In conversation: Luther College alumni reflect on the school’s 50th anniversary

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: June 16, 2022 3:00 p.m.

Janet, left, and Sterling, centre, Bjorndahl, of the Luther College University class of 1979, are pictured with their daughter Judith Bjorndahl, of the Luther College University class of 2017.
Janet, left, and Sterling, centre, Bjorndahl, of the Luther College University class of 1979, are pictured with their daughter Judith Bjorndahl, of the Luther College University class of 2017. Credit: Janet and Sterling Bjorndahl

As Luther College at the University of Regina prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary this weekend, Janet and Sterling Bjorndahl, of the class of ’79, are reflecting back on what made their time at the school so special – and why they continue to be involved today. Janet is currently a member of the Luther College Board of Regents.

What drew you to Luther College?

Janet Bjorndahl: It was a small community – and it felt like a community. People looked after you, and cared about you. Registration for classes was so much easier than anywhere else because you could go to the Registrar’s Office and they would phone around the campus and get you into all these classes that people were lining up overnight to get into.

They looked after you that way. And when I look at Luther now, that looking after people is still part of it.

Sterling Bjorndahl: Having grown up in a Lutheran family… it just seemed like a very natural fit.

It felt like a refreshing partnership between the people that were interested in an enlightened exploration of matters of faith and society along with the intellectual rigor of a larger university campus.

What has made you stay attached or affiliated?

JB: It wasn’t just what Luther did for our careers, what university in general does for people’s careers. I think both of us really took a strong sense of social justice out of Luther. I think the grounding of it was already there from our parents, but Luther really helped to shape that.

SB: My religious upbringing was maybe a bit more conservative than Janet’s, but the chaplains were doing a good job of challenging people like me to start integrating faith with learning.

The chaplaincy really enhanced for me – for, I think, quite a lot of us – the basic values that a liberal arts and science education is trying to achieve, especially for those of us that come out of a faith tradition and need to, at least I think in terms of developmental psychology, be shaken up a bit at that point in our lives.

 Sterling and Janet Bjorndahl’s Luther College University graduation picture.
Credit: Janet and Sterling Bjorndahl

Considering the past and the future, how have you experienced Luther change and grow as an organization and an institution? 

JB: I wouldn’t say it’s changed a lot as much as it’s evolved and matured.

The issues of today and the format of things today are different than they were 40 years ago, but it’s still the same [focus on academic excellence and connecting to our world].

SB: Keeping that recognition of student-focus rather than ideology, I think, has just made the experience here at Luther be continually fresh. Not fighting battles from 100 years ago, not fighting battles from 500 years ago in the protestant reformation.

This is a fresh organization. Its 50 years young. It’s got a lot of life in it.

What kind of messaging do you have for prospective students?

JB:.It is a place where people care about you, will do their best to help you succeed, will challenge you, will provide you an excellent education, and will make sure you’re up to date with the issues of the day.

It could change your life. I mean university can change your life. University is supposed to change your life.

SB: You’re supported, you’re respectfully challenged to grow intellectually and spiritually.

This is a great place to go for those who want that kind of challenge.

To mark 50 years of Luther College at the University of Regina and a commitment to Truth and Reconciliation over the next 50 years, anniversary celebrations will commence Friday at 2 p.m. with the unveiling of the Project of Heart Artwork. The artwork was created by participants in Luther College University’s Project of the Heart program, which was open the wider community to teach about residential schools and commemorate the affected children and their families.  For more information on the 50th anniversary celebrations, visit Luther College University’s website.

Developing the University of Regina's Impact & Identity is part of our [2020-2025 Strategic Plan kahkiyaw kiwȃhkomȃkȃninawak All Our Relations]. We are committed to strengthening our reciprocal relationships and serving the social, cultural, economic, environmental, and technological needs of our communities.