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

Augsburg stands against Islamophobia

In response to a rise in harassment and hateful rhetoric against Muslims in our national discourse, Augsburg is committed to fighting discrimination with a mission of inclusivity, hope, and understanding.

In December, the faculty senate passed a resolution in support of Muslim students, colleagues, and neighbors, stating that inflammatory claims and fear mongering in the public discourse undermines the nation’s fight against terrorism and poisons our communities with distrust and fear.

The resolution concludes: “Therefore, the Augsburg College faculty stands resolved that: statements of prejudice and hate against the Faith of Islam should be condemned and vocally opposed, and moreover, we express our deep support, love and friendship for the Muslim members of our campus, community, and world.”

In response to the resolution, President Paul Pribbenow sent an email to the campus community commending the faculty and acknowledging the work of students, faculty, and staff to support justice, dignity, and hospitality.

The president also signed on to support the “UnMinnesotan” campaign, led by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress. The effort urges citizens, who “know better than to be silent or still in the face of bigotry,” to come together as a diverse and vibrant community and “lead people to a place of tolerance and understanding.” Legislators and business leaders, including the CEOs of General Mills, Cargill, and Best Buy, also publicly support the campaign.

Hands-on learning ignites appreciation of cultural differences

True to its mission, Augsburg is committed in both word and deed. Throughout campus, faculty and staff have created spaces for open—sometimes difficult—discourse and have facilitated partnerships to advance interfaith collaborations.

Assistant professor Marc Isaacson engaged his Management Information Systems (MIS) course in an experiential learning opportunity to assist the Sisterhood Boutique, a second-hand clothing store and youth social entrepreneurship program developed by young women, a majority of East African descent, living in our Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

“When we created the E-Commerce course several years back, one of our goals was to implement a hands-on project with a local community partner,” said Isaacson, who has taught at Augsburg for 17 years. “Then I heard about the work of the Sisterhood Boutique from one of my advisees, who helped in the founding of the store, and I knew there was an opportunity to blend the new knowledge and skills of these MIS students with the real-world context of life and business in our neighborhood.”

Isaacson’s students guided the boutique through website enhancements as well as social media and video strategies to expand the store’s reach and fundraising capacity. But, more importantly, the students taught and empowered the women how to continue to support those platforms to grow the business.

“For the students, this was an opportunity to take the knowledge they learned from the textbook and the course and put it into action,” he said. “Having a community partner from the neighborhood made the experience of consulting for a client that much more real. They not only had to deliver a final project but also interacted with the staff of the Sisterhood Boutique through analysis and project development.”

Beyond professional, real-world experience, Isaacson said his students gained an appreciation of cultural differences. Augsburg’s support of intercultural, interfaith community partnerships, he added, nurtures global citizens driven to consider and explore different ideas and perspectives, enriching their lives and adding value to our world in the process.

Dimension 2, Goal 4, Strategy 4: Augsburg is a vibrant and diverse learning community, intentionally reflective of a complex, interconnected world.

—By Kate H. Elliott

Inspiring tomorrow’s leaders

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers publishes a list of top qualities employers seek in new college hires. Sandwiched between “team player” and “communication skills” is a classic—“leadership.” But the seemingly straightforward, familiar concept is actually quite elusive.

To help incoming students grasp the admired—but complex—quality, Campus Activities and Orientation created the Emerging Leaders Program in 2007. During orientation each fall, co-instructors Michael Grewe and Joanne Reeck invite first-year and transfer students to apply for the 11-week program that empowers students to develop and apply their leadership skills to connect with and engage in the Augsburg and greater communities.

“The program is incredibly important to the campus community, as we are providing incoming students an opportunity to grow and nurture their leadership skills—encouraging them to understand what drives them,” said Grewe, who had led the effort with Reeck since 2012. “The program, which serves about 50 students each year, has also realized pipelines for leadership opportunities both on and off campus.”

Grewe said weekly gatherings create space to discuss ethics, conflict, personal identity, power and privilege. The group settings allow new faces to meet others interested in sharpening their leadership skills.

“It’s always an inspiring blend of both students with leadership experience and those who are just beginning to see themselves as leaders,” said Grewe, assistant director of Campus Activities and Orientation “Many of our students become impactful campus leaders as resident advisers, orientation or AugSem leaders, and officers of campus organizations.”

Participants also meet with peer leaders four times that first semester at Augsburg. These one-on-one sessions build upon and personalize concepts presented during the weekly class.

“Discussions with peer leaders are key to participants’ personal growth, as they challenge students to reflect on class concepts in their own lives,” Grewe said. “Peers also help connect students with opportunities that align with their passions and interests.”

Tools such as StrengthsFinder and the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator help provide students with insight and focus on strengths rather than weaknesses.

