Golden Valley Lutheran College
6125 Olson Memorial Highway
Golden Valley, Minnesota
I took photos at the Perpich Center in October 2012. That day I also visited the Minnesota Historical Society Library to look at the 1969 Golden Valley Lutheran College bulletin, which provided the logo shown above. The 1973 Reflector, the school yearbook, is available on e-yearbooks. Golden Valley Lutheran has an alumni association and maintains a Facebook presence.
Lutheran Bible Institute was founded in St. Paul in 1919. According to Michael L. Scherer in Metro Lutheran, the purpose of LBI was “to teach young Lutherans. . .the basics of Bible content” to prevent them from “drifting away from the church.” With a distrust of “secular education,” LBI did not compete with the Lutheran colleges. However, according to Scherer, Golden Valley Lutheran College was a 1969 attempt to reinvent LBI in a college setting. President Bernt C. Opsal told students that “through a study of God’s word and fellowship with other Christians,” they would understand “what it means to have Jesus Christ as a personal savior and lord.”
The Reflector shows a student body of just over 400—160 Sophomores and 250 Freshmen. They were taught by a faculty of 30. Teachers of English, biblical studies, music, and biology headed the faculty.
GVLC was known for its musical excellence. The a cappella choir did a twelve-day tour of the Southwest in addition to weekend tours of Minnesota in 1971. Overall the group represented GVLC on tours coast-to-coast and in Europe. The chapel choir did a four-day tour of the Midwest. The two groups combined to perform the Childhood of Christ at the Festival of the Christ Child in December.
Faced with escalating costs and a shrinking enrollment, GVLC closed in 1985.
Bricks and Mortar
GVLC occupied a 30-acre campus in suburban Minneapolis. As the image shows, the grounds contained a small lake in a wooded park area. The buildings were new with a modern design. The campus contained three dormitories—Alpha, Beta and Gamma.
After the college closed, the city purchased the campus and later converted it to the Perpich Center for Art Innovation, a high school. One of the dormitories is now used as such for those out-state students who attend the school.
Aerial view of the Golden Valley Lutheran College campus. (courtesy of Cardcow <www.cardcow.com/357626/golden-valley-lutheran-college-minneapolis-minnesota/>)
Team name: Royals
Colors: Blue and Gold
The 1973 Reflector shows that GVLC sponsored intercollegiate teams in cross country, football, basketball, baseball, track and golf. Teams were members of the Minnesota Community College Conference.
The bulletin notes that there were “opportunities for women in cheerleading, basketball, and softball.” In 1973 the women’s basketball team had an 8-1 record. By 1982 the women’s cross country team were national champions.
Although the football team were conference champions in 1977, 1979, and 1980, the 1972 team finished with a 1-7 record, defeating only Ely Community College. The Royals lost conference games to Crookston, Itasca, Brainerd, Fergus Falls, Hibbing and Mesabi.
Basketball was the best-known of the GVLC sports. Coached by trhe late Flip Saunders (later coach of the Minnesota Timber Wolves), the Royals won 56 straight home games. The 1973 team went 11-11. The 1972 cross country team had a 48-1 record, finishing seventh in the national meet at Pensacola, FL.
1978-79 Golden Valley Lutheran College Royals. Head Coach Flip Saunders (dark shirt) is in the front row. Dr. Larry Novotny, who provided this image, is seated directly in front of Saunders.