Nils Hasselmo

Posted: June 2019

The LSA reports with regret the recent death of longtime member Nils Hasselmo

Hasselmo, Nils age 87, died Wednesday, January 23, 2019 after a 20-year battle with prostate cancer. Hasselmo was president of the University of Minnesota from 1988 to 1997 and served as president of the Association of American Universities from 1998-2006.

A native of Sweden, Hasselmo completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in Scandinavian languages and literature at Uppsala University in Sweden and completed his military service in the Swedish Royal Signal Corps, including officer's training. As a scholarship student in the United States in 1956-57, he received a B.A. at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. He finished a Ph.D. in linguistics from Harvard University in 1961. After teaching at Augustana College and the University of Wisconsin, Hasselmo joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 1965. During the next 18 years at the University of Minnesota, he served as chair of the Department of Scandinavian Languages and Literature, director of the Center for Northwest European Language and Area Studies, associate dean and executive officer of the College of Liberal Arts, and vice president for administration and planning. In 1983, he left Minnesota to serve for five and a half years as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Arizona. Returning to the University of Minnesota as its 13th president in December 1988, Hasselmo served in this capacity until 1997. He then assumed the presidency of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an association consisting of the 62 major research universities in the United States and Canada. AAU shapes federal policy for higher education, science, and innovation. He served in that capacity in Washington DC until 2006.

He was a consultant to American and Swedish universities, non-profit organizations, and the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the United Arab Emirates. His consulting work included leadership development, board functioning, academic program creation, research advancement, and presidential evaluations. Trained in linguistics, Hasselmo's scholarly work focused on the study of bilingualism and contact linguistics, including books and articles on the Swedish language in America. He was a Fulbright-Hays scholar in Sweden and Iceland in 1968-69 and held visiting faculty appointments at American and Scandinavian universities. A vibrant and dedicated academic leader, Hasselmo served as chair of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, now the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), the Big Ten Council of Presidents, and the Minnesota Higher Education Advisory Council. He was president of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study, the Swedish-American Historical Society, and chairman of the Swedish Council of America, an umbrella organization with 300 affiliates. He served on the boards of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the Universities Research Association, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Council on Library and Information Resources, the American Scandinavian Foundation, and the Friends of Uppsala University in North America. Hasselmo was the 1991 Swedish- American of the Year awarded by the Swedish government and the Vasa Order. Hasselmo received honors including the Royal Order of the North Star by the King of Sweden, 1973; King Carl XVI Gustaf's Bicentennial Medal in Gold, 1976; and the Sandburg Medal, 1989. He was elected to membership in Swedish scholarly societies and holds honorary doctorates from institutions including Uppsala University and Augustana College.

Nils lived a rich family life. He spent his years at the Universities of Minnesota and Arizona with his wife Patricia (nee Tillberg), whom he met at Augustana College and who died in 2000. In 2003, he married Ann Die, President Emerita of Hendrix College and President Emerita of the American Academic Leadership Institute. He is survived by his sister Ingrid Hirvonen (Juhani) in Sweden, three children Peter (Donna), Michael (Chantal), and Anna Williams (Jim), a step- daughter Meredith Levine (Aaron), six grandchildren, three step-grandchildren, and a newly arrived great-grandson. An event honoring Hasselmo is planned for late spring at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis (please check back for details as updates will be provided in the online version of the obituary at…). Memorials/gifts requested to Augustana College at… - designation "Hasselmo prize for academic pur-suit" or University of Minnesota at