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Linfield president receives Distinguished Service Award

Luther College awarded Dr. Thomas Hellie one of eight prestigious alumni awards for his achievements and service.

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

Hellie graduated magna cum laude from Luther College in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech and theatre. He received Master’s and doctoral degrees in speech and theatre from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

He began his teaching career at Hiram College in Ohio, where he advanced to chair of the college’s theatre arts department.

Hellie served as a program officer (1989–90) and as vice president (1990–99) of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. From 1999–2006 he was executive director and president of the James S. Kemper Foundation, which supports and funds programs that promote liberals arts education.

Hellie has served as president of Linfield since 2006.

He was named to the board of directors of the Foundation for Independent Higher Education in 2007 and has served as its secretary since 2009. Since 2008, Hellie has been a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, serving as chair of the committee on student aid since 2009 and on the executive committee since 2010.

Hellie’s work in education also includes serving on the board of directors of the Oregon Independent Colleges Association, which appointed him chair for 2010–12. He was a trustee of Lenoir-Rhyne College, the U.S. Business School of Prague in the Czech Republic, and the Northwest House of Theological Studies.

Hellie is the author of numerous publications and papers on higher education and a frequent presenter at professional conferences.

His service to Luther includes work as a member of the President’s Council, chair of the Academic Affairs Task Force of the college’s Strategic Planning Committee and member of President’s advisory council.

His professional honors include the East Central Consortium Great Lecturer Award and the Czech Republic’s Pamětní Medal for service to the Palacký University of Olomouc.

Hellie is married to Julie Olds.

Luther College is located in Decorah, Iowa. The undergraduate liberal arts institution serves 2,500 students with an emphasis on faith, leadership and community service.