By Katherine Hedland '88
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
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
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
“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.