Augsburg is a vibrant and diverse learning community, intentionally reflective of a complex, interconnected world.

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

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

Faculty and staff commit to increasing intercultural competence

Augsburg is an intentionally diverse and inclusive campus community, located in the most diverse ZIP code between Chicago and Los Angeles. Nurturing that vibrant learning environment—reflective of our complex and interconnected world—takes passion, vigilance, and innovation, three qualities that define Joanne Reeck. Appointed chief diversity officer in January, the St. Paul native is digging into the issues and developing workshops and programs to strengthen intercultural understanding.

“Our most important job as an institution is to work toward a learning environment where all of our students are able to bring forward their full selves,” said Reeck, who has served as Augsburg’s director of campus activities and orientation since 2008. “As such, faculty and staff need to not only work effectively across the cultural commonalities they share with students, but also across the cultural differences they do not share. When faculty and staff are able to effectively do this, the environment will naturally become one that allows all students to show up as their authentic selves and to more fully engage as learners.”

Increasing the intercultural competency of faculty and staff has been among the top three concerns of students in the 2004, 2007, and 2014 Student Inclusion Assessments, Reeck said. As a result, she created and implemented Augsburg’s first Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program, which launched the first day of fall semester. Fifty-eight faculty and staff members have signed up for the Certificate Program to date, with an average of 22 attendees at each of the 12 workshops that have taken place to date.

Faculty and staff may sign up for any number of diversity and inclusion workshops offered through Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, but each person must complete the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Process and six workshops to complete the certificate program. Of the required workshops, three are new: Creating Inclusive Spaces, All About Bias, and From Microinequities to Inclusion. Reeck redesigned the layout for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Process and the Intercultural Conflict Styles (ICS) Inventory Workshop. Michael Grewe ’12 MSW, director of LGBTQIA student services, designed Ally Training I and Kathy McGillivray, director of CLASS Disability Services, developed Disability as Diversity: Building Bridges to Full Inclusion.

“Once people attend one workshop, they seem to be hooked,” Reeck said. “It’s encouraging to see how many Augsburg faculty and staff members are pursuing these opportunities to grow their understanding of the many different communities around them. Most importantly however, is what we all do to help foster an understanding, supportive community of lifelong learners.”

Dimension 2, Goal 4, Strategy 4: Shape and strengthen our learning community.

—by Kate Elliott

Auggie plan offers pathway to engage and enroll key
student population

In late May, officials from Augsburg College and Minneapolis Community and Technical College launched the Auggie Plan, a guaranteed pathway to a four-year degree for students whose academic achievement at MCTC helps prepare them for success at the bachelor’s degree level.

The Auggie Plan offers qualified students efficient and affordable tracks in their coursework by ensuring that the credits earned in a range of liberal arts classes at MCTC satisfy all first- and second-year general education requirements at Augsburg. In addition to mapping out the coursework needed at the institutions, the Auggie Plan gives students the opportunity to access advising support at both colleges during their entire term of study. Because students on the Auggie Plan enter Augsburg at the junior level, many will qualify for scholarships making it possible to earn a four-year private college degree with needs-based grants, manageable student loans, and minimal out-of-pocket costs for tuition.

For Augsburg, the Auggie Plan is an enrollment partnership that enhances the College’s prospective student pipeline and leverages the strengths of its enrollment management and student advising teams. Likewise, Augsburg College faculty play an important role in the Auggie Plan by engaging MCTC students through short seminars called Coffee Talks and prompting students to develop a relationship with Augsburg early on in their studies.

“The Coffee Talks are crucial in that they create intentional connections between MCTC students and Augsburg,” said Ron Blankenship, director of Augsburg’s Adult Undergraduate program.

And, the institutions complement one another naturally. Both MCTC and Augsburg are located in the heart of Minneapolis, provide services to help all students achieve college success, value intentional diversity, and are committed to developing future leaders.

In the media

Just after the program launch, Minnesota Public Radio included comments from Amy Strohmeier Gort, Augsburg’s dean of arts and sciences, in the story, “MCTC students receive clear ticket to Augsburg College.” One of the program benefits Strohmeier Gort mentioned is that Auggie Plan students could have more enjoyable experiences after arriving at Augsburg considering that they won’t need to spend time taking extra courses because some credits did not transfer.

“They will have the opportunity and the time to really engage in their major [and] to consider minors,” Strohmeier Gort said. “They’ll have time to do things on campus.”

The article also noted that while transfer agreements and partnerships already exist among some private and public campuses in the state, the Auggie Plan is unusual because it doesn’t lock students into a major early on. Instead, the Auggie Plan aims to provide an affordable four-year degree pathway to students who might not have seen themselves as college material but who have high potential for success.

Visit the Auggie Plan website to learn more.

Dimension 2, Goal 4, Strategy 4: Shape and strengthen our learning community.