Planting Seeds for an Urban Arboretum • October 14

Campus quadAre you curious how the Hagfors Center for Science, Business and Religion will impact campus green space? Do you have questions or ideas for how Augsburg could maximize our green space in our urban neighborhood? Do you really love trees? Join us October 14th for a special chapel service featuring Professor Larry Crockett who will share insights and philosophies related to stewarding green space.

Following chapel, join us from 11am-12pm in Oren Gateway Center Room 100 for a panel with Q&A moderated by Regent Matt Entenza. The panel will feature partners helping in planning Augsburg’s campus transformation into an Urban Arboretum. Learn how we will maximize green space to improve experiences for students, faculty, staff, and our neighbors!

Panelists include:
Tom Oslund Principal, Oslund & Associates, Landscape Architect
Dale Pederson ’70, Associate Professor, Biology
Ralph Sievert, Director of Forestry & Certified Arborist, Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, Augsburg College.

Jill and Robert Thomas Make $1 Million Challenge Grant for StepUP

Thomas familyJill and Robert Thomas of Tulsa, Oklahoma, are on a mission to erase the stigma associated with addiction and recovery—and it starts at Augsburg. They’ve made a $1 million challenge grant for Augsburg’s nationally recognized StepUP® Program, which helps students champion lives of recovery, achieve academic success, and thrive in a community of accountability and support. “The StepUP program is the Gold Star standard for collegiate recovery,” says Jill.

The couple is leading the drive to raise $10 million in endowment for the program and challenging others to “step up” to the plate to meet the urgent need for effective collegiate recovery programs.

Philanthropy + Advocacy = Change

Jill and Robert (who is co-owner of Tulsa-based Senior Star) envision StepUP emerging as the program of choice for students in recovery and the employer of choice for top professionals in the field. They want to lift up StepUP as a model of excellence and see it replicated on campuses across the nation. They hope to see misperceptions about addiction and recovery shattered by the success of adults with addiction in their past. It all adds up to profound change. “First we have to start talking more openly about addiction and recovery, and then we have to start supporting it financially,” says Robert.

“We believe that our efforts can help organizations make a difference and move the needle in some very important things for people,” explains Robert, who served on the Alzheimer’s Association National Board and received the Maureen Reagan Award for outstanding Alzheimer’s Advocacy in 2010. Both he and Jill are leaders in Alzheimer’s advocacy and involved in several community organizations, including the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma and the Tulsa Area United Way.

They are parents of daughters Allie Thomas ’14 and Olivia Jordan, who currently serves as Miss USA.

Desperation, Love, and Hope

Jill and Robert learned about StepUP the hard way, through daughter Allie’s struggle with chemical dependency and her eventual recovery. “The despair and the fear of all it was all encompassing,” says Robert of that time in their lives.

Allie was living out of state when she hit the proverbial rock bottom.

“My dad swooped in and we came home to Tulsa,” says Allie. I had a series of stints in treatment centers, then stints of relapse. I was really unwell. It’s is so sad to think back on the person that I was.” Continue reading

Honoring Elms, Embracing Green Horizons

Campus quadIn early August, two of the three remaining elm trees in Augsburg’s quad—an alumni gift from more than 50 years ago—were removed because of Dutch Elm disease. While it was a sad day on campus when the trees were felled, we reserved some of the wood to be transformed into pieces of art, partnering with Tom Peter, a local certified arborist and wood-turning artist.

photo 1The elms created wonderful character of space in the quad for decades, and have helped inspire our longer-term visioning of the central campus as a larger green space that, over time, becomes an even more significant component of campus life.

The design for an expanded quad is one of the central ideas resulting from work done in 2011 to develop a campus master plan, and has recently inspired new thinking around a special campaign effort to support the creation of an “urban arboretum”—a multi-functional green space that deepens the student, faculty, staff, and community experience through hands-on education, research, and recreation.

