Professor Ernst F. Tonsing named “Outstanding Scandinavian American of 2010

The Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation (SACHF) will honor a longtime California Lutheran University professor as the “Outstanding Scandinavian American of 2010” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28.

The tribute to Ernst F. Tonsing of Thousand Oaks will be held in CLU’s Lundring Events Center. Refreshments will be served.

Tonsing, who grew up in Kansas and graduated from Midland College in Nebraska, has strong Swedish roots. The SACHF board member emphasizes his heritage in his research, writing and lecturing. He had been a leader and lecturer for the American Scandinavian Foundation of Thousand Oaks, which recently merged with SACHF. One of his many favorite lecture topics is his second cousin aviator Amelia Earhart, whom he will discuss in May as part of the SACHF Scandinavian Lecture Series.

Tonsing taught religion, Greek and religious art at CLU from 1974 until his retirement in 2003. The professor emeritus has also lectured widely on the Dead Sea Scrolls, early Christian art and Martin Luther. Tonsing, 72, has also taught Greek at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. A prolific writer on topics ranging from architecture to religion, he wrote two just-released 50th anniversary books, one on the history of CLU and the other on Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks, where he has been a longtime member. Tonsing has traveled extensively throughout the world and, while at CLU, led several study tours throughout Greece and the Middle East.

Prior to joining the CLU faculty, Tonsing was a U.S. Naval officer. He also received a master of divinity degree and served as a pastor in Oregon. Tonsing then studied early Christian literature and art in graduate school. The professor emeritus has a master’s degree from University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate from University of California, Santa Barbara.

Tonsing faced significant health challenges as a child. He struggled to overcome the effects of both polio and a stroke at the age of 15. He spent time in an iron lung, more than four months in the hospital and many months learning to walk again. He credits that struggle along with the strength of his Scandinavian heritage for giving him the resilience to accomplish all that he has done.

Lundring Events Center is located in the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center, which is north of Olsen Road near Campus Drive in Thousand Oaks.

For more information, contact Siri Eliason at (805) 241-3356 or

Source: California Lutheran University

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