Augsburg News

News Archives - 1996

Norway Awards Knight's Cross to Augsburg Nordic Center Director Nadia Chistensen

June 27, 1996

His Majesty King Harald V of Norway recently honored Nadia M. Christensen, executive director of the Nordic Center at Augsburg College, with the prestigious Knight's Cross, First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.

Christensen was honored for her lifelong dedication to furthering relations between the United States and Norway. Her work over the last five years as director of Augsburg's Nordic Center was a factor in making Augsburg one of the king's stops during his trip to the United States last October.

"I was surprised--and deeply honored--to receive the Knight's Cross," Christensen said. "This award is an affirmation of the Nordic Center's important role as an ongoing expression of Augsburg's Norwegian heritage."

Augsburg was founded in 1869 as a theological seminary to train Norwegian Lutheran immigrants for ministry in frontier parishes, and the college recognized the importance of that heritage by establishing the Nordic Center in 1983. The center promotes interest in contemporary Norway and the other four Nordic nations--Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden--while facilitating activities of Nordic American groups and serving as a cultural bridge between the United States and the Nordic nations.

The Knight's Cross is given for outstanding service in the interest of Norway to foreign nationals, Norwegian nationals who are permanent residents abroad and foreign civil servants. Christensen is the second person at Augsburg to receive the award in the last four years. Augsburg president Charles S. Anderson was honored in 1993.

Christensen received her award on May 20, which, by coincidence, was the birthday of her Norwegian grandfather Chris Gundersen, whom she described "as one of the most important sources of my deep love for the land of my forefathers."

Christensen is also the second person in her family to receive an award from Norway's king. Her father, Bernhard Christensen, Augsburg's president from 1938-62, received the Knight of the Order of St. Olaf from His Majesty King Olaf--King Harald's father.

Nadia Christensen is recognized as one of the foremost translators of Norwegian literature and has taught Scandinavian subjects at the University of Washington, Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Minnesota. She has also served as the director of publications for the American Scandinavian Foundation and as editor-in-chief for the Scandinavian Review.

She has translated numerous literary works, including "Dina's Book," a recent novel by prize-winning Norwegian author Herbjorg Wassmo that is currently being made into a co-produced Danish and Swedish film. It is currently available in both hardcover (Arcade Publishers) and paperback (Transworld Publishers) editions.

Christensen graduated from Augsburg in 1959 with a degree in sociology. She received her master's degree (from University of Minnesota) and doctorate (from University of Washington) in comparative literature and emphasized Scandinavian languages throughout her undergraduate and graduate studies.

Among her other professional activities, she has served as a U.S. State Department escort/interpreter for visiting Scandinavian dignitaries and a consultant-reader for United States and European publishers.