To learn more about Augsburg’s urban arboretum and how you may own a wood-turned creation from the elm trees, please contact Amanda Storm Schuster, Director of Leadership Gifts at 612-330-1098 or

Brewtel Means Big Things for Finnegans

Jacquie-headshotAuggie superstar and 2014 Spirit of Augsburg award recipient Jacquie Berglund ’87 is excited about the newest plans unveiled for the downtown Minneapolis block that is the proposed headquarters for the general contractor Kraus-Anderson. The Finnegans owner says news of the “Brewtel,” a hotel and Finnegans brewery concept will be a game-changer for Finnegans if approved. The beer company, which donates 100% of its proceeds to fighting hunger through donations to local and regional food shelves, would create a three-story brewhouse, event space, and a “Finnovation Lab” that would function as a business incubator for social entrepreneur start-ups. Read more about the news in the Star Tribune. Finnegans celebrated 15 years in business on Sept. 1, 2015. Next to the Newman’s Own brand, Finnegans is the second longest-running company in the country that donates 100% of its profits. Finnegans has given more than $500,000 to anti-hunger efforts since 2000.

Berglund will also serve as co-chair of Homecoming 2015 with Devean George ’99, and is excited to be back on campus to see Auggies from all classes.

Homecoming Convocation Honors Exceptional Auggies

Homecoming is the time to honor alumni and friends of the College who have contributed to Augsburg or who have made significant accomplishments since their graduation. This year at Homecoming Convocation at 10 a.m. in Hoversten Chapel, we honor Dan Anderson ’65, Grace Herr ’57, and Harvey Peterson ’52 with the Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of significant achievement in vocation, for outstanding contribution to church and community, and for a life that exemplifies the ideals and mission of Augsburg College. Physics professor Mark Engebretson and longtime manager of the Centennial Singers Mike Walgren ’64 will receive the Spirit of Augsburg Award, which honors alumni and friends of the College who have given exceptional service that contributes substantially to the well being of Augsburg by furthering its purposes and programs. Keme Hawkins ’05 will receive the First Decade Award, which is presented to Augsburg graduates of the past 10 years who have made significant progress in their professional achievements and contributions to the community, and in so doing exemplify the mission of the College. Continue reading

Urban Scrubs Campers Explore STEM & Health Fields

Augsburg hosted Urban Scrubs Camp for the sixth consecutive year this July. Scrubs Camp invites high school students interested in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and medical fields to immerse themselves in an experience-based program that exposes students to many fields, including dentistry, psychology, engineering, nursing, and more. During the week-long day camp, students participate in hands-on sessions, tour medical facilities, experience a variety of healthcare activities, and are exposed to numerous career options. It’s a fun way to learn about health-related careers, meet others, and get a sneak peek of life as an Auggie.

This year, Augsburg hosted 76 students and several alumni engaged as volunteers. Alumna Mary Ann Kinney MAN ’04, DNP ’11, a registered nurse at Mayo Clinic’s St. Mary‘s Hospital in Rochester, served as a keynote speaker and discussed her work in community building. Kinney has had extensive immersions through her graduate studies at Augsburg in Mexico and Guatemala and with homeless populations in Minneapolis and Rochester. She served as delegate to the first International Conference on Women’s Health in Beijing, China.

Urban Scrubs

Urban Scrubs campers at work in the Boston Scientific engineering workshop.

This camp provides a unique experience for metro-area students who otherwise might not have access to healthcare education. Last year, 70% of participants were students of color and 20% of campers were local to the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

Scrubs Camp is made possible by generous support from corporations, foundations, and community members. For the third year, Boston Scientific employees volunteered at Scrubs Camp. Steve Oommen facilitated two engineering workshops for campers.

Financial Services News for Parents

Fall 2015 billing statements will be electronically sent to all registered students on July 9. To ensure that all financial aid has been applied for, and correct amounts are owed, please make sure your student has turned in all necessary documents to the Student Financial Services Office by July 1. Students can see what documents are missing by logging into their Augnet account and clicking on ‘Records and Registration’ and then ‘Track My Financial Aid.’

All students are encouraged to give parents/guardians access to view their billing statements. Students must log in to and select ‘Make a Payment/Account Activity’ on the right hand menu. Click ‘View your online student account’ and follow the instructions under ‘Parent/Third Party Access Instructions – Make a Payment.’

All students are eligible to enroll in Augsburg’s Online Payment Plan; enrollment will open on July 10. Students must log in to and select ‘Make a Payment/Account Activity’ on the right hand menu. Click ‘Payment Plans and Discounts’ and follow the instructions under ‘Augsburg Online Payment Plan.’ To ensure 5 monthly payments, the application must be completed by July 26.