Ross Murray ’00 Shares About His Visit to the White House – Advocating for the LGBT Community

Ross Murray '00 at the White House Forum on LGBT Human RightsAugsburg alumnus Ross Murray ’00 recently attended the inaugural White House Forum on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Human Rights. Ross currently serves as the Director of News for GLAAD, a non-profit media advocacy organization for the LGBT community. Murray has also been listed by Mashable as one of 10 LGBT Rights Activists to follow on Twitter. Following the visit to the White House, we caught up, to ask Murray a few questions.

About Ross
Through my advocacy as Director of News at GLAAD, the nation’s media advocacy organization for the LGBT community, I spend a lot of time sharing the stories of a wide range of LGBT people. One of those areas has been labeled Global Voices, a program that shares the stories of people all around the globe advocating on behalf of LGBT causes, in addition to building media attention around the draconian anti-gay laws in places like Uganda, Russia, and Nigeria.

How did your invitation to the White House Forum on LGBT Human Rights come about?
The White House used the fact that June is celebrated as Pride Month, to hold a convening on LGBT and international human rights. I was invited, along with leaders from the nonprofit, advocacy, corporate, and international community. We listened to Ambassador Susan Rice and notable guests describe what the Obama administration is doing to advance LGBT and human rights abroad. We also participated in panels and breakouts to tell the administration what other steps are needed.

Ross Murray '00 with VP BidenHow did you prepare for this event?
My preparation was mainly my background working on LGBT issues globally. I felt good that I was aware of all the steps that the U.S. has taken, and what actions our leaders are still considering. I also thought that the most valuable part was listening to the LGBT advocates from Uganda, Kenya, Russia, Argentina, and China. In fact, one LGBT leader, whose work I have admired for so long, made the most memorable statement in a breakout session: “If Obama says that Uganda should not persecute gay people, then it will be seen as Western imperialism. But if celebrities like Christian Renaldo, Jay-Z, or Rihanna say the same thing, then the young people will follow what they say.”

How did your education at Augsburg College prepare you for your role at GLAAD?
My passion for advocacy really was sparked in my time at Augsburg College. My undergraduate degree in Youth & Family Ministry has been a foundation for the work that I do. I resisted being an advocate, but my time with faculty like Doug Green, Janelle Bussert, Mark Tranvik, Robert Groven, and Pastor Sonja Hagander really helped me integrate my learning and apply it out in the wider world. Then, later, when I did my MBA at Augsburg, I learned to think strategically and act smartly.

What advice would you give to current Auggies about advocacy work?
Augsburg already puts a great emphasis on engagement with the community and the world. I think that Auggies need to look inside themselves to see where that passion lies…where they are called in the world. It takes time, and no one can do it alone. I’ve been blessed to be able to follow my passion, and I encourage others to find ways that they can help make the world better for others.

Alumnae Gather to Address Life’s Gripping Expectations

For the first time – Augsburg Associates and Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE) came together to launch an intergenerational event for Auggie women – alumnae and friends!

251252_10150231431818361_1447867_nAuthor, speaker and former KARE 11 and HGTV personality Joan Steffend spoke with more than 100 Auggie women on campus on Saturday, May 17 to explore how women handle life’s many gripping expectations.

During Steffend’s keynote address she said she spent her first 50 years of life trying to measure up to the expectations of others at the expense of inner peace.

As a young child, the red-headed, Cambridge, Minn.-native enjoyed reading, imagining and performing, but felt guilty for not being like others. She often felt lonely and looked for ways to capture the love and attention of even those closest to her.

She studied with Warner Brothers, got married, had children, was a local- and cable-TV personality, and bought a cabin, but still didn’t feel like she was measuring up. She felt an unsettling lack of joy.

Steffend finally had a paradigm shift at age 50 after her only sister passed away from cancer. The gut-wrenching loss helped Steffend put her own life in perspective. She realized she had spent her whole life ignoring her true self and that she was ultimately responsible for her inner peace.

