Hamline News

Hamline Memories at the Fair

State Fair 12 Main

If you attend the Minnesota State Fair this year, make sure to wander over to the Education Building and stop by Hamline University’s booth. While you’re there learning about what’s new, it’ll be hard not to also overhear former students talking about the memories they made at Hamline.

Norm Knuttila, who graduated from Hamline’s College of Liberal Arts in 1964, recalled his memories of college life while visiting the Hamline State Fair booth.

“I remember the fun times at the fraternity,” Knuttila said.

Knuttila attended his 45-year class reunion in 2009, where he met his sweetheart who graduated in the same year he did four and half decades ago. Knuttila remains connected to Hamline. He recently donated a brick to Alumni Way in front of the university’s new Anderson Center, and he has a son that attended Hamline—Reid Knuttila, class of 1995.

Alumna Mary Christianson, now Mary Sommers, of Hutchinson, Minnesota, talked about a powerful experience she had her junior year in 1965.

“When I was there [at Hamline], they did a teacher exchange with an all Black school in New Orleans,” Sommers said. “I worked in the dean’s office and asked if I could join them.”

Sommers ended up joining two students and two faculty members on that exchange program, which was happening during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

“They exchanged us for a semester at Xavier University,” Sommers said. “And, after a few days there, I definitely felt what it was like to be in the minority.”

Not only did this experience put Sommers in the middle of an historic turning point for human rights, it contributed to what she was pursuing as a career.

Upon graduation in 1967 with a major in sociology, Sommers began working with people who are developmentally delayed.

“I received a very good liberal arts education,” Sommers said. “I got a job right away working at a state school in Illinois.”

Currently, Sommers is gearing up for her 45-year class reunion in October, where she is excited to see fellow Pipers, some of whom she has stayed in touch with since she graduated.

Share your memories with us when you visit the Hamline booth in the Education Building at the Fair! And, check out our presence in the Eco Experience Building, as well. The Hamline School of Education’s Center for Global Environmental Education helped design and coordinate the children’s area of the building for the sixth straight year. Children can learn about their “ecological footprint” by playing various games and activities which show children how they can reduce their footprint.