Gustavus Celebrates Accomplishments of 2018

Snapshots of the many events, experiences, and stories of our students, alumni, and faculty who combine to make Gustavus great.
Posted on December 31st, 2018 by

2018 began with a bang (literally) at Gustavus Adolphus College, as construction equipment moved onto the South Mall and the College broke ground on the Nobel Hall of Science expansion and renovation project. The momentum continued throughout the year as Gustavus continued to provide an innovative liberal arts experience of recognized excellence, prepare students for lives of leadership and service, and execute the Gustavus Acts Strategic Plan as we continue to grow opportunities for all members of the campus community.

As we prepare to reach ever-greater heights in 2019, let’s take a look back at some of the notable accomplishments that took place over the course of the last year…


A rendering of the renovated Nobel Hall as seen from the north.

Joyce Ladner, Civil Rights-era leader and organizer of 1963’s March on Washington, served as the keynote speaker at the 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture.

Gustavus launched a new virtual tour that introduces prospective students from across the globe to the College with an interactive tour guide and 360-degree views of the campus.

The College announced a $10 million commitment from Bob Peterson ’74 and his wife, Cindy,  to provide funding for the Nobel Hall project and endowed scholarship funding for National Merit Scholars.

Gustavus prepared to break ground on the Nobel Hall of Science expansion and renovation project, a $70-million undertaking that will add over 80,000 square feet of space and create a connection between the sciences and arts with a new laboratory theatre.


Marissa Brandt ’15 represented Korea on the Olympic hockey team. (Photos by Ackerman + Gruber)

Gustavus alumnae Marissa Brandt ’15 competed in the Olympic Games as a member of the unified Korean women’s hockey team.

A record number of Gustavus students (nine) were named semifinalists for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

The College’s Tennis & Life Camps received a $1 million commitment from Boy and Betty Toy to support TLC programming and facilities updates.


The 23rd annual Building Bridges conference took on the stigmas of mental illness and mental health with keynote speakers Leah Ida Harris and Deborah Prothrow-Stith.

Gustavus partnered with several community organizations in the Saint Peter area to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1998 tornado that devastated the town and campus . The event, held at the new Saint Peter High School, was emceed by veteran WCCO news anchor Don Shelby.


Visiting speakers to the campus included Chicana writer and activist Cherríe Moraga for the Moe Lecture in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and free market economist Walter Williams, who served as the 2018 Lindau Resident in Conservative Thought.

The Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations and the Office of Church Relations hosted the sixth annual faith conference with a focus on confronting issues of doubt and difference.

The Linnaeus Arboretum celebrated its 45th anniversary on Arbor Day with a ceremonial tree planting and luncheon.

Dr. Brenda Kelly was named the Provost and Dean of the College following a national search. She previously served as interim provost and has been a member of the Gustavus faculty since 2002.


Nobel Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee

Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee was the featured speaker at the 2018 MAYDAY! Peace Conference, which focused on gender, justice, and peacebuilding.

Jared Morningstar and Annika Schroder won awards from the Swedish Council of America to support travel and educational opportunities in Sweden.

Dr. Brandon Dean was named the next conductor of the Gustavus Choir. He will take over for Dr. Gregory Aune following Aune’s retirement in June 2019 following 24 years on the podium.

Four Gusties won Fulbright Awards, representing the largest-ever group from Gustavus.

The College was named one of 58 Green Ribbon schools and organizations by the U.S. Department of Education.


History professor Greg Kaster won the 2018 Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Gustavus celebrated commencement as 520 members of the Class of 2018 received their degrees.

Dr. Greg Kaster was named the 2018 recipient of the Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching at the 2018 commencement ceremony.

Nearly 900 alumni — spanning classes from 1948 to 2013 — visited campus for Reunion Weekend.


The Nobel Conference held a “sneak peek” event included a tour of Nicollet County farms and soils.

Recent alumnae Lili Rothschild ’17 won a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to support her clinical psychology research on anxiety’s impact on cognition and behavior at the Michigan State University.


President Rebecca Bergman visited residence halls to greet new Gusties.

Chemisty professors Scott Bur and Amanda Nienow both won National Science Foundation awards to support their work on genetic mechanisms in parasites and the environmental and agricultural impact of the herbicide dicamba, respectively. The awards will provide increased research opportunities for Gustavus students.

Jason Pruitt was named the Executive Director of the Gustavus Center for Career Development, a position made possible by a $10 million grant to endow the Center and provide for expanded opportunities and programming for students.

The Gustavus community welcomed nearly 700 new first-year students from 35 states and 17 countries at move-in day on Friday, August 31.


Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter (right) shares fika and conversation with Gustavus students.

Swedish Ambassador to the United States Karin Olofsdotter visited campus and hosted an open session for students on September 17.

Gustavus alumnus Daniel Sellers was named a national finalist for Teach for America’s Peter Jennings Award.

First-year student Gena King ’22 won the Black Women’s Agenda’s Bright Futures Award and scholarship. She was recognized at a gala luncheon in Washington, D.C. and met dignitaries including U.S. Representative John Lewis.


The 54th annual Nobel Conference dug into the science and ethics of soil health and introduced new, interactive elements to the two-day conference.

Dr. Kate Knutson, Deb Swanberg, and Amy Brown were recognized with the College’s outstanding employee awards at the annual Founders Day Celebration on October 30.

The 2018-2019 Gustavus Mentoring Program kicked off with an opening banquet that connected nearly 300 students with alumni mentors in their field of interest.


Christmas in Christ Chapel 2018

Four professors offered students an interdisciplinary teach-in on the historical events of 1968 – a year widely recognized as a seminal moment in the fight for civil rights and the future of protest and justice.

A new book was released that celebrates the legacy of legendary Gustavus President Edgar M. Carlson. It’s written by his daughter, 1964 graduate Joanna Carlson Swanson.

Gustavus was named the winner of a $1 million grant to support professional development opportunities for ELCA pastors in southern Minnesota.

The 46th annual Christmas in Christ Chapel worship services explored Visions of Divine Mystery.


Sophomore Tyra Banks was selected as the 2018 St. Lucia.

Tyra Banks ’21 was named the 2018 St. Lucia at the College’s 78th annual Festival of St. Lucia.

Dr. Kathi Tunheim was named the College’s inaugural Vice President for Mission, Strategy, and Innovation after serving as a professor in the economics and management department since 2007.

For the second straight year, Christmas in Christ Chapel worship services were broadcast nationwide on public television stations through a partnership with Twin Cities Public Television.

Curtis Kowaleski, MBA, CPA, was announced as the College’s next Vice President for Finance, Treasurer, and Chief Financial Officer. He joins the Gustavus community after serving at St. Norbert College for the past 11 years.


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



  1. Jack Little says:

    I see a lot of pleasing patterns in this narrative, love it #GoGusties #WhyGustavus

  2. Tami Chavez says:

    Twelve months that show what a fabulous school GAC is!! Couldn’t be happier that my daughter is a Gustie! She’s grown unbelievably!! Also, can’t believe she only has 3 semesters left! Never expected it to go by so quickly!

  3. Ursula Lindqvist says:

    We rock! Thanks for this inspiring summary, JJ!