Steffend, now a 58-year-old author and speaker, said she doesn’t spend time apologizing for who she is anymore.

“I have my own ruler,” she said, “and I am measuring up!”

Steffend’s keynote address was accompanied by inspirational musical performances from alumnae Laura Schmidt ’11 and Becky Shaheen ’11 and thought-provoking comedy performances from the writers and actresses of “2 Sugars, Room for Cream,” Carolyn Pool ’91 and Shanan Custer.

Steffend’s story was used to kick off the table conversations where participants answered specific questions about their life’s journey so far. Attendees engaged in multi-generational small-group discussions, facilitated by alumnae table hosts, about the challenges and victories of measuring up to their own expectations and those of others.

“It was a great event to reflect on whether I am internalizing social expectations or I am living and being myself,” said one attendee.

Other attendees raved about the wonderful variety of women with whom they had a chance to ineract.

“[It was] so great to speak with other women from different walks of life,” said another attendee.

The inspirational morning was rounded out by an alumnae panel involving author, teacher and social worker Lee Furman ’61; Minnesota’s first Native American lesbian legislator Susan Allen ’92; and Vietnamese immigrant Tina Nguyen ’08. The three panelists spoke about building their faith and confidence to defy the odds of succeeding in cultures very different from their own. It concluded with meaningful reflection from Abigail Crampton Pribbenow who shared her own perspective of how she feels she is measuring up.

The “Am I Measuring Up?” event was a collaboration between the AWE Advisory Board, the Augsburg Associates Board and more than two dozen Auggie volunteers. The two boards look forward to collaborating more to provide Auggie women the opportunity to connect, learn and give.

State Grant Program Advocacy – Event Recap: Day at the Capitol

Augsburg College had 1,054 State Grant recipients on campus this past academic year—that was 34 percent of all Augsburg undergraduates. In total, Augsburg students received more than $3.4 million in State Grant awards.  In support of this program, which bridges the gap between loans, scholarships and other aid, 12 students attended the Day at the Capitol for State Grant advocacy.  These students met with Representative Phyllis Kahn and Senator Greg Clausen ’74 for a networking breakfast in the morning, and spoke with over 24 legislators throughout the day.

Yeng Vang ’14 describes how the state grant program helped him attend Augsburg, “I wouldn’t be here if not for grants and scholarships. Things like the State Grant allow you the opportunity to go to college, opening the door to future possibilities.”

If you are interested in showing your support of the state grant program, sign up to receive occasional email updates, newsletters and action alerts on important issues facing state and federal financial aid in Minnesota.

Aging Lab – Augsburg’s Department of Psychology

Are you interested in contributing to research on healthy aging?  The Psychology Department’s aging lab is looking for participants, aged 60 – 80, to take part in paid, on-campus research on a variety of psychological issues such as memory, attention, and decision making.

Our research lab was created three years ago with the goal of investigating normal, age-related changes in thinking and behavior.  Given the demographic changes in our country due to increases in longevity, studies on the cognitive abilities of older adults are becoming a vital part of psychological research.  Our primary goals in researching cognitive changes in older adulthood is to help shape public policy, dispel stereotypes, and identify ways to make our “golden years” the very best they can be.

Besides contributing to the larger scientific research community, we also focus on training the next generation of student researchers.  Our undergraduate student researchers collaborate closely with faculty to address unanswered questions in the field.  Our students have presented their findings at local conferences, and some have already gone on to work in the field after graduation. Students frequently say that meeting with participants is one of the most enjoyable experiences of their time on campus!

To produce quality research and positive learning experiences for our undergraduates we need people who are interested in contributing their time and effort to a worthwhile cause. Most of our experiments take less than an hour to complete. You are paid for your time, and parking on campus is free to our participants. The results of your participation are always kept in strict confidence, and we have detailed procedures for ethical and responsible conduct in experimental research. Before you agree to participate in any individual study, we make sure to inform you of the nature of the tasks you would be doing, and any potential benefits or risks to participating. You are always free to cease participating at any time.

