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Tag: loren anderson


PLU’s first president was resourceful, too (but not lucky)

When writing an editorial, we often go online to see what information is available beyond what’s appeared in the newspaper or provided by contacts. In researching today’s editorial on outgoing Pacific Lutheran University President Loren Anderson, I came across a fascinating tidbit about PLU’s first president: Bjug Harstad. (Apparently his name was pronounced something like bee-yoog.) The anecdote ended up providing the lead for my editorial.

According to the PLU Timeline from university archives, Harstad was hands-on in 1898 when it came to providing funding for the budding institution, founded in 1890:

Attempting to eliminate the debt plaguing

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PLU, community owe Anderson a debt of gratitude

PLU president Loren Anderson

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

In 1898, Pacific Lutheran University was in such dire financial straits that its first president – Bjug Harstad –  headed off to Alaska for a year and a half hoping to find enough gold to bail out the school. He found none.

Current president Loren Anderson, who is leaving at the end of May and getting a big all-campus farewell Saturday at PLU, also faced a deep financial challenge when he took the reins 20 years ago. But instead of panning for gold in Alaska, he set out an ambitious strategic plan for righting the PLU ship.

Today, he’s leaving the Parkland liberal arts and professional school in a far better place than he found it two decades ago. In fact, campus historian and retired professor Philip Nordquist says Anderson has been the most successful president in PLU’s 122-year history.

It’s easy to see why Nordquist thinks so.

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