New MSP TechHire Scholars Program

In Partnership with
Fairview Health Services and the City of Minneapolis


TechHire Scholars
Yonas Gebrekristos, Nicolas Adducci, Sara Mueller, Mohamed Sharif, Mohamed Safi Not pictured – Samira Jama

The City of Minneapolis and Fairview Health Services both identified the need to diversify the health information technology field. Funding from the City has enabled Fairview Health Services to partner with Augsburg College to create the MSP TechHire Scholars program. Augsburg students Yonas Gebrekristos, Nicolas Adducci, Sara Mueller, Mohamed Sharif, Mohamed Safi, and Samira Jama will start their semester long internships on September 19.

This partnership with Fairview and the City of Minneapolis will focus on increasing workforce diversity at Fairview and will provide access to IT jobs in the health sector to underrepresented students.

According to the Twin Cities Business Journal, 5,500 tech workers were hired in 2015 in Minnesota. Unfortunately, 20,000 openings went unfilled. With a high level of competition to hire employees with the necessarytechhire skills and education to fill tech positions and a limited amount of H1B visas to hire skilled workers from overseas, it is increasingly apparent that the Twin Cities must create new strategies for developing the future workforce. Collaborative partnerships between employers, government, and academic institutions will create a comprehensive strategy to ensure our region continues to be economically vibrant.

The Model
The pillars of the TechHire program have been carefully selected in response to the unique situation and challenge students of underrepresented communities face while in college and entering the workforce.

The four pillars are:

Students are provided a paid internship by the host organization which introduces them to the Health IT field.fairview_brand_teal

A scholarship is provided to cover the cost of credits for the internship. Scholarships alleviate the financial burden students face by reducing the amount of student loan debt and/or the need for a paid work during the school year.

Professional Development
Many of the students enrolled in this program have little-to-no professional business experience. Nor do they have guidance on how to operate in a professional workspace. Augsburg College provides students enrolled in this program workshops on interpersonal communication, professional dress, dealing with conflict, and other topics young professionals face in the workplace.

Through current programs of a similar model 23 scholars have completed 24 separate internships; 80% of scholars have been employed in fields relevant to their degrees; students that participated in this program graduated with about $10,000 less in loan debt than the average Augsburg student.

If your organization is interested in diversifying your workforce and providing opportunities for young professionals, contact Lee George at 612-330-1629 or

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Celebrates the Success of Midnimo Partnership

Earlier this month, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation published a spotlight on the Cedar Cultural Center’s Midnimo project.

Midnimo, the Somali word for “unity,” showcased Somali artists from Minnesota and around the world in residencies and events that were designed to increase the public’s understanding of Somali culture through music. The project was launched by the Cedar in 2014 in partnership with Augsburg College by way of the foundation’s Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement fund.

Below is an excerpt of the profile. Click here to read the full article.

Morning Concert 1 - Midnimo

“Over time, the relationships between the Augsburg College students, Somali community members, and visiting artists and audiences have moved forward through the arts, which Dorn calls “a stepping stone” into conversations with new and maybe still unfamiliar neighbors. In the midst of myriad misconceptions and stereotypes about Somalis, Midnimo has provided the platform for often disparate groups to connect and get to know each other in authentic ways. One student trumpeter at Augsburg was moved when a Somali musician told him that “you’re one of us now.” His experience in Midnimo, said the student, had been “the best five months of my life, being able to do this work with the Somali musicians.

The lasting effects of this program extend beyond the students and Somali musicians and into Somali cultural heritage, as well. Early on, the Augsburg Music Department had realized that to best accompany the Somali musicians, they needed to create written sheet music not present in Somali culture. This compelled the Augsburg Music Department to embark on transcribing as much of it as they could, inadvertently beginning a process of documenting and preserving Somalia’s musical tradition for generations to come.”

Photo courtesy of The Cedar Cultural Center. 

