Jim and Sue Swenson have long been committed to promoting Lutheran Higher Education in Southern California. Lutheran Higher Education qualifies as colleges and universities, such as California Lutheran University, who have a partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The Swenson Center for the Social and Behavioral Sciences is one example of the contributions made to CLU and its students. At the Founders Day Convocation on Oct. 18, the Swensons will be presented with CLU’s Christus Award.
The Christus Award’s webpage states that the award is given annually to individuals or couples who have strengthened the bridge between the church and CLU or those who have made significant contributions to higher education within the Lutheran Church. Reverend Arne Bergland, director of church relations at CLU, spoke of the Swensons’ commitment to the students of Southern California.
“The Swensons have obviously been generous donors at Cal Lutheran,” Bergland said. “The reason they are being presented with this award, however, has just as much to do with their commitment to helping students in the area.”
According to Carol Lingrosso, student employment manager and scholarship coordinator at CLU the Swenson Family Foundation Scholarship was initiated in 1998, and is available to U.S. citizens who are full-time students maintaining a 3.0 GPA. Priority is given to students who are also members of the ELCA Congregation in Orange County. The scholarship funds half of the annual tuition and student fees. The Swenson Family Foundation funds 16 scholarships to CLU students each year.
“To date, there have been a total of 85 Swenson Scholarship recipients,” Lingrosso said. “The Swensons have been able to help close the gap between their financial aid and tuition costs, making it possible for them to graduate from CLU.”
Lana Clark, director of stewardship for the University and a CLU alumna, was a recipient of the Swenson Scholarship. She credited the Swensons for her opportunity to attend CLU, and said that without their support, she may not have been able to attend with her family’s support alone.
“I’m not sure my family would have been able to make the commitment to attend CLU if it weren’t for the Swensons,” Clark said. “They feel that they have been showered with blessings and find true happiness in sharing those blessings with others. I now feel like I have the opportunity to give back to a program that made such a significant difference in my own life.”
The Swensons are not only financial benefactors to CLU, but they are also true fans of the school and its students. The Swensons initiated the Swenson Science Summer Research Fellowship, a paid full-time research fellowship that allows students in the natural science division to work with a CLU science division faculty member for the summer. The Swensons have also been known to cheer on the Kingsmen and Regals at sporting events, according to Clark.
“They understand the importance of hands-on learning opportunities,” Clark said. “They support the Summer Research program accordingly. Jim and Sue want to meet all of ‘their kids’ when they make it to events. They believe in our mission of helping students find their purpose and help to make that possible with their generous gifts of time, talents and treasures.”
The Swensons will be presented with the Christus Award at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 18 at Samuelson Chapel during the CLU Founders Day Convocation.
Published Oct. 9, 2013