauses for the holiday break and prepares for the work that awaits in the New Year, we look ahead with hope and excitement to the promise of all that the future holds. As we reflect on 2016, we look back on milestones that have passed while at the same time laying the groundwork for the College’s continued growth as we move boldly forward.

This year our community launched the new Gustavus Acts Strategic Plan, mourned the loss of several legendary professors and staff, celebrated 100 seasons of Gustavus football and 75 years of men’s hockey, and shared the beauty of the fine arts in Anderson Theatre, the Kresge Studio, the Hillstrom Museum of Art, and Christ Chapel.

As 2016 draws to a close, let’s take a moment to look back on the calendar year. A lot can happen on a college campus in 12 months. Here are some snapshots of the many events, experiences, and stories of our students, alumni, and faculty who combine to make Gustavus great…


The renovated Anderson Hall will include a gathering space for students and faculty.

The College announced renovations to A.H. Anderson Hall to prepare the building to house the Department of Education, the Center for Academic Resources and Enhancement and Writing Center, the John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning, and a new multifaith center. The updated building opens in February 2017.

Jaime Hollis was named the director of the Diversity Center, joining the Gustavus community after serving in a similar role at Gonzaga University.

Dr. Rashad Shabazz, an expert on the implications of geography and race, gave the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture on Monday, January 18.

A three-year, $100,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was implemented to support January Interim Experience classes that focus on digital humanities.

Three Gustavus seniors were named semifinalists for the prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program.

Students in English professor Baker Lawley’s January Interim Experience class launched Razor Literary Magazine, a national online literature publication.


The Gustavus Symphony Orchestra and Gustavus Jazz Lab Band toured Greece and Macedonia in late January and Early February.

The Gustavus Choir completed a ten-day concert tour which showcased its talents in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota.

Five Gustavus alumnae competed in the Women’s World Bandy Championship in Roseville, Minn.

The Department of Theatre and Dance presented Love’s Labour’s Lost: The Musical.

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, was announced as the College’s 2016-2017 Reading in Common book.


The annual Building Bridges conference focused on the far-reaching implications on the U.S. War on Drugs.

Dr. Jay Sekulow meets with class on Tuesday, March 15.

The chaplains’ office launched a new Gustavus Academy for Faith, Science, and Ethics for high school students after receiving a nearly $600,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Five members of the women’s swimming and diving team competed at the NCAA Championships in Greensboro, N.C.

Senior Ben Dipple was named a winner of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to teach in Turkey.

Dr. Jay Sekulow, noted Supreme Court litigator and #1 New York Times-bestselling author, visited campus for three days as the 2016 Lindau Resident in Conservative Thought.

Junior Alex Kopp won the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association championship in the floor exercise with a Gustavus-record score of 9.850.


Four Gustavus alumnae were honored through the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship.

Grammy-nominated country music artist Hunter Hayes performed at Gustavus on Saturday, April 23.

The Gustavus Wind Orchestra toured the Midwest over Spring Break.

Senior Caroline David was named the 2016 winner of the Donald G. Paterson Award in Psychology by the Minnesota Psychological Association.

The Gustavus Department of Theatre and Dance closed the spring season by presenting Samuel Beckett’s absurdist comedy Endgame and six other Beckett short works.

Seniors Joey Wiley (Malaysia) and Travis Sigafoos (Mexico) were named winners of the Fulbright English Teaching fellowship.

Thomas J. Rooney was announced as the College’s new vice president for finance, treasurer, and chief financial officer..

The 36th annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference focused on divestment and reinvestment.


Sami Swedish musician and indigenous rights activist Sofia Jannok visited campus for the Department of Scandinavian Studies’ Out of Scandinavia series.

Political science professor Alisa Rosenthal was named an American Council on Education Fellow for the 2016-17 school year.

A team of Gustavus students ranked first among American liberal arts colleges in the international Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling.

Ashley Krug ’12 was honored with the Minnesota Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Outstanding Athletic Trainer Recognition Award for her actions responding to a serious on-ice injury during a hockey game in November.

First-year student Karl Satterlund was awarded a Swedish Language Scholarship by the Swedish Council of America to support his study-away experience in Sweden. Senior Griffin Reed won the council’s Glenn T. Seaborg Award.

Professors Mary Joos (Health and Exercise Science) and Dwight Stoll (Chemistry) received College teaching and research awards at the conclusion of the academic year.

587 members of the Gustavus Class of 2016 celebrated commencement on Sunday, May 29. Delaney Sweet served as the class speaker and Dr. Eric Carlson (History) received the Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching.


“Perry” the Corpse Flower bloomed for the fourth time since 2007 in early June.