An Ethic of Stewardship

President Pribbenow at Cargill

President Pribbenow gives keynote address at Cargill’s Ethics Week

Christopher Annand, Masters of Business Administration ’09 alum and Director of Global Ethics and Compliance at Cargill, created Cargill’s Ethics Week three years ago when he first joined the organization. Each year Christopher has grown the events and programs occurring throughout the week and this year invited President Pribbenow to give the keynote address to a global audience of Cargill employees.

Cargill Ethics Week is an employee celebration facilitated by the Global Ethics and Compliance department in the month of May. For a five day period, the company provides employees a series of events, communications and reflections around Cargill’s Guiding Principles, a set of seven principles that provides the foundation for the organization and its efforts across the world. In 2016, Ethics Week featured a kickoff podcast with the Chief Compliance Officer, Marcel Smits, a special Keynote Speaker address from Augsburg College President Paul Pribbenow and even a short cartoon featuring the animated versions of Cargill’s cargill postercompliance leaders. Although the week has concluded, Cargill employees are reminded of the Guiding Principles on a regular basis, and this summer will welcome an updated version of the Code of Conduct in 22 different languages.

President Pribbenow’s presentation, Promises to Keep: An Ethic of Stewardship, challenged the audience to understand when “remarkable gifts and pressing needs meet each other” and how to create abundance in the face of increasing demand for efficiency. Both Augsburg and Cargill are celebrating their 150th anniversary, have a global impact, address food sustainability, and work at being good stewards. Annand said “President Pribbenow’s remarks on the role of ethics and stewardship in business clearly resonated with Cargill employees who understand the responsibilities we have with our communities at home and across the globe. Augsburg and Cargill have rich legacies in service and it was a great honor to have President Pribbenow share his observations and reflections with employees in Minneapolis and over 20 other countries.”

Cargill has been a champion for Augsburg’s mission by previously supporting the American Indian Scholarship Fund and the Minnesota Urban Debate League. Augsburg is proud of the Auggie alumni who have found a purposeful career path at Cargill and are striving to be great stewards of their remarkable gifts.

If you are interested in how your company can partner with Augsburg College contact Lee George, Assistant Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at

Augsburg Awarded $50,000 to Expand Recycling and Composting Program

Augsburg College Green Campus

Earlier this month, Augsburg College was awarded a $50,000 recycling grant through the Hennepin County Environment and Energy Department. The grant will help the College complete an effort, begun in early 2015, to increase the amount of organic and compostable items diverted from trash and other recycling. Funds provided by the county will be used to purchase indoor and outdoor bins, rolling carts, and signage to encourage increased recycling of organic materials as well as other mixed recyclables.

Submission of the proposal was a collaborative effort between Augsburg’s Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC), facilities and custodial staff, and the Augsburg Day Student Government’s Environmental Action Committee. This marked the first time that these three groups have worked together on a campus issue.

“Recycling is near and dear to the entire community,” said Christina Erickson, associate professor in the Department of Social Work and program director in Environmental Studies. “And, yet, it’s surprisingly hard to do well. Bins and signage are an important component of helping this process along, but they are also extremely expensive. This grant allows us to think through this process and make purchases that will work for the entire campus community.”

In 2015, Augsburg’s Custodial Services department converted all paper towels to a compostable and more sustainably manufactured option. It also began using bath tissues made from non-tree fibers containing 65% recycled fiber content. The coreless 100% solid tissue rolls create less waste and reduce transportation costs.

With this grant, custodial staff will install new interior and exterior bins across campus, post new signage, and place specialty containers across campus to collect used batteries, plastic bags, and small electronics.

Michelle Nies, custodial services manager, noted that her team will share information on the expanded program with all current and incoming students, as well as their parents, so they can incorporate recycling and composting into their campus homes.

The ESC since 1999 has guided Augsburg’s efforts to integrate environmental stewardship into all aspects of campus life. Comprised of students, faculty, and staff, the ESC engages in various projects and outreach initiatives including curriculum review, workshops, transit fairs, energy and waste audits, lectures, green purchasing audits, and more.

The grant furthers the Augsburg 2019 strategic plan which outlines a commitment to be “Green by 2019”. In September of 2010, a task force submitted a climate action plan for Augsburg’s Minneapolis campus to reduce carbon output by 2019, the year of its sesquicentennial.

