Luther College Chips

Pete Espinosa added to Board of Regents

Pete+Espinosa+%28%E2%80%9881%29+founded+Pulpit+Rock+Brewing+Company+with+Jodi+Tollefson+Bjerke+%28%E2%80%9894%29.++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Pete Espinosa (‘81) founded Pulpit Rock Brewing Company with Jodi Tollefson Bjerke (‘94).

Pete Espinosa (‘81) founded Pulpit Rock Brewing Company with Jodi Tollefson Bjerke (‘94).

Photo Courtesy of Pete Espinoza

Photo Courtesy of Pete Espinoza

Pete Espinosa (‘81) founded Pulpit Rock Brewing Company with Jodi Tollefson Bjerke (‘94).

Kristin Wuerl, Staff Writer

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The Board of Regents recently voted to appoint Pete Espinosa (‘81) as their newest member. Espinosa’s term began in October and will last for four years, with the option of being re-elected two times after that.

“It’s very meaningful for me to be part of the Board,” Espinosa said. “I was very humbled when President [Paula] Carlson offered me the opportunity. I really benefited from my Luther education, and I’m eager to give back.”

The Institutional Planning and Board Affairs Committee of the Board of Regents identifies prospective Board members. The committee then works with the President of the College to bring nominations for those new Board members to the full Board. Nominated Regents are then elected to the Board by current Regents.

Carlson said she admired both Espinosa’s entrepreneurial work as a founder of Pulpit Rock Brewing Company in Decorah and his experience with global business while working at IBM.

“[Espinosa’s] experience in the Decorah business community is an asset for the Board because the relationship between Decorah and Luther is so important,” Carlson said. “We live together and share so much in this beautiful valley, and having a local business person on the Board will bring significant value to the Board. I am thrilled.”

One of Espinosa’s goals as a Regent Board Member is to promote Luther’s liberal arts education philosophy and to emphasize the benefits of a liberal arts education at Luther.

Photo Courtesy of Pete Espinoza
Pete Espinoza (’81), the newest addition to the Board of Regents at Luther, with his wife Kari Tollefson Espinosa (’84).

“With a liberal arts education, students learn how to think, as opposed to learning how to memorize,” Espinosa said. “The world is changing so fast and many traditional jobs are now morphing into different jobs. I want to let the rest of the world know about the special nature of a liberal arts education and what’s happening at Luther.”

Another of Espinosa’s goals upon appointment to the Board is to maintain Luther’s traditional Lutheran values while also accepting and embracing diversity in a changing world. This is especially important to Espinosa because his father is from Mexico and his mother is from Norway. He believes he has lived in this diverse world for his entire life.

“I have a vision for the future because I have one leg in a firmly traditional Lutheran world, and another [my father’s side of the family] is Mexican,” Espinosa said. “There is increasing diversity in our world and on campus today. I care about our traditional Lutheran values, and we also have to accept, embrace, and seek other ethnicities and approaches. I feel that’s the world I’ve lived in my entire life.”

Other members of the Luther faculty and staff see potential for Espinoza’s help in programs that already exist. Director of Diversity Center Wintlett Taylor-Browne, Dean for Institutional Equity and Inclusion Lisa Scott, the development office, the admissions office, and the Diversity Center have embarked on an initiative that includes Scott and Taylor-Browne travelling to Chicago, Minneapolis, and Des Moines to engage with Luther alumni in those areas. According to Taylor-Browne, The goal is to help with recruitment and retention of all students, but especially students of color because they have the lowest retention rates of all categories of students.

“I see Espinosa as a partner in this process,” Taylor-Browne said. “[He can] help us connect with the alumni he knows in order to improve our outreach. I also see him as a partner as we plan homecoming events for these alumni, as well.”

Espinosa believes he has found a home in Decorah.

“[My family and I] have decided this is where we’ll spend our future,” Espinosa said. “We want Decorah and Luther to rock. The more I can do for Decorah and Luther, the better a place it can be for everyone.”

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