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[Pacific Lutheran Scene]


Award, program mark new era in Norwegian education

By Katherine Hedland '88

Ceremony Honoring Toven
FROM THE KING: Professor Audun Toven, (LEFT), stands with Knut Vollebek, Norway’s ambassador to the U.S., and PLU President Loren J. Anderson at the ceremony honoring Toven.

PLU professor Audun Toven received a prestigious award from the King of Norway the same day friends of the Norwegian American community were introduced to an innovative international program taking shape at PLU.

Knut Vollebek, Norway’s ambassador to the U.S. and former minister of foreign affairs, presented Toven, associate professor of Norwegian, with the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit on behalf of King Harald. Toven now holds the title Knight of the First Class. The award was presented at a special event sponsored by the World Trade Center Tacoma.

The ambassador recognized Toven for introducing an entire generation of students to Norwegian culture and politics.

“He is a person who has contributed tremendously to Pacific Lutheran University and Norway,” Vollebek said. “He is one of the most dedicated goodwill ambassadors for Norway on the West Coast. The Norwegian authorities are very grateful for all the work Professor Toven has done.”

“I am deeply honored,” said Toven, who has tirelessly worked to expand the Scandinavian Studies program at PLU and helped found the Scandinavian Cultural Center on campus. He was born in Norway and joined the PLU faculty in 1967.

PLU President Loren J. Anderson praised Toven’s years of service to PLU and to Norway. “Flashes of brilliance and moments of greatness are within the reach of each of us, but a sustained commitment like his is remarkable,” Anderson said.

Celebrating the 100 th anniversary of the Nobel Prize, the ambassador spoke of the importance of, and Norway’s commitment to, achieving world peace. Anderson said PLU’s respect for the Norwegian philosophy of peace and philanthropy is one of the factors driving the proposed program for the study of the Scandinavian approach to democracy and development. The ambassador spoke at an event in Seattle that resulted in donations and pledges totaling $300,000 over the next five years to fund it.

The new PLU program will be committed to study of the Scandinavian approach to global peace, democracy and development. Through the program, scheduled to begin in the 2001-2002 school year, PLU will partner with Hedmark College in Norway and the University of Namibia (Africa). The program will give students and faculty from all three institutions opportunities through study-abroad programs and other channels to work with and study international development in all three nations.

“Our dream is that sometime in the next century, we might offer you a candidate for the Nobel Prize as a result of this initiative,” Anderson said.

The events were made possible with the help of two PLU alums who are also Norwegian. Kim Nesselquist, ’83 is vice consul in Seattle, and Andreas Udbye ’83 is the new director of the World Trade Center Tacoma.

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