Dr. Russell Loven to receive Distinguished Service Award

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Dr. Russell Loven

By Shelia Tomkins

Homecoming weekend at Luther College in Decorah will be a memorable one for Guttenberg resident Dr. Russell Loven, who will receive the Luther Distinguished Service Award at an awards dinner that kicks off weekend festivities on the campus.

The award will be presented Friday evening, Oct. 26,  by Luther President Paula Carlson in Peace Dining Room, Dahl Centennial Union, on the Luther campus.

The Distinguished Service Award, one of the highest honors awarded by the college, is given in recognition of success and achievement in professional fields, service to society, contributions to community, and loyalty and service to Luther.

"I feel honored and humbled to be chosen for this award," commented Dr. Loven. He is one of eight award recipients from across the country who will gather at Luther this weekend.

At Friday night's banquet, each recipient has a guest who reads a short account of the honoree's life and career.  Dr. Liang Wee, president of Northeast Iowa Community College, will read on behalf of Dr. Loven.

  Dr. Loven feels very indebted to his Luther College education for his career accomplishments. "Luther gave me a good foundation for my life in education," he said. The college offers a liberal arts course of study that he feels gave him a well-rounded education. Dr. Loven especially recalls learning Spanish and remembers the many religion courses offered when he attended. More importantly, he said, "I learned to do research and how to write," two skills that he feels served him especially well during his career. 

Dr. Loven graduated in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and business. He went on to earn a master's degree in counseling from the University of Northern Iowa in 1963 and a Ph.D. in education administration from the University of Iowa in 1991. 

He had a 44-year career in public education, including being a teacher, counselor, high school principal and district superintendent. 

Some of his career highlights included developing different voctional areas as high school principal in Watertown, Wis. When he was superintendent of the South Winneshiek school district in Calmar from 1978-1994, he led the reshaping of plans for financial solvency, major building improvements and instructional and curriculum improvements. The district was recognized as an Iowa FINE (First in the Nation in Education) school, and a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon school.

Dr. Loven served for seven years as the shared superintendent for the Garnavillo and Guttenberg schools from 1995-2002. He led the two districts in becoming a whole grade sharing district called Clayton Ridge, with the official merger taking place in 2005.

Prior to attending Luther College, he served in the U.S. Army from 1954-56, and was stationed at the RYCOM Headquarters in Okinawa, Japan.

Loven continues to serve his community in a variety of ways. He was appointed the mayor of Guttenberg in 2011 and through elections served through 2017. He was the president of the Clayton County Emergency Management Board, 2014-17. 

He is an active member of the Guttenberg Rotary Club. He was on the Winneshiek Medical Center board of trustees from 1988-1995 and is now a trustee on the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital and Clinics board.

Dr. Loven has been a member of the Northeast Iowa Community College Foundation Board since 1987, serving as the president from 2003 to 2011.

He and his wife, Juanita (Zeman), Luther class of 1956, are members of the Luther President's Council and Heritage Club, and they founded the Loven-Zeman Scholarship in 1995. They are the parents of alumnus Thomas Loven, class of 1985, and the grandparents of Cade Loven and Seth Loven, both class of 2009.

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