‘Excellence in Collaboration” award presented to Luther professor

Hongxiao Yu, assistant professor of management at Luther College, won the inaugural Excellence in Collaboration Award this year for forging connections between the college and Decorah businesses like Impact Coffee, Pulpit Rock Brewery and the Landing Market.

“Visits to local companies allows Luther students to hear firsthand the success stories and community-centric values of these businesses,” Yu said. “I want to connect the academic curriculum with real-world experiences for students.”

The award, presented by Luther and the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce, honors collaboration between Luther and the Decorah-area community. For the past two years, Yu has brought students from her management classes to meet with local companies to gain insights on how businesses operate.

“Professor Yu is extremely intentional about connecting subjects in class to local businesses,” said Samuel Scott, a senior management major who took Yu’s marketing class in spring 2023. “Her efforts to link classroom material to real life application has been integral to my learning in the management department.Yu also invited local managers and business leaders to share work experience with Luther students. For example, Linnea Carlson Rahlf, class of 2020 and marketing director of Decorah Bank & Trust Co., gave students practical advice to help guide their professional journeys.

“As a Luther alumni and Decorah employee, sharing my real-world career experience with the students was rewarding. Creating connections between the classroom and our community helps all of us grow,” said Rahlf. “Their questions were insightful, and I enjoyed the opportunity to hear what interests today’s Luther students. In life and work, we’re all always learning from each other. I appreciate Hongxiao reaching out and making the connection.”

Yu has also hosted a Lunar New Year celebration for the past two years at the Landing Market to foster cultural exchanges, where she cooked traditional Chinese food for community members to ring in the holiday. During the 2023 celebration, the event sold out.

To continue to strengthen the college and community connection, Yu joined Luther’s Center for Ethics and Public Engagement (CEPE) Advisory Board. The CEPE designs opportunities for Luther students and the community by inviting speakers, organizing book groups and hosting events.

Yu was one of 12 nominees for the award, which focused on collaborative projects between the campus and community in areas like career services, historic preservation, cultural heritage, manufacturing, small businesses, safety, tourism, research, internships and experiential learning that expanded services, added skills or enhanced the Decorah experience. Nominations for the 2025 award will open in the fall.

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