More information, including applications for fall 2016 (available in the summer) can be found at Campus Activities and Orientation.

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

—By Kate H. Elliott

External funding elevates Augsburg’s reputation and reach

Get ready for some numbers: Since the start of the fall semester, Augsburg faculty and staff have won nearly $3 million in new grant awards, submitted more than 14 new grants, and continue work on 35 projects worth a total of $9.6 million.

This pace of external funding for the college is unprecedented, and the outcomes of this important work elevate Augsburg’s reach and reputation. Championing this effort is Erica Swift, director of Sponsored Programs, who recently received a grant to foster the development and submission of innovative grant proposals to, for instance, support student scholarships or create diverse, pioneering learning and research. The grant—Augsburg2019 Innovation Fund—was supported by the president’s office.

Get ready for some more numbers: To date, Swift’s Innovation Grant has awarded eight writing stipends to faculty investigators in five disciplines—biology, history, mathematics, physics, and STEM programs. The proposals, requesting a total of $4.3 million, have been submitted to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Minnesota Historical Society, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The best part—if funded, these projects would support 12,460 hours of paid research experience and $678,400 in scholarships for undergraduate students.

“The Innovation Grant is important because it is helping us broaden participation throughout the College as well as recognize and support faculty driven to enrich the learning environment for our students and contribute to their respective field,” said Swift, who has worked at Augsburg for three years. “Grants are intimidating. It takes about 116 hours to write a grant, and collaborating investigators spend an additional 55 hours per proposal. You send it off and likely get rejected your first and second time [the average grant proposal success rate is less than 20 percent]. You make revisions, then resubmit, likely to get another rejection. But this process builds experience until you are successful. And when that success comes, it’s amazing.”

Sponsored Program’s efforts to inspire faculty grant submissions is thriving within a verdant culture of student research, Swift said. Augsburg is investing in infrastructure to stimulate innovation and collaboration. Consider the Office of Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity (URGO), which connects students with new and existing research and scholarship on campus and beyond, including positions at Harvard and the Mayo Clinic. And, of course, there’s the $50 million Norman and Evangeline Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, which will further foster undergraduate research efforts and interdisciplinary experiential learning when it opens in 2018.

“The college is laying groundwork at the same time as established faculty have begun to pass the baton, of sorts, to collaborate with or advise new faculty through the grant process,” Swift said. “Instead of faculty members thinking they can’t achieve the success of those before them, they feel empowered to jump into the process.”

And when they do, Swift is there, providing one-on-one support from proposal development and submission to award set up and management. She walks investigators through closeout and assists in preparation for the next grant. Each grant, no matter the amount, receives the same level of attention.

“You might think our office pays more attention to the million-dollar grants, but $5,000 grants often take the same amount of work, and the efforts of those faculty are just as important,” Swift said. “Besides, those $5,000 grants often beget larger awards. Each submission is a success because it is one step closer to an award; and each award, no matter how small, is a success because it encourages faculty and advances Augsburg’s reputation for discovery and excellence.”

A small but mighty community

The perseverance and success of Augsburg faculty is particularly notable given competition with major research universities for a shrinking pool of federal funding. Faculty continue to develop partnerships and create solutions to submit relevant and compelling proposals.

“Our faculty have proven, time and time again, that you can be small but mighty,” Swift said. “Augsburg has secured some major grant awards, doing—sometimes—what no one else in the world is doing. And yet, those faculty would never boast about their successes. That’s why I love my job—I get to share their good, impactful work.”

Read about some of Augsburg’s latest grant awards and learn more about the process on the Sponsored Programs website.

Dimension 3, Goal 9, Strategy 9: Augsburg is a sustainable and vital force for educating future generations.

—by Kate Elliott

MLK event urges students to “be the change in their communities”

Augsburg’s Hoversten Chapel was filled to capacity as Student Body President Duina Hernandez ’16 welcomed a mosaic of faces—students and community members—to the 29th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation. What followed was a harmonious fusion of rhythmic movements and layered voices that ascended to keynote speaker Chuck D of rap group Public Enemy. The author and political activist presented “Race, Rap, and Reality: Supporting Our Youth in the Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as They Face the Unique Challenges of Today.”

Mohamed Sallam, director of the Pan-Afrikan Center, provided an opportunity for students to imagine the event in hopes of advancing a contemporary understanding of King’s legacy of equality, service, and peace. Conversations that have continued since the convocation, Sallam said, reflect Augsburg’s celebration of diversity and commitment to speaking out against injustice.

“Our passionate students put on a wonderful event that has continued to spark discussions on campus about race and equality,” said Sallam, who has guided the center for 10 years. “They are continuing MLK’s work by educating themselves and doing what they can to influence the social and political climate in which we live. Chuck D inspired us all to be the change in our own neighborhoods, and we’ve heard and seen students and faculty working to do just that.”

