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GACA Collection 450. Office of the President. Collection of President Walter Lunden, 1924-1990: Overview

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Collection Description

Office of the President.  Collection of President Walter Lunden, 1924-1990.  GACA Collection 450.  1 Records Center Carton, ½ Hollinger box, and 1 oversize folder.

The President Walter Lunden collection contains papers from his time as President of Gustavus Adolphus College.  Materials include correspondence, publicity, mailings, forms, bills, etc.  Lunden was Gustavus’ shortest serving president, serving for only 18 months from summer 1942 to the beginning of December 1943.

Biographical Note

Walter A. Lundeen (changed to Lunden as an adult) was born in Spencerbrook, Isanti County, Minnesota on 27 March 1899.  He moved to Oregon as a child, returning to Minnesota in 1914.  Lunden attended Minnesota College, graduating in 1918.  After a period of service in the United States Army, he attended Gustavus Adolphus College, graduating cum laude in 1922.  Lunden’s education continued with a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Northwestern Theological Seminary, Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1927; a Master of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1929, and a PhD from Harvard University in 1934.

Lunden’s professional career began at Minnesota College, Minneapolis, Minnesota where he taught history, economics, and English literature from 1922-25.  He worked as the registrar at Northwestern College of Law in Minneapolis, Minnesota from 1925-27.  He was ordained into the United Lutheran Church in America’s Synod of the Northwest on 3 October 1927 in Waukesha, Wisconsin.  From 1927-28 has was a pastor at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Waukesha, after which he returned to Minnesota as an instructor at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, staying until 1930.  From 1930-31 Lunden served as assistant pastor at Augustana Lutheran Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while also attending Harvard University.  Beginning in 1931 he worked as an instructor in criminology, juvenile delinquency, and social problems at the University of Pittsburgh.  In 1939, Lunden received a leave of absence to study the penal system in Sweden.

During summer 1942, Lunden assumed the duties of President of Gustavus Adolphus College.  He initiated a program of campus improvements including repainting, redecorating, and office renovations.  Lunden chose to live off campus instead of living in the campus “White House” which had served as the president’s home since the 1880s.  In November 1942 Lunden, with support from the Board of Trustees, announced a ban on all intercollegiate athletics for the duration of World War II.  He considered the action as a wartime measure made necessary by government-imposed travel restrictions and the college’s strained financial resources.  Students opposed this idea greatly and after some protesting the Board reversed its decision and the ban was lifted.  However, within a few months the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (MIAC) cancelled all official competition for the duration of the war.  After the board reversed its decision, Lunden tendered his resignation as president, but the board refused to accept it.

Around the same time as the athletics debacle, the Board adopted resolutions designed to improve the school’s business practices and financial management.  This helped to launch Lunden’s plan of major restructuring, which included hiring a business manager, proposing major changes to the insurance program, and making a case for increased financial support from the church.  He also began investigating approval for the college to host a V-12 military training unit.  The board supported this idea and Lunden was able to secure approval from the U.S. Navy.  However, the Board decided not to move ahead with plans for hosting the V-12 unit.  After intense lobbying from faculty, alumni, and local business, the decision was reversed.  A few months later, Lunden asked the Board for an indefinite leave of absence so he could accept a wartime commission with the U.S. Army; the leave was denied.  At this point, Lunden resigned again, this time the board accepted, and he left at the beginning of December 1943.

After leaving Gustavus, Lunden took up his commission with the U.S. Army, serving as a chief prison officer in the military police.  He attained the rank of Major and was discharged in 1947.  Lunden joined the Sociology Department at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa in 1947 and taught sociology and criminology there until his retirement in 1969.

Walter Lunden married Lillian M. Check on 25 June 1924.  They had one son, Bruce.  Lunden died 20 November 1990 in Cambridge, Minnesota.

*Information taken from collection and Gustavus: 150 Years of History by Dave Kenney.

Scope and Content

This collection is divided into two series: Papers and Miscellaneous.

Papers contains files from his time as president of Gustavus Adolphus College.  Materials include correspondence, publicity, mailings, forms, bills, etc., arranged alphabetically.

Miscellaneous consists of biographical information, correspondence, inauguration materials, newspaper clippings, and writings

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