Gustavus was awarded a $10,000 grant from Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and the Teagle Foundation to support development in the area of Interfaith Cooperation in Professional and Civic Life for the College’s students.

Physics professor Steve Mellema ’72 was selected through the Fulbright Scholar Program to travel to Malaysia in 2017 to teach and do research at Universiti Sains Malaysia (The Science University of Malaysia) in Penang.


Laura Triplett conducts research with students on the Seven Mile Creek watershed.

Director of International and Cultural Education Roger Adkins was named an Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) Presidential Fellow for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Britt Stewart was announced as the new head softball coach after the retirement of Jeff Annis.

Three summer research students explored pollution solutions in the Seven Mile Creek watershed under the direction of geology professor Laura Triplett.

Legendary men’s hockey coach Don Roberts ’56 passed away in July and was celebrated by generations of players and fans at a memorial service on campus in November.

The College was ranked in the Top 30 in the nation in five separate categories in Money Magazine’s 2016-17 Best College Rankings.


Junior Casey Decker conducted research on glaciers in Ecuador under the direction of geography professor Jeff La Frenierre.

Longtime Gustavus Athletics Director Moose Malmquist ’53 passed away and was celebrated with a memorial service on Homecoming Saturday.

First-Year Research Experience (FYRE) students concluded a successful summer of on-campus research in a variety of disciplines.


Speakers Sir Paul Collier and Joerg Reiger at the Nobel Conference.

Gustavus welcomed members of the Class of 2020 to campus at move-in day on September 2 and kicked off the 155th academic year on September 6.

The 52nd annual Nobel Conference brought together experts from across the globe to discuss the search for economic balance.

The Hillstrom Museum of Art won a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage grant through the Minnesota Historical Society.

Professor Anna Versluis (Geography) returned to campus after serving as a Fulbright Scholar in Haiti for the 2015-16 academic year.


The Gustavus community celebrated Homecoming on October 1 with a record number of attendees consisting of alumni, families, and friends of the College.

The Office of Career Development launched a new “cluster” career model to introduce specialized career guidance in a variety of fields as students prepare for the professional world.

Gustavus ranked 58th among liberal arts colleges in Niche’s annual rankings. The College also ranked highly in several different categories of the organization’s rankings.

Vicki Kennedy (Admission), Paul Jacobsen (Dining Service), and Lisa Heldke ’82 (Philosophy) were honored with annual employee awards at the Founders Day Celebration on October 31.


The Gustavus volleyball team secured its second consecutive MIAC championship.

Communication studies professor Leila Brammer is partnering with the Kettering Foundation to teach deliberative democracy on campus and beyond.

The Gustavus volleyball team secured its second-straight conference title and returned to the NCAA National Tournament before falling to defending national champion Cal Lutheran in the second round.

The Department of Theatre and Dance presented More Light in Anderson Theatre November 17-20.

Gustavus announced nearly $12 million in gifts in November and early December, including multimillion dollar gifts from President Rebecca and Dr. Thomas Bergman, Bob ’81 and Beth Sparboe ’82 Schnell, and an anonymous donor from the Board of Trustees.

A team of Gustavus students won the Deloitte Audit Case Competition for the second straight year.


2016 Saint Lucia Alicia Lhotka (front) with other members of the Lucia Court.

The College’s 44th annual Christmas in Christ Chapel worship services took place Friday, Dec. 2 through Sunday, Dec. 4. This year’s theme was “Ubuntu, Jesu: From the Cradle of Humankind to the Ends of the Earth.” For the first time, the full performance is available to watch online at any time.

The College announced that the Gustavus baseball field will be renovated beginning after the completion of the 2017 spring season.

Sophomore Alicia Lhotka was crowned as the 2016 St. Lucia at the College’s 76th annual Festival of St. Lucia on December 8.

Chaplain Brian E. Konkol was elected to the Executive Committee of the Association of College and University Religious Affairs (ACURA), an organization that brings together professionals from higher education to support pluralistic, inclusive approaches to claiming the role of religion, spirituality, and ethical identity in colleges and universities.

Gustavus won the inaugural Minnesota College Ballot Bowl by registering the highest percentage of students to vote. Run by the Minnesota Secretary State’s Office, the competition included 68 colleges and universities in the state.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin



  1. Sandra (Spaulding) Welte '65 says:

    What wonderful achievements for students, staff, and the college itself. My husband and I are so proud to be members of the Gustavus family.

    Jim ’64 and Sandy(Spaulding) Welte ’65

  2. Mihaita Vulpe says:

    For students, 2016 was a great year, I’m looking forward on what 2017 will bring and the “looking back on 2017” post, haha.

    Happy new years!

  3. Eric Gustavson '66 says:

    Again, another year of which to be proud and grateful. Well done Gusties!