Monday Moments with President Bergman: October 28, 2019

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College employees each week.
Posted on October 28th, 2019 by

President Rebecca M. Bergman

Do you have family traditions that have been passed down through the generations? My mother recently moved from the family home where I grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to an apartment in a senior living facility. All in all, it has been a good transition for her. For months, my sister and I have been helping her to sort through all the “stuff” in the house and make decisions about what to keep, what to toss, and what to pass on to others. My mother was the keeper of all the family heirlooms, which meant that there were lots of treasures in her house. Throughout the process, I kept trying to figure out which special items should move to Minnesota. In the end, I have an antique four-poster bed, a large copper kettle that was used to make apple butter on my father’s farm, and a dining room hutch that belonged to my great-grandmother, filled with fancy dishes and glassware that were wedding presents to my grandmother. The process of going through these heirlooms has filled me with both nostalgia and anticipation, as I now get to share these items and the traditions they represent with my children and grandchildren.

This week, we celebrate our heritage at Gustavus as well. Thursday, October 31, is Founder’s Day. On this day in 1876, Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter was officially dedicated. Having been founded in 1862 in a church in Red Wing, the school was relocated to East Union from 1863 until 1876. After consideration of a number of sites, a decision was made to permanently locate the school in Saint Peter. It was Eric Norelius who wanted the school to be named after Sweden’s King Gustaf II Adolf, who reigned from 1611 until 1632. While well known for his military exploits, King Gustaf II Adolph is also credited with creating the Swedish “gymnasia,” the system of secondary education that still exists, as well as fostering the rapid development of Sweden’s universities and its arts and culture.
In his address at the dedication on October 31, 1876, Eric Norelius said, “Gustavus Adolphus is a name that shines like a star of the first magnitude … its very sound has a peculiar charm in the ears of every true Swede.” Norelius believed that Gustavus was “yet in its mere infancy.” He stressed the unity of all knowledge and wanted to develop all the faculties of the students–intellectual, religious, and moral. He was a man with vision, and though we’ve grown and diversified our community and our many educational offerings, we see this same desire to educate well-rounded students in today’s mission statement and focus on the liberal arts.
Cheers to Eric Norelius and to all traditions that give us joy. Please join me on Thursday as we commemorate Founder’s┬áDay during Daily Sabbath in Christ Chapel and a reception to follow in Alumni Hall. As we reminisce on the rich traditions of the past, let us also celebrate the promise of the future as we move forward together.
With respect,

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