Since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, Lutherans have been champions of quality higher education. In the United States, Lutheran affiliations took many different forms and iterations. This brief description of the Augustana Fellowship will hopefully provide the recipients of this award some background into how it came about.
The Augustana Lutheran Church was formed in 1860 by Swedish immigrants to the United States. In 1962, the church merged with other ethnic Lutheran bodies to form the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), which in turn merged into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in the 1980s.
In 1963, five Lutheran institutions of higher education, including California Lutheran College, each received a check for close to $10,000 from the former Augustana Lutheran Church and its board of Christian higher education. The gifts were designated for the establishment of an endowed Augustana Fellowship fund at each institution and were to be awarded to a graduating Lutheran student for graduate study with the intention of preparing him/herself for a career in college teaching.
Through the years it has sometimes been difficult to find a candidate who meets the criteria, but those graduating students who have been selected as fellowship recipients have brought pride to CLU through their professions and ministries.