Rendering shows $70 million Hagfors Center for Science, Business and Religion, now under construction at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Courtesy Augsburg.

 

The University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota, which built new business schools last decade, have company.

Retired business executive Norm Hagfors and his wife, Evangeline, were the lead, $10 million donors to the just-under-construction Hagfors Center for Science, Business and Religion, at Augsburg College.

The $70 million, integrated-discipline complex will anchor the expanding west end of the Minneapolis college that serves 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students. The 135,000-square-foot building is to open in January of 2018. The science hall to the east will be demolished after that, replaced by an arboretum that will be part of an ongoing campus greening project.

The capital campaign, so far at $54 million, is eight times more than Augsburg has ever raised.
Norm Hagfors, who studied electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota, was still a student when he joined founder Earl Bakken in the 1950s as the No. 4 employee at Medtronic, then located in a northeast Minneapolis garage.

Hagfors, who holds several patents, helped transform Medtronic as director of research and manufacturing from an electrical-equipment repair outfit to a global medical device manufacturer.

Hagfors, a low-profile executive during his career, also founded a company that pioneered development of electrical pain-control devices that was sold to Johnson & Johnson. Before his retirement, he was president of another firm and a partner in KLGT-23 TV.

Hagfors, an Augsburg board member, said his interest in science was piqued by a high school science teacher who was an “Auggie.” Evangeline Hagfors has familial ties that go back nearly a century to the college.

The multiyear capital campaign was led by Mike Good, an Augsburg graduate and former All-American wrestler, who retired as CEO of Sotheby’s Realty in 2012 to kick-start a then-stalled campaign.

A third of Augsburg’s undergraduate students are minorities and immigrants.

The compact campus is located across Riverside Avenue, across from the West Bank of the University of Minnesota in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Augsburg, founded as a Lutheran seminary in 1869, cites its strengths as its urban location, diversity, and being a small institution with strong ties to the community and around the globe. It also sponsors the annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum in America.

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