Auggies lead the charge toward peace

The program occurred during a “difficult time in our nation,” Sallam said. In December, the United States marked 150 years since ratification of the U.S. Constitution’s 13th amendment, declaring slavery illegal. Yet national headlines about ingrained racism, Sallam said, signal the need for renewed discussion and engagement about our “unfinished work toward equality.”

“We’re facing major challenges and complexities in our day, particularly when it comes to policing in communities of color,” he added. “And because of Augsburg’s inclusive culture, I think it’s easy to feel like it can’t happen here. But the Jamar Clark shooting last year in Minneapolis showed us that we need to be a part of the broad social movement toward progress.”

The event wasn’t focused solely on the black or African-American experience, Sallam stressed. Students of many nations and races collaborated to ensure issues of injustice facing other countries and all people remain a part of the discourse.

“Our students are passionate about shining a light on those injustices throughout the world, and they are leading the charge toward peace,” he said.

During the program, students expressed their anger, pain, and hope through art—spoken word, dance, instrumental music. Sallam said his role is not to temper students’ enthusiasm, but to encourage them to direct their passion into education and thoughtful, appropriate discussion and action.

“Students can be very ambitious about what ought to happen, so I help them identify creative ways to engage and galvanize the community to be a more just place to live,” Sallam said. “I remind them that they are college students first, and that achieving in their field can advance the cause by putting them in a position to develop a network of educated, engaged people to create positive change in our world.”

The MLK Convocation is part of the Augsburg Convocation Series, an annual lineup of speakers who encourage the campus community to consider the power of vision in a world of tension. 

Dimension 2, Goal 6, Strategy 6: Publicly advance core commitments.

—by Kate Elliott

College recognized for commitment to inclusivity and evidence of radical hospitality

Augsburg College has been nationally recognized for welcoming and supporting a wide range of students. These awards are a testament to the College’s commitment to intentional diversity in its life and work and evidence of our radical hospitality.

  • Augsburg College received the 2015 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine based upon the College’s commitment to intentional diversity and the level of student engagement and activism.
  • Augsburg was listed sixth of 50 institutions on a list of 2015 Rankings of the Best Christian Colleges and Universities published by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA based on academic reputation, financial aid offerings, overall cost, and success of graduates in the post-college job market.
  • For the second time since 2013, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society’s Winds of Change magazine selected Augsburg as one of the Top 200 Schools for Native Americans for the College’s American Indian support community and graduation rates.
  • College Magazine named Augsburg the No. 5 Most Transgender-Friendly College in the country for working to make campus feel like home for transgender students and for offering comfort, safety, and freedom to all students.
  • Again this year, Augsburg was one of five finalists named to the prestigious 2015 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction in the interfaith and community service category. Augsburg is the only college or university in the U.S. to be named as a finalist in both 2014 and 2015.
  • Augsburg was named a 2016 Military Friendly® School for going above and beyond to provide transitioning veterans the best possible experience in higher education.

Dimension 2, Goal 4, Strategy 4: Augsburg is a vibrant and diverse learning community, intentionally reflective of a complex, interconnected world.

Celebrating inclusion: Augsburg continues to remove barriers for undocumented students

They are future doctors, engineers, psychologists, and educators. They work—often two jobs—to pay for school. They participate in clubs and make lasting friendships, just like their peers.

The difference?

They are among the nation’s 6,500 undocumented students—children born abroad who are not U.S. citizens or legal residents. In their lives, most every interaction, application, and career aspiration often involves some level of fear and uncertainty.

For these students—eager for higher education—Augsburg, with its commitment to intentional diversity, has become a refuge. Since 2007, the college has worked with and for undocumented students, inviting them to apply and supporting them throughout their time on campus and beyond. Dulce Monterrubio, director of Latin@ Student Services, said the campus continues to bolster its financial assistance and support of the undocumented population, currently more than 50 students.

“These are some of the most hard-working students I’ve ever met, and they are navigating college without any access to federal assistance and often with significant stress about their future and their family,” said Monterrubio, who has served as director since 2014. “It’s been inspiring to see this campus come together … helping [these students] achieve their dreams and contribute to society.”

Augsburg has experienced an increase in its undocumented population since 2012, when the federal government announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides temporary relief from deportation for eligible undocumented young adults, as well as renewable two-year work permits. In November 2015, President Barack Obama announced an expansion of the DACA program to cover older undocumented people who did not meet the 2012 age restriction and cut-off date.

