Grand View Denmark Trip

President Rachelle Keck is excited to announce a special trip to Denmark to reconnect with the University’s Danish ties, establish new relationships and develop global opportunities for students and the University. Grand View was founded more than 125 years ago by Danish immigrants and is the sole remaining Danish-founded University in America. The University is grateful to Marion J. Walker and Anker F. Johnson and Mr. and Mrs. Alfred C. Andreasen and their families for their generous gifts to support Grand View’s Danish connection. The trip will include meetings with officials in government, business/industry and education.

Denmark Trip 2024  

Commemorative Print

Grand View alumnus, David "Zane" Vredenburg ’95, created this commemorative print to celebrate the 2023 Denmark trip and will be used as a thank you gift for Dr. Keck’s Danish hosts.

Zane double majored in art and design at Grand View. In 2007, he earned his master of fine arts degree in integrated visual art from Iowa State University. Since then, Zane has taught art education at Graceland University, Grand View University, Iowa State University, and now at Des Moines Christian School. He was also the Visual and Performing Arts Department Chairperson at Graceland University from 2011 to 2014.

Zane has extensive experience as a creative advertising leader including being an Associate Art Director at Meredith Corporation in Des Moines. He is also an accomplished painter experienced in acrylic, encaustic and mixed media with a record of shows and awards.

Zane lives in Grimes, Iowa, with his wife and daughter and is the father of two adult sons and a daughter-in-law.

We are grateful for Zane’s generous donation of this design visually linking the University to Denmark and its Danish roots.

Grand View's Danish Beginnings

Excerpted in part from The Grand View College Reader and Grundtvig at Grand View by Mark Mattes, Ph.D., Chair of the Theology and Philosophy department at Grand View.

Founded in 1896, the inspiration for Grand View College came from the Danish Lutheran Church in America. Its leaders hoped to create a seminary to train pastors who would provide religious leadership to Danish immigrants. From Denmark came the tradition of the Folk School, whose ideas had been articulated by Bishop N.F.S. Grundtvig. Although the influence of the Folk School concept was profound, the founders of Grand View perceived a need for a more specialized learning center for the training of ministers, teachers and other skilled professionals. They were also concerned that without a Danish institution of higher education in America, their most talented young people would enroll in publicly-funded universities where their sense of Danish identity would dissolve into the cultural mainstream.

From day one, Grand View College was an institution built on debate over how it would represent its Grundtvigian heritage. Some Grundtvigian-Americans wanted it to be a folk high school and other Danes wanted it to be a Danish University, though not based on a Latin curriculum, but one in tune with Grundtvig’s own ideals of a truly Scandinavian university. Eventually Grand View would develop into a junior or two-year college, similar to patterns of development of higher education throughout the twentieth century in the United States. While neither a folk high school nor a university, Grand View was thoroughly shaped by the social practices of Grundtvigianism. Specifically, these included folk dancing, Danish gymnastics, singing of hymns and folk songs, the public lecture as a medium of personal and social enlightenment, and an awareness of Scandinavian mythology and history, along with biblical history. These practices all shaped the character and identity of Grand View students.

It is hard to imagine a more idyllic social setting than Grand View College in its golden years of Danish identity. The student body, staff, and faculty shared a common ethos and loyalty to each other, deeply desiring, for the most part, mutual growth and enrichment among each other. This is not to say that the petty jealousies and quarrels that beset any human community did not exist at Grand View. But the College’s constituencies shared a common identity that kept such negativity in check and provided a framework by which to adjudicate disagreements. Grand View’s identity as a Grundtvigian institution was not due to being the sort of school that Grundtvig ever envisioned, but because its stakeholders honored and fostered specific Grundtvigian teachings and practices.

By the mid-1950s Danish-Americans were becoming integrated into wider American life and culture.  This was inevitable as people migrated from farming communities to the larger cities, with their many opportunities, and as families sought the best prospects for their children to prosper in the wider English-speaking culture. Over the decades, more and more non-Danish youth in Des Moines took advantage of the outstanding educational opportunities offered at Grand View and graduated from its two-year college program. 

While much has changed at Grand View and in society since its early days, the founding principles live on. Faculty at Grand View have a deep commitment to helping students discover their voice and claim agency so they can make a difference in the world. There is also a strong sense of community on campus that provides students with a welcoming and diverse environment to discern their purpose and vocation.

Grand View also has strong ties with the Danish Brotherhood lodge in Des Moines. They are regulars on campus and hold many events at Luther Memorial Church, Grand View’s campus church. Grand View is honored to host their annual Kolde Bord dinner each October. We also have them to thank for making æbleskiver for students and faculty and staff at various events.

The future is bright at Grand View. We are excited about a bold new vision, while still staying true to our mission to engage, equip and empower students to fulfill their individual potential and serve society. Committed to the development of the whole person – mind, body and spirit – and to preparing students for successful careers and responsible citizenship both in their communities and in a diverse and changing world. Informed by its Danish Lutheran heritage, Grand View is a School for Life.