Obituary: Charles 'Chuck' Anderson, former president of Augsburg College

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 25, 2013 - 9:20 PM

Charles Anderson

 

On Augsburg College’s Minneapolis campus stands a brick building that houses the Hoversten Chapel. Across the street is the small, beautiful James G. Lindell Library, which was cutting edge when it was built.

Charles “Chuck” Samuel Anderson, former president of Augsburg, helped raise money for both buildings at the private, urban college, where he expanded diversity in enrollment and offerings, and required community service as part of academics.

“In many ways, those two sides of the street illustrate the connection between faith and learning that was so core to Chuck’s vision for Augsburg,” said Paul C. Pribbenow, Augsburg’s current president.

Anderson, president of Augsburg from 1980 to 1997, died June 14 after a lengthy illness. He was 83.

“He was a great favorite with the students,” said Richard Nelson of Hackensack, Minn., who co-wrote a book on Augsburg and two of its presidents, including Anderson.

Nelson said Anderson’s “open-door policy” meant students were always dropping by to talk. “He was a good friend to the student body,” Nelson said.

Anderson joined Augsburg in 1976 as academic dean after 15 years as a faculty member at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. He was an ordained Lutheran minister who served in the U.S. Marines from 1951 to 1953.

As its eighth president, he led Augsburg to advance its curriculum to draw more on the diverse neighborhood, with its many immigrants, and to view the city as an extension of the college’s classroom, Pribbenow said.

Anderson was at the helm in “critical years,” Pribbenow said, when small, primarily residential traditional liberal arts colleges were struggling. Augsburg had been having its own challenges with enrollment in the ’70s and ’80s.

“The college was facing difficult enrollment figures in the early ’80s, and he had been a great champion of weekend college for working adults,” Nelson said.

Anderson began the Weekend College and added night classes. Augsburg also began graduate programs.

“The leadership that he provided at that juncture was significant not only for the college but also for the development of similar programs in the Twin Cities generally,” Nelson said. “Several schools began to do that kind of weekend or evening programming in a more direct fashion.”

Pribbenow said today’s student body not only includes older adults, but 40 percent of entry-class students are of color.

“He started that effort to broaden the academic philosophies, which were really a response to the needs of the city and the students who lived here,” Pribbenow said. “And so today we have 10 graduate programs and 4,000 students and a campus in Rochester as well as in Minneapolis. He really set the foundation for that.”

Survivors include Anderson’s wife of 61 years, Catherine; children Eric and Kristin; five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. Services have been held.

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