Nearly fifty years after the generosity of others made it possible for Mark ’64 and Sue Head Hermodson ’61 to attend St.Olaf College, they’re committed to making sure current and future Oles have access to a world-class education on the Hill.
In addition to their consistent support of the St. Olaf Fund (formerly Partners in Annual Giving), the Hermodsons created an endowed scholarship for St. Olaf students and included the college in their estate planning. They’ve also volunteered for their class reunions, and Sue currently serves as the co-chair of the Gifts Committee for the Class of 1961 50th Reunion.
“St. Olaf not only prepared us well for our professions, but also had an impact on how we dealt with all of the other aspects of our lives,” says Sue, who majored in religion and served as an assistant to the bishop of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America before retiring. “This is our way of saying thank you to St. Olaf.”
The Hermodsons inherited a deep appreciation for education from their parents. Mark, a first-generation college student who grew up in rural Minnesota, took a chemistry course at St. Olaf while in high school through a program funded by the National Science Foundation. That course, and the tutelage of Professor of Chemistry Albert Finholt, cemented Mark’s decision to attend St. Olaf and major in chemistry and math.
“Scholarship money for science students was readily available in that era,” says Mark, who went on to earn his doctorate and enjoy a long career as a professor of biochemistry at Purdue University. “That kind of support is much less available today, and college costs have escalated dramatically. I have a particular concern about first-generation college students who may not have the cultural and financial resources to pursue a college education.”
Providing current students with the same support they received while at St. Olaf is important to the Hermodsons — and is one way that they’re repaying the generosity that made their own experience on the Hill possible. “We look forward to meeting the students who will be recipients of our scholarship,” Sue says.
— Reprinted from the St. Olaf Magazine, fall 2010