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Campus recognizes faculty and staff excellence, commitment to diversity

One is a former Auggie infielder turned coach and educator. Another empowers undocumented students and spends her Saturdays offering one-on-one financial counseling to Latino families. And yet another advocates for inclusion and mentors LGBTQIA students.

Their passions and purposes may differ, but these are among the faculty and staff lifted up at year’s end as champions of the qualities and commitments Augsburg collectively embraces: a focus on deep and transformative learning experiences, the pursuit of meaning through the rigor and discipline of scholarship and creative work, and service within our communities to advance a more sustainable, inclusive world.

Two faculty and one staff member were honored with the 2016 Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Learning Award, given to individuals or groups that have made exemplary contributions to creating an engaging academic learning environment through teaching, scholarship, or service. Six staff members received the Outstanding Staff Award, and the university celebrated 18 faculty and staff members who completed the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate, an 18-credit program to increase intercultural competence in and out of the classroom.

Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Learning

All full-time faculty and staff who have been employed at the college for at least three years are eligible for one of three Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Learning awards given each year. “Selecting winners from dozens of nominees is a tough task,” said Karen Kaivola, provost and chief academic officer.

“There are so many faculty and staff who, given their deep dedication to the college and its mission, would be worthy of the honor the awards bestow,” said Kaivola, who approves juried award recommendations submitted by a cross-campus committee. “Those selected are recognized for their unique and distinctive contributions, and these awards matter because they name and honor superior dedication, work, and service to Augsburg students.”

Joe Underhill, assistant professor of political science, received the Distinguished Contributions to Teaching award for his drive to “push the pedagogical envelope” through his work with the Model UN, International Relations program, and several study abroad and experiential trips. His most recent commitment to place-based learning: The River Semester, a three-month educational journey down the length of the Mississippi River. Powered by canoes, more than a dozen Augsburg students engaged in research, classes, and field trips that integrated the sciences, art, and humanities.

The Distinguished Contributions to Scholarship Award was given to history Professor Michael Lansing, who has established a “strong record” of publicly engaged scholarship and research. His latest book, Insurgent Democracy: The Nonpartisan League in North American Politics, has captured the interest of academics, amateur historians, and the general public by drawing parallels between the progressive movement and today’s political climate.

Dulce Monterrubio, director of Latin@ Student Services, was recognized for her Distinguished Contributions to Service. Nominees spoke of her thoughtful and holistic support of Latino students through passionate advocacy, caring mentorship, and comprehensive efforts to educate and empower individuals to achieve their full potential. Her particular focus on nurturing undocumented students has elevated Augsburg as a leader in inclusion and education for this often voiceless population.

The awards were announced in April at the Honors Convocation and at the Faculty Recognition Luncheon. As the Excellence in Teaching Award recipient, Underhill will speak this fall at Opening Convocation, where the campus community welcomes incoming students. The Center for Teaching and Learning website lists recipients since 2004 and explains more about the criteria and nomination process.

Outstanding Staff Awards

At the close of the academic year, Augsburg also pauses to honor six staff members who exemplify the college’s mission statement through their exemplary work and service. Knowing one’s work is appreciated is important, said Jim Matthias, staff senate chair, and these awards highlight the innovation, dedication, and passion of staff contributions.

From 18 nominees, the staff senate settled on six winners. The awards, Mathias said, do not fall along division lines, but a good representation from across campus is the goal. Because the pool of nominees is so impressive, senate has begun highlighting all nominees during the Staff Appreciation Event in March, which also recognized staff members for their length of service.

“Award selection is one of the more difficult and exciting processes. On the one hand, it is extremely encouraging to read about the amazing work that Augsburg staff members do, most of which is done on a daily basis. But we must narrow it down to six, which strikes a good balance between recognizing as many staff members as possible without diluting the recognition,” said Mathias, administrative liaison for computing. “The selection process takes into account many factors, including length of service as well as impact on our mission and strategic plan. This work goes beyond job descriptions, visibility, divisional representation and previous recognition.”

The following staff members were honored for their outstanding service:

  • Avis Benson, system support analyst, Information Technology
  • Jill Davenport, manager, Purchasing and Central Services
  • Sonja Hagander, college pastor and director of ministries, Campus Ministry
  • Melissa Lee, softball assistant coach and assistant athletic director, Athletics
  • Leah Spinosa de Vega, director of global initiatives and off-campus study, Center for Global Education and Experience
  • Laura Swanson, communication copywriter and editorial coordinator, Marketing and Communication

The Staff Recognition Program shares more information, including a list of current and past recipients, criteria, and the nomination form.

Diversity and inclusion certificate program

The campus also recognized 18 individuals who completed the Augsburg College Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program, demonstrating their commitment to a campus that fully welcomes, includes, values, and affirms all members of our community. The program is a series of courses and workshops that advance intercultural competence and build the awareness, knowledge, and skills necessary to create more inclusive campus spaces in and out of the classroom.

The latest class of faculty and staff to complete certificate requirements:

  • Catherine Bishop, chief student success officer, Academic Affairs
  • Kevin Cheatham, assistant director, TRIO/Student Support Services
  • Amy Garvey, vice president of Student Affairs, Student Affairs
  • Amy Gort, dean of Arts and Sciences, Academic Affairs
  • Michael Grewe, director, LGBTQIA Student Services
  • Sarah Griesse, dean of students, Student Affairs
  • Lauren Hagen, 2015-16 college possible coach, Enrollment Management
  • Kristin Hansen, assistant to the vice presidents, Finance and Administration/Information Technology
  • Melissa Hensley, associate professor, Social Work
  • Rebecca John, vice president, Marketing and Communication
  • Nancy Johnson, assistant professor, Business-MIS
  • Pedro Lander, 2015-16 college possible coach, Enrollment Management
  • Terence McCormick, instructor, Business-MIS
  • Janet Morales, College Access Partnership Program manager, Enrollment Management
  • Alyson Olson, director, TRIO/Student Support Services
  • Joanne Reeck, chief diversity officer, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
  • Abby Schnedler, counselor, Center for Wellness and Counseling
  • Lisa Stock, chief human resources officer, Human Resources

The Diversity and Inclusion website details certificate requirements, which include a personalized inventory and feedback session and sessions about bias, inclusion, cultural competency, and disabilities. Those who complete the certificate may go on to achieve advanced standing, which requires an additional six inclusion-based events. To maintain good standing, each certificate recipient must attend no fewer than three inclusion-based events each year.

Dimension 1, Goal 2, Strategy 2: The College recruits, retains, supports, and celebrates an accomplished faculty and staff fully committed to the academic and personal success of students.

—By Kate H. Elliott