Margaret Hayford O’Leary has been teaching at St. Olaf College since 1977. She did her graduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her undergraduate degree at Concordia College (Moorhead) in German and education. She began learning Norwegian as a young teenager at Skogfjorden, the Concordia College Norwegian Language Village, where she spent 15 years first as camper and later as staff member. She specializes in language pedagogy, particularly the use of technology in teaching Norwegian. Her first foray into creating language teaching materials was in the early 1990s when she co-authored a textbook for intermediate Norwegian, Norsk i sammenheng, with Frankie Shackelford. She later co-authored a CD-ROM for learning Norwegian called KlikkNorsk. with Nancy Aarsvold and Louis Janus. These grammar exercises are now freely available at the web portal, På gang (paagang.com), in addition to other lessons for intermediate Norwegian and above.
In 2010 she published Culture and Customs of Norway (Greenwood Press, 2010). Her most recent book is Colloquial Norwegian (Routledge, 2016), co-authored with Torunn Andresen.
Margaret travels to Norway as often as possible, and spent two sabbaticals at the University of Oslo. She has also led several study tours to Norway and Scandinavia, including two for Smithsonian and several for St. Olaf Study Travel programs. In 2005 she led a companion tour to the St. Olaf College band, choir and orchestra tours of Norway. In 2013 she led another St. Olaf tour, accompanying the St. Olaf Choir on its centennial tour of Norway, and in 2017 led a St. Olaf group to Bergen and Oslo with her husband going along as assistant. One highlight of the tour was dinner with Knut Brakstad, private secretary to His Majesty, King Harald V.
From 2007-2016 she taught Norwegian language and culture at the University of Oslo International Summer School.
In 2016 she was awarded Kongens Fortjenstorden, ridder 1. klasse (The Royal Order of Merit, Knight First Class). She is excitedly anticipating an audience with HM King Harald on January 22, 2018.
Margaret lives in Northfield, MN with her husband, Doug. Her daughter graduated from St. Olaf cum laude in 2002 with a Norwegian major, after having studied in Norway and Jerusalem, and William Mitchell law school in 2009. She is currently serving as assistant county attorney in Morrison County. She recently blessed Margaret with twin grandchildren, a boy and a girl, born on 17. mai! Her older son graduated cum laude from Concordia College (Moorhead) in 2007 with a major in Computer Science and is a software engineering consultant in the Twin Cities. Her younger son graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, from St. Olaf, with a major in Norwegian and concentrations in Nordic Studies and Environmental Studies. He spent a semester on the DIS program in Copenhagen, Denmark, and studied at summer schools in Bergen and Oslo. He recently completed his masters in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Minnesota. He also is a web designer.