The Student Government’s Environmental Action Committee voted in March to provide the necessary contribution of matching funds required to secure the county grant. Erickson was grateful that students embraced the idea and took an active interest in the proposal. Committee members also will carry out volunteer-led projects and campaigns to educate Augsburg’s undergraduate and residential population about the expanded organics program.

Amber Lewis, a graduate student in the Education department and an Environmental Stewardship Fellow, is hopeful that the grant will increase recycling in three high-traffic areas of campus: Si Melby Hall and Kennedy Center; Event and Conference Planning; and the various residence halls.

“From commencement ceremonies and sporting events to convocations and conferences, thousands of people touch the campus in some way during the course of one year,” Lewis said. “Sustainability is something that Augsburg wants to present as a central characteristic of our diverse body of students, faculty, and staff. It’s important to all of us that anyone who visits our campus has access to recycling and composting. This grant has provided us with the funding necessary to see that vision move forward.”

“There is a growing awareness of the need for sustainable living among those who spend their days and nights on this campus,” said Nicholas Stewart-Bloch ’17, who leads the student Environmental Action Committee. “Much of this is manifested in small decisions such as recycling or using public transportation. There is still much work to be done to fully consider all the various ways in which we affect our environment, but there is a growing interest among students in helping reduce our carbon footprint.”

To learn more, please visit the Environmental Stewardship Committee website.


Augsburg College


Wednesday, May 18 at Augsburg College

Join fellow professionals and business leaders in a day of leadership and intercultural competency development. The 2016 Leadership Summit offers two morning sessions to develop you as a leader and understand how you handle conflict and manage a team. These sessions are followed by a networking and a presentation by Jodi Harpstead, CEO of Lutheran Social Services.

Morning Sessions

Professor of Leadership Studies, Tom Morgan, will lead you through the Input Output Processing template and facilitate a discussion on strategy development and decision-making. In this session you will learn about how individual team members take in information and how they act on it.

Chief Diversity Officer at Augsburg College, Joanne Reeck, will walk you through the Intercultural Conflict Styles Inventory Workshop. This workshop is designed to help individuals continue to grow in the intercultural competence and to build the awareness, knowledge, and skills necessary to create more inclusive spaces in the workplace and beyond.


Jodi Harpstead, CEO of Lutheran Social Services presents 150 years of Learning to Live Together – Midway in our Journey?

Prior to serving as Lutheran Social Services CEO, Jodi spent 23 years with Medtronic, Inc where she held significant positions including President of Global Marketing and U.S. Sales in the Cardiac Rhythm Management Division. An exceptional leader, she has volunteered in leadership capacities for a variety of other organizations. Her perspective and insights on compassion and competence to make a difference help serve the connection between the business and nonprofit sectors of Minnesota’s economy.

Register Here

This event is part of the Midway Chamber of Commerce events and programs.


Member Pricing
$35 for session or luncheon ONLY
$50 for summit and luncheonNon Member Pricing
$50 for session or luncheon ONLY
$75 for summit and luncheon


Date/Time Information:
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Leadership Workshop Location: Oren Gateway Center
8:30 AM – 9 AM- Registration for Leadership Workshop
9 AM – 11 AM- Leadership Workshop
Luncheon Location: Foss Center
11:30 AM – Noon- Registration & Networking for Luncheon
Noon- 1 PM – Luncheon featuring Jodi Harpstead, CEO of Lutheran Social Services

Students at the Capitol

Pictured left to right: Madison Wedan, BK Kormah, Jordan Parshall, Reies Romero
Pictured left to right: Madison Wedan, BK Kormah, Jordan Parshall, Reies Romero

Augsburg College Student Government representatives spent a Day at the Capitol advocating with legislators to defend the Minnesota State Grant

The State Grant program helps students afford to attend the colleges in Minnesota that best fit their needs. The State Grant targets low- and middle-income families with the greatest need; fosters student choice; has statewide impact; holds down additional borrowing and extra hours at part-time jobs; invests in the state’s human capital and future economy.

