Established in 1992 through a gift from the Norwegian government and the Kenneth O. Bjork Endowment Fund, the King Olav V Chair in Scandinavian-American Studies was created to ensure the continued study of Scandinavian and Scandinavian-American history at St. Olaf College. The holder of the chair also serves on the board of the Norwegian American Historical Association (NAHA) whose archives are located on the St. Olaf campus. Odd S. Lovoll, professor emeritus of history and Norwegian, was the first holder of this chair (1992–2001), followed by Todd Nichol, professor emeritus of history (2001–2017). Margaret Hayford O’Leary, professor of Norwegian, held the chair from September 2017 until her death in June 2018.
Professor Dan Dressen joined the St. Olaf faculty in 1982 after receiving his master of fine arts degree from the University of Minnesota, which is also where he received his doctor of musical arts degree. Currently serving as the Associate Provost, he has also served as the Associate Dean for the Fine Arts and as Chair of the St. Olaf Music Department. He recently began a term as President of the National Association of Schools of Music. Professor Dressen’s career as a tenor spans nearly forty years and includes performances in opera, concert and recital. He edited a seven-volume series of opera arias by Benjamin Britten for Boosey and Hawkes.
Dressen’s most recent scholarly focus has been Nordic song and he has endeavored to increase the St. Olaf Library collection of resources in this area.