Grand View Receives $1.5 million gift to establish The James E. Rasmussen and Duane M. Skow Chair in Pastoral Excellence

January 17, 2018

Grand View University announced today that it has received $1.5 million to create The James E. Rasmussen and Duane M. Skow Chair in Pastoral Excellence at Grand View University. Thanks to a generous gift from Kurt and Lynette Rasmussen and Sandra Rasmussen, the endowment aims to preserve and strengthen Grand View’s commitment to providing excellent pastoral leadership for current and future generations of students and enable Grand View’s ministries and its partnership with Luther Memorial Church to become a model or a “center of excellence” for the larger Lutheran Church.

The Reverend Russell Lackey, Grand View’s campus pastor, will serve as the first holder of the Rasmussen-Skow Chair. Rev. Lackey oversees Grand View’s campus ministries and faith development for students, regardless of religious affiliation, and also serves as head pastor at Luther Memorial. Rev. Lackey’s work also includes overseeing the NEXUS Institute, a grant-funded program aimed at encouraging high school students to pursue lives of ministry. In addition, Rev. Lackey is completing his doctor of ministry degree (D.Min.) from Duke University and recently published Power and Purpose: The Book of Revelation for Today.

The endowment will allow Rev. Lackey to focus his work on pastoral excellence while also determining ways in which his pastoral leadership at Grand View and Luther Memorial can have a positive impact within the larger Lutheran Church.

“As our society continues to become more complex, flexible and faithful pastors are needed to adapt with it. This gift will strengthen the Nexus Institute, our partnership with the Lutheran Bible Institute, our local community and the larger Church as a whole,” says Reverend Russ Lackey, “I look forward to the important work this generous gift will allow us to pursue.”

Grand View University and Luther Memorial Church share a history that dates to the late 1800s. The founders of (then) Grand View College were also the founders of Luther Memorial. For the first 20 years of Luther Memorial’s existence, the congregation worshipped on Grand View’s campus and was served by pastors who also held positions at the College. Over the years, even as the two entities became two distinct organizations, Grand View and Luther Memorial have shared members, leaders and ministries.

In 2000, Grand View created a full-time Campus Pastor position to provide pastoral leadership for the entire university community. In 2004, Grand View and Luther Memorial entered into a formal agreement in which the Campus Pastor at Grand View also would serve as Senior Pastor of Luther Memorial.

“This endowed chair will have a profound impact on Grand View’s ability to enhance and sustain our religious service to campus and our community,” says Kent Henning, president of Grand View University, “The Rasmussen Family’s commitment to our Lutheran heritage will allow us to preserve this important part of Grand View’s proud tradition for generations to come.”

Kurt Rasmussen, a Des Moines native, 1988 alumnus of Grand View and board of trustees member, is president and CEO the Rasmussen Group. Lynette is corporate counsel for The Rasmussen Group and also serves as the Honorary Consul for Denmark in Des Moines. Sandra Rasmussen is a 1957 alumnus of Grand View. The endowment is named for Kurt and Lynette’s late fathers, James E. Rasmussen, a 1957 alumnus of Grand View and Duane M. Skow. They were both longtime members of Luther Memorial and instrumental in establishing the joint pastor role at Grand View and Luther Memorial.

The Rasmussen Family has a long history of philanthropy at Grand View University, including support for the building of the GV Student Center’s Jensen Bridge and Ibsen’s Valhalla, The Rasmussen Center for Community Advancement Professions and support for the Johnson Wellness Center’s Nursing Therapy Room. Grand View respectfully acknowledges and thanks the Rasmussen Family for their dedication to and support of the University.