Dale and Sonya Pedersen Margerum ’52: Advancing service
Home: West Lafayette, Indiana
Gifts to For the Hill and Beyond:
- $150,000 to establish the Sonya Pedersen Margerum and Dale W. Margerum Endowment in Science, Political Science, and Government Service, which supports faculty-mentored student research
- $100,000 to create the Sonya Pedersen Margerum and Dale W. Margerum Endowment in Public Service
- St. Olaf Fund Loyalty Society and Leadership Circle members
- Manitou Heights Society members
Impact: The Margerums’ gifts will support at least four paid internships for students engaging in public policy and two mentored student research positions each year, providing Oles opportunities for hands-on learning. These include experiences offered through St. Olaf’s Institute for Freedom and Community.
“To whom much is given, much is required.’ We take that verse from the Gospel of Luke to heart and focus our giving on education…”
Why: “We are delighted to help students explore their callings,” says Sonya, “and experiential learning is important to this process. I am thankful for my opportunities, and hope the Institute will encourage renewed interest in public service. Dale’s own experiences at his alma mater led to a 54-year career as a professor of chemistry—an interest we had in common.”
On the Hill: Sonya delved deeply into her liberal arts experience majoring in chemistry and biology—“My training in the scientific method served me very well in public service.” Later she served as a St. Olaf Regent. “I treasured sitting next to Martin Marty at board meetings—he was well-informed, articulate, wise and served capably as board chair and interim college president—a great model for service leadership.”
Beyond: Initially Sonya worked in the Ames Lab of the Atomic Energy Commission at Iowa State University, where Dale was earning his doctorate. Moving together to Indiana, Sonya earned a master’s degree in political science and administration from Purdue University and served 24 years as mayor of West Lafayette, where she oversaw a multimillion dollar river redevelopment plan, developed a major research park, and created a strategic plan in partnership with Purdue. Of their three children, their son Eric ’81 attended St. Olaf too.
Of her time on the Hill: “In my electives I fondly remember how art professor Arnold Flaten wove his Christian life and faith through his teaching; religion professor Harold Ditmanson’s religion and ethics course also had a profound impact and nurtured my critical thinking. St. Olaf provided me an excellent framework—its commitment to the liberal arts, its core values as a college of the church, and its global perspective shaped me for life.“
Why they give: “To whom much is given, much is required.’ We take that verse from the Gospel of Luke to heart and focus our giving on education, the needs of our local community, and preserving and sustaining the environment. It’s a way we can continue to serve.”