Stanley L. Olsen
Stanley L. Olsen

Augustana College
Sioux Falls, SD

Stanley L. Olsen
Chair of Moral Values

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This Chair is named in honor of Dr. Stanley L. Olsen,
a wise and beloved faculty member (1937-71)
in the areas of philosophy and religion.

Stanley Leonard Olsen

Born 15 Nov 1904 at Rowlands, PA, the son of Elizabeth Ostherhus and Jorgen Olsen.
He grew up in New York.

                 Public School 136, Brooklyn, NY
1922         Graduated from Manual Training High School, Brooklyn, NY
1923-27   B.A. 1927, City College, NY; Major: Philosophy, Minor: English
1928-29   Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ
1929-30   Biblical Seminary, NY
1930-32    C.T. 1932, Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul, MN
1929-33    M.A. 1933, Education, New York University (dissertation on philosophy of John Dewey)
1942-43    New York University, Education
1950         Ph.D., School of Education, New York University (dissertation on philosophy of William Clayton Bower)
1955         Danforth Seminar, Denison University
1968         Summer, University of Minnesota, Philosophy

1927-28   Director of Youth Work, Trinity Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, NY
1932-33   Director of Youth Work, Zion Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, NY
1933-36   Faculty member, Waldorf Junior College, Forest City, IA: Christianity, Speech, English
1936-37   Pastor, First English Lutheran Church, Waco, TX
1942-43   Associate Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, NY

1937-71   Professor, Augustana College, Philosophy and Religion
1958-59   On leave, teaching at Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul, MN
1971         Professor Emeritus, Augustana College

Married Grace Sorbye, 25 Aug 1934, Brooklyn, NY
Children: Marilyn (1936), G. Curtis (1937)

Stanley L. Olsen

Stanley L. Olsen died 10 March 1979, Sioux Falls, SD, at age 74.
Interment at Hills of Rest Memorial Park, Sioux Falls, SD

Grace A. Olsen died 13 August 2003, Sioux Falls, SD, at age 94.
Interment at Hills of Rest Memorial Park, Sioux Falls, SD

Stanley L. Olsen, A Lutheran Appraisal of the Philosophy of William Clayton Bower for Christian Education, doctoral dissertation, New York University, 1950.

Stanley L. Olsen, "Becoming What We Are," Commencement addess, Waldorf College, ca 1954.

Stanley L. Olsen, Fall lecturer to the faculty of Valparaiso University, IN, 1957.

Stanley L. Olsen, "The Nature and Function of Christian Discourse," The Cressett, 21 (8), 6-9 (June 1958).

Stanley L. Olsen, "Means and Ends in Education," address given at South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD, Spring Lecture, 1963.

Stanley L. Olsen, "Philosophy," in Christian Faith and the Liberal Arts, Ed. Harold H. Ditmanson, Howard V. Hong, and Warren A. Quanbeck, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, MN, 1960, pages 142-150.

Stanley Olsen, "On College Education in the Church," Discourse (Moorhead, MN), 10 (1), 3-19 (Winter 1967).

Augustana College

    Chairman of the Humanities Division, 1948-52, 1960-65

    Chairman of the Detartment of Christianity and Philosophy, 1950-56

    Chairman of the Department of Philosophy, 1956-70


    American Association of University Professors

    American Philosophical Association

    Association of Lutheran College Faculties (President 1955-57)


Reflections by Sandra Looney, at the funeral of Stanley Olsen

I was a junior when I transferred to Augustana College and was immediately impressed by my professors: Don and Lucy Fryxell, Earl Mundt, Palmer Eide, and Stanley Olsen. And the respect I had in those early days only increased. These teachers are giants in the earth to me. One of the richest courses I took was as a student of Dr. Olsen's Religions of Man. I was awed by Dr. Olsen; he entered class with a briefcase full of books, and he loved those books. He'd recount rich perceptions from his readings. I often thought I had never seen a face with a more kind countenance. I lost myself in those twinkling eyes, the shaking of his head at a serious thought, the silence as he considered a student's question, the placing of his hand on his chin in his most characteristic fashion as he began his reply. Few teachers have ever conveyed to me the love of knowledge as did Dr. Olsen. I struggled with strange Hindu names, marveled at the traditions of Zoroaster, was intriguiged by the life of Mahariva. Dr. Olsen's anecdotes etched themselves on my heart; they did not allow me to remain complacent. Other students had that same reaction: his manner was mild, but those softly-spoken words were disturbing, fascinating, clarifying. I can still see, these seventeen years later, his final examination before me: two long sections of names and doctrines waiting to be appropriately matched; then the pleasure of setting down some results of his teaching in essay form. I had determined that this gentleman-scholar who had given to me all semester must have nothing but my best in return. Dr. Stanley Olsen's class gave me the foundation knowledge of world religions. As I walked through India years later, I often reflected on his teachings. But I received an even more important gift: the knowledge of what it means to be an educated person. Dr. Olsen taught, by his own life, that "The entire object of a true education is to make men not merely do the right things but enjoy the right things, not merely learned but to love knowledge, not merely industrious but to love industry, not merely just but to thirst after justice" (John Ruskin).

Memories of Stanley L. Olsen

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