November 5, 2001 - Minneapolis Star Tribune: St. Olaf College commemorates a Peace Corps milestone with endowment for peace studies

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St. Olaf College commemorates a Peace Corps milestone

St. Olaf College commemorates a Peace Corps milestone ; On anniversary, an endowment for peace studi...

Nov 5, 2001 - Star Tribune-Minneapolis Author(s): Lucy Y. Her; Staff Writer

As St. Olaf College students, faculty and staff celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Peace Corps today, they're also remembering Scott Kloeck-Jenson, a St. Olaf graduate, whose family and friends created an endowment in his honor. He believed he could change the world by serving and giving to others.

"It was just something that almost consumed him," said his father, Ken Jenson of Maple Plain. "He championed just about every cause for good, it seemed."

But Kloeck-Jenson didn'tlive long enough to see the effect of his work. He died two years ago in a car accident, along with his wife, Barbara, daughter, Zoe, and son, Noah. They were vacationing in South Africa at the time.

After Kloeck-Jenson's death, his family and friends created a $700,000 endowment to support peace and justice studies at St. Olaf. That endowment will be officially announced at today's service.

"He just had an overall desire for peace and justice," Ken Jenson said of his son.

College alumni and faculty members who have served in the Peace Corps also will take part in the service.

More than 390 St. Olaf alumni have served in the Peace Corps since it was founded in 1961. Among them was Kloeck-Jenson.

The money from the Kloeck-Jenson endowment will underwrite hiring professors to teach peace and justice courses, bringing speakers to St. Olaf, building the peace and justice curriculum and helping students go overseas to study, said Chris Thomforde, president of the private, liberal-arts college.

The endowment also will provide money for the Peace Prize Forum, a collaboration among five colleges.

"We want St. Olaf students to be agents of peace and justice in the world, and the generosity of Scott's family and friends enable this calling of our academic community to a special kind of purposefulness," Thomforde said.

Arlen Erdahl, a St. Olaf graduate and former Minnesota congressman who was director of the Peace Corps in Jamaica and associate director for the organization in Washington, D.C., said the Peace Corps has helped shape America's image in the world. In some places, it has changed people's perception of the "ugly American."

"I think that it's one of the great programs that the government has," he said. "It is the epitome of Scott and his wife."

In January, the college ranked fifth in the nation among small colleges and universities whose students have been volunteers in the Peace Corps, and at that time was leading Minnesota colleges with the highest number of volunteers. It currently has 21 alumni in the Peace Corps.

"For a small college, we're generating a lot of energy in international peace and justice," Thomforde said.

He attributed St. Olaf's Peace Corps connection to the college's strong language programs, its Lutheran background of servanthood and its international program.

Kloeck-Jenson also participated in that program, spending a semester in Korea. After college, he joined the Peace Corps and was stationed in Africa, where he met his future wife, Barbara Kloeck.

He received a master's degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993. When he died, he was a doctoral candidate who was leading the university's Land Tenure Center program in Mozambique. He was doing research for his dissertation while working to help African policymakers develop a democratic system for land use after years of civil unrest.

- Lucy Y. Her is at

At a glance:

Peace Corps service

U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone is to speak on the issues of peace and justice today when St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., commemorates the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Peace Corps. Events include:

- 10:10 a.m.: Wellstone addresses the daily chapel service in Boe Memorial Chapel. The service is free and open to the public.

- 11:10 a.m.: Service will be broadcast on WCAL Radio (89.3 FM).

- 3:15 p.m.: Public lecture in the Viking Theater, Buntrock Commons, by Michael Schatzberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison, on "The Cultural Foundations of Political Legitimacy in Middle Africa."

- 5:30 p.m.: Alumni panel discussion on the Peace Corps in the Valhalla Room, Buntrock Commons.

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