New presidents named for Gustavus Adolphus College, Luther College

3/4/2014 12:00:00 AM

            CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Two of the 26 colleges and universities of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have named new presidents: Rebecca M. Bergman will become the 17th president of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., and Paula J. Carlson will become the 10th president of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Luther's Board of Regents announced its election of Carlson Feb. 28, and Gustavus' Board of Trustees announced its election of Bergman Feb. 27.
            "The network of ELCA colleges and universities faithfully continues the 500-year-old Lutheran intellectual tradition of offering excellence in higher education," said the Rev. Mark Wilhelm, program director for schools at the ELCA churchwide organization. "I am delighted to welcome Paula Carlson and Rebecca Bergman to the community of leaders who steward these fine institutions."

About Bergman

            Bergman will take office July 1, succeeding Jack R. Ohle, who is retiring. She will become the first woman president in Gustavus' 152-year history.
            "Gustavus Adolphus College is a special place. It has been an extraordinary experience for me to have the privilege to be a member of the Gustavus' Board of Trustees and to get to know the campus, the people and the culture of the institution," said Bergman in a college release. "I have prized the opportunity to work with an institution so strongly committed to education and discovery. I look forward to participating in the next phase of the Gustavus story in whatever ways can best foster the future success of the college."
            Bergman, who has served on the college's board since 2007, is vice president of Research, Technology and Therapy Delivery Systems at Medtronic, Inc. She was a senior executive in the past 14 of her 26 years there. Bergman currently leads a research and development team of scientists and engineers at Medtronic. She was vice president of the company's Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management's New Therapies and Diagnostics, as well as vice president of Corporate Science and Technology, where she directed biomaterials and biosciences research and development and more.
            "Becky is a proven leader as demonstrated not only by her successful 26 years at Medtronic, but also by her seven years of service on the college's Board of Trustees," said Warren Beck, trustee and chair of Gustavus' presidential search committee.
            "Her leadership skills, ability to collaborate and effectively communicate, and knowledge of the college's strengths and challenges make her uniquely qualified to lead Gustavus at this pivotal time in the college's history. I couldn't be more pleased that she will be our next president," said Beck.
            Bergman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., and undertook graduate study in a Ph.D. program in chemical engineering and material science at the University of Minnesota. Bergman has received a number of Medtronic's highest technical and leadership awards during her tenure with the company. She was elected as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2001 and elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2010. She is a member of the board of directors of other organizations and is on a number of academic advisory boards. She served on the National Advisory Council of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health and on the Board of Trustees of St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn.
            Bergman is married to Thomas A. Bergman, M.D., chief of neurosurgery at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, and they have four children.

About Carlson

            Carlson is vice president for mission at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., another higher education institution of the ELCA. She will become president of Luther July 1, succeeding David Tiede.
            "I am deeply honored to become Luther's next president. I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff, regents and the wider Luther community to continue building Luther's strengths as an excellent, vibrant and thriving liberal arts, residential college of the church," said Carlson in a Luther news release.
            Carlson is a scholar of medieval literature and modern American literature. She was vice president and liaison to the St. Olaf Board of Regents, and she was director of the Wendt Center for Character Education and associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa. At the university, she led initiatives on interdisciplinary programs in ethics and character formation in the college, graduate school and seminary, and she also led the development of a new college core curriculum.
            "After an engaged search process including key representation from our Board of Regents, faculty, staff and students, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Carlson as our 10th president. Dr. Carlson's broad experience in liberal arts and strategic leadership will be key in continuing the mission of Luther College," said Paul Torgerson, chair of Luther's Board of Regents and co-chair of the presidential search committee.
            Carlson is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Olaf, and she earned a Master of Arts degree, a Master of Philosophy degree and a doctorate in English and comparative literature from Columbia University in New York. Her teaching experience ranges from first-year college writing classes to graduate seminars at St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Ind.; Yale University in New Haven, Conn.; the University of Wisconsin--Platteville in Platteville, Wis.; and at the University of Dubuque. Carlson specializes in 14th-century English poetry and contemporary American prose, focusing on religious themes, characters, questions and issues. With Peter S. Hawkins, she is the contributing editor of the series "Listening for God: Contemporary Literature and the Life of Faith" published by Augsburg Fortress Press.
            Carlson is married to the Rev. Dr. Thomas Schattauer, a professor of liturgics and dean of the Chapel at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, and they have two children. Wartburg is one of eight ELCA seminaries.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

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