The current Senior Major Gifts Officer in the Development Office graduated from Wartburg in 1975.
This July, he’ll be having another graduation of sorts, as he retires and parts with Wartburg once again.
Denny Haugen has worked in the Development Office for 14 years.
The main purpose of the office is to raise money for the college.
Haugen’s main responsibility was to acquire major gifts, which is anything over $25,000.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “You have to plant the seed, gain their trust and build that relationship and cultivate that relationship.”
Haugen started working in the development office in 2003.
He said he was back for homecoming one year when the Vice President of Development asked if he was interested in working at the college.
Haugen lived in Kansas City at the time, but said the idea of working for his alma mater was intriguing.
One of his colleagues, Jay Boeding, said he’s learned a lot from Haugen over the years.
He said Haugen has shown him how important it is to help alumni show their gratitude and appreciation for Wartburg.
Boeding said he’ll miss having Haugen in the office.
“I appreciate his wealth of knowledge about the college’s history, his enthusiasm for our students and how strongly he cares about Wartburg,” Boeding said.
To succeed at his job, Haugen has to travel a lot to visit with potential donors. He said he’s loved getting to know the alumni and everyone who’s had a history with the college.
“It’s the relationships that have been primary. I guess that’s made me always look forward to travelling and visiting people and gaining their friendship,” he said.
Boeding said before he started working at Wartburg, Haugen was travelling to work with him and his wife as donors.
Boeding said he appreciated how they weren’t treated as simply donors making gifts.
Haugen was interested in hearing their Wartburg experiences, making them members of a family of alumni who care about the future of the college.
Haugen plans on staying involved in Waverly once he retires, but wants to spend a lot of his free time golfing and travelling.
His wife, Marcia Haugen, is the music office coordinator at Wartburg, so he said they’ll spend her summers off golfing as well.
“Two years ago I was planning on working another five or six years. But a year ago, I read something by a man I knew and he died at 78,” Haugen said.
“I realized that was only 13 years away and that I had some retirement years to enjoy.”
July 13 is Haugen’s official last day. Even though he has a lot to look forward to in retirement, he’ll always have his fond memories from his time in the Development Office.
“Working on these relationships has never been a job, but it’s been a passion. I get inspired for the job by the students. And I can take that energy out on the road and share it with the people I work with,” Haugen said.