Expanded summer offerings offer flexibility, encourage on-time graduation

Life—the best and the worst of it all—gets in the way of some undergraduates completing the 16 credit hours in eight consecutive semesters required to graduate on time in four years. In response, Augsburg expanded its summer offerings to help students catch up or graduate early. Additional online and hybrid offerings also allow nontraditional learners to maintain momentum during summer break, said Amy Gort, dean of Arts and Sciences.

“Our Office of Academic Advising and department chairs recommended summer offerings with particular focus on courses in high demand and ones that students can have trouble getting into,” Gort said. “We also asked departments to consider offering at least one major course, if they can be well done in a hybrid and/or online format. The departments that have majors in the Adult Undergraduate program are all offering major courses this summer to give our adult students the option to take courses year-round.”

Graduating on time is in each student’s best interest, she added, to keep college more affordable and to remain eligible for certain financial support, like the Minnesota State Grant, which aids students through eight semesters. Augsburg is also focused on graduating students in four years, as the federal, state, and local governments evaluate the institution based on a four-year graduation success rate.

“We also recognized that many of our undergraduate students are taking summer courses at other institutions and transferring the credits to Augsburg,” she added. “Offering those courses through Augsburg makes it easier on everyone involved and ensures the credits count toward degree completion.

Enrollment is up in both summer sessions—Time 1, from May 9-June 27, and Time 2, from July 5-August 19. Since registration for Time 2 is still open, enrollment numbers are not final, but with more than 3,600 credits so far, summer enrollment is up 5 percent from last summer. Given the increased enrollment this summer, Gort said Augsburg plans to continue emphasizing summer as an important term and building its offerings.

Learn more about Augsburg’s many offerings, including online and hybrid courses, through Admissions or register for summer courses directly through the Registrar’s Office.

Dimension 1, Goal 3, Strategy 3: Integrate and strengthen student success efforts.

—By Kate H. Elliott

Incoming student panel offers insight about technology practices and expectations

College and university councils across the nation meet regularly to predict and prepare for educational technology trends. Nationwide surveys and reports about the latest systems inform these seasoned professionals as they discuss the expectations and abilities of high school students, said Scott Krajewski. And as Augsburg’s director of information technology, he would know. Krajewski oversees the campus’ digital needs and helps guide—you guessed it—the college’s IT Advisory Council, charged with assessing IT dilemmas integrating new tools and approaches into the Augsburg experience.

The 17-member council has been around for six years, driving innovations including Augsburg’s embrace of Google apps. This spring, members decided take a step back from national surveys to directly engage with incoming students. In April, the council hosted the first Future Auggie Technology Expectations Panel to dialogue with first-year students about their familiarity with technology and expectations for its use on campus.

“We were constantly reviewing surveys and research with a macro view of trends and best practices, which are certainly important, but we were largely assuming students’ need and capabilities,” Krajewski said. “Each university population is different, so we felt it was important to dig in and have a conversation with our students, to fully understand what they expect and experience.”

An open, inclusive discussion

Krajewski and his IT team worked with Admissions to gather three representative first-year students to talk about their exposure to technology and their hopes for interacting with it at Augsburg. The council invited the campus community to attend the nearly two-hour panel, which was moderated by a sophomore student worker in the IT department. Krajewski said several interesting themes emerged:

Give them options to achieve intended outcomes. The students spoke about wanting freedom to satisfy an assignment through various means, rather than being forced into one structure. For instance, if the goal of an assignment is to demonstrate an understanding of Greek mythology, consider allowing students to create a video or PowerPoint presentation rather than requiring them all to write a paper.

Present content in a visual, diverse way. “Please, please,” the students said, “don’t lecture at us every day.” Incoming students desire a more engaging, interactive learning environment, and they prefer visualizing content whenever possible.

Continue to email. Krajewski said many professors claim “students don’t check email anymore,” opting to communicate exclusively on social media platforms and via text. The panel’s response: not true. The students said they check email about twice a day, reiterating that it remains a viable communication channel.

Embrace digital but maintain tactile experiences. The students expressed a bit of a contradiction, Krajewski said. They like e-books for the ease of virtual highlighting and searchability, but they still enjoy reading physical books. Each of the students seemed extremely comfortable jumping from one mode to another, suggesting that a hybrid approach is the best.

Provide regular online access to grades. Students like to view grades online, and they like to check in throughout the semester to assess their performance. The students also indicated they prefer receiving feedback about specific projects and assignments online.

Keep computer labs. Krajewski said his team was interested in whether students see a value in computer labs. The students admitted they hadn’t thought much about it, but the sophomore moderator chimed in. He said computer labs provided a focused space for him to work and a change of scenery, similar to motivational benefits of going to a gym rather than always trying to work out at home.

Another panel next spring

Krajewski said the council is eager to continue the panel each spring, as the talk informed the campus community and reinforced that Augsburg is “on the right track” in its use of technology to enhance experiential learning and to deepen curriculum to prepare students to excel in today’s workforce.

But in coming years, the council intends to invite more students to ensure a broader representation of Augsburg’s campus community. Krajewski said he wants to include students who have not taken college courses, as all three of the students on the panel had earned college credit through Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO), which allow high school juniors and seniors to take college courses for both high school and college credit.

“We want to make sure we are gathering feedback and perspective from a broad range of students, particularly those who have had no exposure to college courses and hybrid or online structures,” he said. “Student insight is key to ensuring Augsburg’s approach to technology remains relevant and agile.”

Krajewski said he looks forward to robust panel discussions as more faculty and administers learn about the opportunity it provides for honest discourse and reflection about digital practices.

Part of a larger effort

The advisory council’s efforts are part of Augsburg’s multidimensional approach to advance technology on campus and to provide support to students, faculty, and staff. Krajewski said the IT department remains engaged with the campus community through annual surveys to gather feedback about everything from printing services to technology in the classroom.

Dimension 3, Goal 8, Strategy 8: Organize Augsburg for new levels of collaboration, efficiency, and effectiveness.

—By Kate H. Elliott

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