If you, or anyone else you know, is interested in finding out more information, please contact Dr. Ben Denkinger at, 612/330-1172, or our lab e-mail at We will respond with answers to any of your questions, as well as details about how to get signed up for experiments starting this fall.

Feiern Sie Ihr lutherisches Erbe y die Reformation

Feiern Sie Ihr lutherisches Erbe y die Reformation translates to Celebrating Lutheran Heritage and the Reformation.

Augsburg College is designing a custom travel program for October 2016 that will celebrate the Reformation and the upcoming 500th anniversary of when Martin Luther in 1517 nailed the 95 Theses to the church doors in Wittenberg, Germany. A highlight of the trip itinerary will be a visit to Wittenberg over October 31–a time when the town annually celebrates Reformation Day with a parade, medieval fair, special church service, and evening concert. In addition to visiting Wittenberg, the itinerary includes stops in the German cities of Berlin, Dresden, Eisenach, Erfurt, Leipzig, and Prague, Czech Republic.

Led by Augsburg Department of Religion faculty members Mark Tranvik and Hans Wiersma, program participants will explore the lives and ministries of Martin and Katie Luther and the legacies of influential Lutheran musicians Johann Sebastian Bach and Paul Gerhardt. They will learn about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a 20th Century German theologian and martyr, and Jan Hus, a church reformer of 15th Century Prague–100 years before Luther. Participants also will hear about the church’s role in the Peaceful Revolution that brought down the Berlin Wall and remember the sobering days of WWII at the Buchenwald concentration camp. This travel program is an opportunity to explore the connections between people, cultures, and historical events while examining the Reformation as an ongoing influence in the 21st Century.

To receive updates about this alumni tour as plans are finalized, email, or call 612-330-1085 to be included on a mailing list.

Micelle, the Augsburg Biophysics Newsletter

Whether you were a physics major in college, work in the sciences now, or are in general interested in these topics, this newsletter will make you proud of your fellow Auggies! The Spring 2014 issue of the Micelle features student research, a new course, and ways for you to get involed!

Spring 14 Issue - Biophysics Newsletter (page 1)

Spring 14 Issue - Biophysics Newsletter (page 2)


Mina Halling ’12 Publishes

Mina Halling ’12 sent the English Department the following news and testimonial:

“First off, (a very abridged version of) my Departmental Honors project, ‘Adventures in Time, Space and Community College: Narrative Structure and Thematic Depth,’ has been featured in A Sense of Community: Essays on the Television Series and Its Fandom. Colin [Irvine] helped put me in contact with the editor of the collection over a year ago, and the book is finally ready to go. (And my essay is first! Exciting.) Here’s a link:

“I also have a personal narrative piece, ‘Trivia Weekend: The Less Cool (but no less great) Minnesota Get-Together,’ that is about to be included in an e-book called Bright Lights, Twin Cities: A Collection of Stories from Real Minnesotans. Here’s a link for that one:

“… I’m sharing this stuff with you as a delayed part of Thank A Teacher Day. I’d like to say a huge thank you to each of you for making me a better writer, editor, thinker and person. I feel like I’m making steps on the long path to Making A Living By Writing, which is pretty awesome, and it wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for your influence.”

Have you recently published? Received a promotion? Won an award? Started a business? Got married or had a child? If so, share your exciting news with us and submit an Auggie class note.

Summer Camps at Augsburg College

summercampsSummer camps at Augsburg provide an exciting opportunity for regional students to experience life on a small college campus and to learn from the College’s outstanding faculty and staff. Augsburg’s unique location in the heart of Minneapolis gives students perfect access to all there is to see and do in our vibrant, diverse city. Learn more about the various camps offered at Augsburg College.


Golfing with Auggies

rp_primary_golf-augsburg-2If you’re a golfer, there are several opportunities to support Augsburg College athletics this summer, with numerous fundraising golf tournaments at courses throughout the Twin Cities area. In addition to golfing opportunities, there are also options for businesses and individuals to sponsor holes or donate prizes for raffle drawings.

Learn more and register.