Bjug Harstad Memorial Endowment
In the interests of preserving the memory and mission of Rev. Bjug A. Harstad, his grandchildren Isabel Watness and Duff Harstad, along with many others, created an endowment fund at Pacific Lutheran University. The Bjug Harstad Memorial Fund was established in 1994 to carry out Bjug’s heartfelt plea to Scandinavian Americans that “they not lose touch with their ancestral culture and traditions.” In our moment in history, given the urgency and importance of the issues of immigration and identity, Bjug Harstad’s legacy continues to be timely and relevant. As a 12-year-old immigrant, Bjug had the foundation in the customs of the old country that provided him the security to explore the ways of the new country. It is still true for so many of us—being proud of our heritage helps us to be pleased with what we give to our communities now.
The Bjug Harstad Memorial Fund allows PLU’s Nordic Studies Program (formerly the Scandinavian Area Studies Program which has recently broadened its scope) to invite distinguished scholars and professionals to the University each academic year to present a lecture or performance which contributes to a greater understanding of Scandinavian history and contemporary culture. Previous speakers and performers have included Gunnar Sonsteby, Thorvald Stoltenberg, Jahn Otto Johansen, Sigrun Slapgard, Eldbjørg Hemsing, and Cathrine Sandnes. However, as inflation has continued, the funds, which are distributed annually, no longer cover the costs of bringing excellent presenters to PLU. In the past several years to invite lecturers to PLU, we have had to rely on relationships with potential lecturers who happen to already be in the United States on other business. This allows for little, if any, flexibility or planning.
Our vision is to expand the educational opportunities offered from this fund for PLU students and the larger community. To accomplish this goal, a group of Bjug Harstad’s descendants seek to raise an additional $40,000 to increase the Bjug Harstad Memorial Fund to just over $80,000. Endowed funds remain invested while the interest income provides revenue for the program annually. Increasing the fund’s annual distribution will expand the pool of distinguished scholars, allow for advanced scheduling to integrate their topic into the wider University curriculum and attract larger audiences.
Please join us and other relatives and donors in making a financial commitment to ensure the success and continuity of this important program for PLU students and the wider community—now and for years to come.