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New Tech Center named

By   Erin Wood
01/29/2015

A local family name will welcome students and guests to the new Technical Education Center at Lake Region State College. 

A gift to the LRSC Foundation from Renard and Candace Bergstrom and Anne-Marit Bergstrom will strengthen and support programs based in the Technical Education Center on the Devils Lake campus. The building will be named Bergstrom Technical Center.

The name was approved by the State Board of Higher Education at its meeting January 29th. 

“Lake Region State College is proud to attach the Bergstrom family name to its recently constructed center for technical education,” said Dr. Doug Darling, LRSC President. 

The Bergstrom family involvement with LRSC has been in place since the college opened in 1941. Arthur Bergstrom founded Lake Chevrolet Motor Company. The dealership has been owned and operated by the family since. The business was well established when the decision was made to create a two year college in Devils Lake and Art supported this progressive decision.

William (Bill), son of Art and Marjorie Bergstrom, joined the family business in 1960. Bill and Anne-Marit supported the college in many ways. Bill was instrumental in the growth of the college and served on the first Board of Trustees for the college. 

Through the years, the Bergstrom family has supported the college in other special ways, in addition to Bill's work to create facility resources.  Anne-Marit Bergstrom (Mrs. Bill Bergstrom) has engaged in multiple fund raising efforts for the college.  These efforts have resulted in many opportunities for the college, including acquisition of the Steinway Grand Piano that is used on the stage of the Robert Fawcett Auditorium, and the creation of the Chautauqua Gallery that is dedicated to Mrs. Bergstrom’s Parents, Leo and Alma Studness.

In 1991 Bill and Anne-Marit were joined by their son and daughter-in-law, Renard and Candace, in the family business.  In 1996 Renard succeeded Bill as CEO of Bergstrom Automotive Management. The business and family continues a close working relationship with the college and employs numerous technical students each year in a work internship that enhances the school’s automotive technician program immensely. 

Currently, Bergstrom Automotive has 94 employees. Renard Bergstrom said that of those 94 employees, 39 have taken classes at LRSC and 15 of them have degrees from LRSC.

“It is a privilege to be able to continue our family support of Lake Region State College.  LRSC has had a positive influence on our family, our business, and our community as a whole.  We are grateful to the forward thinking people in the past and present who have given tirelessly and selflessly to make it possible for LRSC to flourish as it does today. We believe the future is bright for LRSC and are excited to be able to be part of it,” Bergstrom said.

The new, Bergstrom Technical Center is a truly state of the art instructional resource that will serve the educational needs of students and the community for years to come, Darling said.

“The gift from the Bergstrom family will ensure the new facility maintains its prominence. The gift allows LRSC to make improvements in educational resources and classroom areas not included in the construction project. The gift also brings scholarship opportunities for students pursuing education in automotive technology,” he said.

The Bergstrom family gift has two components. A generous endowment will be used to strengthen the automotive technology program through scholarships and/or program support. Funds from a bequest gift will be used to support priority needs for technical education at LRSC when it matures. Both parts of the gift were matched by the ND Higher Education Challenge fund. 

The Bergstrom family gift was critically important to the success of the Challenge campaign and it will enable LRSC to provide a level of excellence in technical education beyond the base provided by traditional funding sources, said Laurel Goulding, Vice President for Advancement at LRSC.

“The college and its foundation are extremely grateful to the Bergstrom family for their enduring commitment and generous support,” Goulding said.

The college cut the ribbon opening its new technical education center in September 2014. This project had long been at the top of the college’s priority list because once again, the college was out of space and renting classrooms off campus. In 2013, North Dakota’s legislature funded a $5.9 million capital project for technical education. It funded a suite of new classrooms mostly for the nursing program, new mechanical systems and a touch up to the exterior of the two older technical buildings that were incorporated into the design for the new center. 

However, no resources were allocated to address the needs of 32,000 square feet of classroom and workshop space in the two 70’s era buildings wrapped into the project. Committed to make the older classrooms as new and technologically advanced as the new portions, LRSC launched a $2 million fundraising initiative. Gifts for priority projects were eligible for match through a challenge fund, also funded by the legislature. 

“Many generous donors responded to the challenge and the major gift from the Bergstrom family completed the home stretch for the challenge campaign,” Goulding said.

LRSC’s foundation captured its assigned match of $1 million. It also claimed $100,000 from the residual left by other small campuses unable to qualify for their entire match allocation. 

“The match campaign energized donors to invest in LRSC, and essentially in student success,” Darling said.