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On the last day of August, former University of Colorado-instructor Helga Luthers and her students held their usual Nordic Coffee Hour from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Pekoe’s Cafe in the Atlas building on campus. Coffee hour is usually held in Luthers’ cozy, sometimes leaky, office in McKenna, and while it was the first of the school year, it’s Luthers’ last coffee hour at CU.
Luthers was recently hired at England’s prestigious University College London, and her students are saying good-bye as she heads off to London. In her career as a university instructor, she has run a steady Norse program with diverse course offerings.
Jade Cooley,a 23-year-old physics major and Nordic minor, said Luthers was the heart of the program.
“Nordic Club and Nordic minor students always refer to her as being the Nordic program itself,” Cooley said.
Some of Luthers’ intellectually stimulating and creative courses, such as Tolkien’s Nordic Sources, Old Norse Mythology, a course on Vikings, and Medieval Icelandic Sagas, have been featured in The Daily Camera.
Luthers, who hails from Iceland, has also formed independent Icelandic language study programs for students, and served as faculty advisor for the learning of all Norse languages, such as Nordic Coffee Hour. She has also been the advisor to the Nordic Club, which puts on Nordic Market Day and screens Nordic films on the CU campus.
Cooley said that Luthers’ vibrant personality and influence will be sorely missed in the CU community.
“We’re all really happy for Helga, and this great opportunity, but we’re devastated that she is leaving us,” Cooley said.
Luthers said she is looking forward to teaching a new array of courses, including three levels of Icelandic, two levels of Old Norse, and one literature course. She said this will be new territory for her.
“A lot of stuff I’ve never done before,” Luthers said. “Also, I’m completely new to the British system, so this will all be very interesting.”
According to Luthers, two of her planned courses this fall have been canceled, because CU has not hired an instructor to replace her. The loss of these courses will leave a hole in CU’s diverse course offerings, which some say are already dwindling .
However, the department of German and Slavic languages & literatures plans to search for a new instructor for the Nordic program in the spring. In the meantime, the Nordic program continues to offer courses with a graduate student in charge.
“A masters student who was going to be my TA . . . has taken over the [Medieval Icelandic] Saga course,” Luthers said. “She is very smart and I’m sure she’ll do an excellent job – the students are lucky she was willing to step in.”
Contact CU Independent Contributor Laura Herrington at Laura.email@example.com.