Increasing aid and support

Monterrubio said admission to Augsburg is based solely on academic achievement and potential, so undocumented students do not receive any special treatment. And although these students are not eligible for federal financial aid, they are eligible for in-state tuition rates through the MN Dream Act, passed in 2013. Augsburg also provides financial assistance to incoming first-year and transfer undocumented students pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

“We’ve had students who didn’t know they were undocumented until they started applying for college because their parents were scared or wanted to protect them,” said Monterrubio, who has been at Augsburg since coming to campus from Mexico as an international student in 2000. “Imagine adding that stress on top of an already stressful time of applying for and transitioning to college. But many of them are surprisingly resilient and starting to feel more comfortable to advocate for themselves and educate our campus and community.”

Educating allies on campus

In spring 2016, students will partner with Latin@ Student Services to offer an ally training program to continue to build a network of understanding and support among faculty, staff, and students. Monterrubio said many faculty members, in particular, have expressed interest in learning more about the issue and services available to undocumented students.

The campus has also pledged to participate on April 7, 2016, in National Institutions Coming Out Day, which celebrates undocu-friendly campuses. This community of universities shares best practices to help reduce barriers for these students.

“Augsburg has been on the forefront of this movement to recognize and celebrate the positive impact these students, given the chance, have on our society,” Monterrubio said. “We look forward to continuing to help undocumented students get the most out of their college experience.”

Dimension 2, Goal 4, Strategy 4: Increase our effectiveness in diversity and inclusion across all programs.

—By Kate Elliott

New learning outcomes strengthen curricular ties to mission

Revised learning outcomes ensure performance matches expectations

We live in an age of accountability, which can at times feel uncomfortable and constraining. But assistant professor Kristen Chamberlain embraces assessment. Augsburg is a community of reflective individuals striving for meaningful work, Chamberlain says, and evaluation is crucial to articulating our values and determining whether performance matches expectations.

As director of assessment, Chamberlain is leading a team of 12 faculty and staff charged with strengthening the college’s methods for gathering, analyzing, and interpreting evidence to ensure Augsburg is living out its mission to cultivate informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders.

“Outcomes provide ways for us to concretely assess if Augsburg’s educational experience is fulfilling the mission,” says Chamberlain, assistant professor of communication studies. “Each student learning outcome is connected to one of the educational goals listed in our mission statement.”

More emphasis on evaluations, timelines

The Assessment Committee’s work builds upon Augsburg’s past work in the area. This most recent evolution began in September 2013, after a team of faculty participated in a Higher Learning Commission Assessment Workshop to refine the existing system to place more weight on faculty evaluations of students and to specify timelines for review, recommendations, and change implementation.

During the 2013-14 academic year, the campus collected faculty evaluations of students’ critical thinking and writing skills. Faculty also engaged in conversations that resulted in the development of the Undergraduate Student Learning Outcomes, which Augsburg faculty approved in December 2014.

The following year, the campus collected faculty evaluations of students’ oral communication and quantitative reasoning skills. On a three-year assessment cycle, the 2015-16 academic year will focus on data analysis followed by recommendations for change. Any improvements will be discussed and set into motion the following year.

Clear, actionable directives

Assessment committee member Amy Gort, dean of arts and sciences, says the revised co-curricular learning outcomes—with clear, actionable directives—have been well received throughout campus. The outcomes are divided into seven categories:

  • Cognitive complexity
  • Knowledge, acquisition, integration and application
  • Humanism
  • Civic engagement
  • Interpersonal and intrapersonal competence
  • Practical competence
  • Persistence and academic achievement

“We are always looking for ways to improve, even within the assessment process,” Gort says. “One example is that in the first two years we asked faculty to score the work of students in their own courses. Starting this year, we are asking faculty to submit student work for scoring by a team of faculty who will be specially trained.  We think this will encourage faculty engagement in this work and make the scores more reliable.”

Responding to data, strengthening the future

Throughout each stage of the process, the assessment committee works to inform the campus community about their work—from detailed reports to recommendations. This year, faculty and staff are collaborating to respond to themes that emerged from the critical thinking and writing data collected in 2013-14. Chamberlain shares two outcomes from these interdepartmental collaborations:

  • To strengthen writing across the curriculum, the Center for Teaching and Learning is working with Jacqui deVries, director of general education, to create professional development workshops for faculty.
  • deVries is also working with department chairs to develop signature assignments or projects to better assess critical thinking and writing skills across the board.

“The Assessment Committee is continually engaged in discussions about how to improve our assessment process,” Chamberlain says. “We are excited about bringing concrete, relevant data back to the faculty community. In many ways, this data validates the excellent work of our faculty and students. The assessment work will also help us further strengthen our curriculum and ensure that every Augsburg student receives a Mission-driven education.”

Dimension 1, Goal 3, Strategy 3: Strengthen our assessment practices across all programs.

—by Kate Elliott