1968 graduate to be grand marshal

Nancy Lindahl has contributed to the University in a multitude of ways.

by Emily Kaiser

As grand marshal of this year’s homecoming parade, one of Nancy Lindahl’s duties is to blow the whistle to start the marching band down University Avenue on Saturday.

She said her dream is to watch the marching band march into a new football stadium on campus someday.

A student committee selected Lindahl for the homecoming post, said Brian Sondag, the homecoming coordinator and a marketing senior. Lindahl is the first female grand marshal since 2000.

“She has a lot of maroon and gold spirit and has contributed a lot to the University,” Sondag said.

Lindahl, a 1968 graduate of the College of Education and Human Development, was not expecting to receive a call asking her to take the position.

“I am so flattered to be grand marshal,” she said. “It was a complete surprise and I am totally humbled.”

Lindahl is active within the University, serving as a trustee with the University of Minnesota Foundation. She also is on the Intercollegiate Athletic Advisory Board and a co-chairwoman for the stadium fundraising campaign. She is also a former Alumni Association president.

She received the University’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2001.

In addition to blowing the whistle to begin the parade, Lindahl follows behind the marching band, is invited to the homecoming pancake breakfast and receives complimentary football tickets, said Jay Arcuri, coordinator of student activities at the University.

Lindahl’s history at the University dates back to her childhood, she said. Her father and mother both taught at the University and often had other professors and visiting faculty over for dinner.

“I honestly thought everyone was questioned about world affairs during dinner, because I lived in an academic household,” she said. “While other kids probably were watching ‘I Love Lucy,’ I had University faculty questioning me on current events.”

Her parents also both died on the campus, she said. Her father died of a heart attack in Northrop Auditorium during former University President Ken Keller’s 1985 inauguration.

“He took his final breaths at a place he loved so dearly,” she said.

While a student at the University, Lindahl kept busy by getting involved in many groups on campus, she said. She was a part of a sorority and worked her way through school with various leadership roles in orientation and freshman camps.

“I was really able to find my place here,” she said.

Her parent’s presence on campus was both a challenge and benefit during her time at the University, she said.

“It was hard being a professor’s daughter and trying to lead a life on campus, but I was also able to serve as a connection between faculty and students,” she said.

Because of her constant interaction with the University as a child, Lindahl said, she never fully appreciated the University, even as an undergraduate.

“I didn’t know the value of the University,” she said. “My husband and I are now very passionate about the University and it is an honor to be alumni and volunteer here.”

Lindahl met her husband, John Lindahl, on campus her junior year at a fraternity event.

“I knew that first night he was the one,” she said.

The two continued their presence at the University by celebrating their marriage with a reception in the Campus Club.

In addition to her volunteerism on campus, she is active in groups across the Twin Cities area, including the United Way, the Minnesota Orchestra Board and as a leader in the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

Margaret Sughrue Carlson, chief executive officer of the University Alumni Association, said Nancy Lindahl is the perfect choice for this year’s grand marshal.

“Nancy is one of the most outstanding community volunteers in the state of Minnesota,” she said.

Carlson met Nancy Lindahl at a sorority meeting almost 40 years ago and worked with her when she became president of the Alumni Association, she said.

“She has an unflagging enthusiasm and passion for the University of Minnesota,” she said. “She is an advocate for this great University everywhere she goes.”