Augsburg had 972 State Grant recipients on campus last academic year. That was 34 percent of all Augsburg undergraduates. Students Jordan Parshall, BK Kormah, Madison Wedan and Reies

Madison Wedan meets with Representative Drew Christensen to advocate for the Minnesota State Grant.
Madison Wedan meets with Representative Drew Christensen to advocate for the Minnesota State Grant.

Romero assisted in defending the $4 million in State Grant awards that are made to Augsburg students.

Two of the students are seasoned advocates and have been at the Capitol numerous times to advocate for different issues. The other two students had never participated in advocacy in this way. They were surprised by the access to politicians, the fact that you can sit down in their office and have a conversation about an important topic, and that a number of the legislators wanted to hear from them more often. Encouragement for the students to be engaged by voting and contacting the legislator regularly was heard multiple times from representatives and senators, Democrats and Republicans.

To learn more about how you can be an advocate for the Minnesota State Grant visit the Minnesota Private College Council site.


Senator John Marty spoke with students from Augsburg and Hamline about his concerns around student debt.
Senator John Marty spoke with students from Augsburg and Hamline about his concerns around student debt.


Corporate Sponsors Help Make Scholarship Weekend a Success

Burton - Students

Twin Cities PBS, Wells Fargo, Mall of America, Beckman Coulter, and Lerner Publishing joined forces to present a matinee appearance by actor, director, and educator, LeVar Burton, best known as the host and producer of Reading Rainbow.

Scholarship Weekend is an annual event during which bright students from around the country visit campus to compete for Augsburg’s top scholarships. Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, prospective students met with their future classmates and professors, explored labs and classrooms, and got a brief taste of life as an Auggie.

In his opening remarks, President Paul Pribbenow thanked the sponsors for making it possible for over 500 high school students to attend a special appearance by Mr. Burton.

In an hour-long address, Burton covered a wide range of topics ranging from literacy and technology to youth development and mentorship. Burton urged attendees to consider the role of reading and creativity in the process of innovation and career development. He also quoted Jazz singer Dianne Reeves, saying “Be Still. Stand in love. And pay attention.”

In addition to attending Burton’s keynote address, sponsor representatives also took part in a special VIP Educator’s Brunch, toured a student research poster show, and learned about Augsburg’s River Semester – the nation’s first ever college semester taught entirely on the Mississippi River.

To learn about other sponsorship opportunities at Augsburg College, please contact Jay Peterson, Assistant Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, at 612 330-1592.

Youth Theology Institute Receives Nearly $500,000 from Lilly Endowment

The Augsburg College Youth Theology Institute (ACYTI) will enter its 13th year with a huge boost from the Lilly Endowment.

This month, Augsburg received a grant of $476,188 to bolster its summer Youth Theology Institute. The award is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s High School Youth Theology Institutelily-logos initiative, which seeks to encourage young people to explore theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues, and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service.

“This grant supports Augsburg’s continued commitment to intentional diversity and to modeling what it means to be a Lutheran college of the 21st century, located in the heart of one of the nation’s most diverse zip codes,” said Augsburg College President Paul Pribbenow.

“It equips young people with theological and vocational skills and helps them learn what it means to practice their faith, with its commitments to education, radical hospitality and serving your neighbor.”

Each summer, ACYTI gathers rising 10th, 11th and 12th graders and recent graduates for an intense week of friendship, classroom learning, worship, solitude, contemplation, discernment, and action on Augsburg’s urban campus. Participants, mentors, instructors, and program staff learn together, pray together, play together, explore the city together, and discern God’s work in the world together.

Since its inception in 2004, the program has been designed to carry out a theme that’s germane not only to the Augsburg’s mission, but also to key topics in current events. Augsburg’s emphasis on interdisciplinary learning shaped the 2013 Institute, titled “Navigating the Intersection of Science and Theology,” and the 2014 Institute, titled “Christian Community in the Internet Age.” Likewise, the 2012 Institute, “Stories Worth Living: Exploring Lives of Interfaith Action,” was very much reflective of the college’s setting in a largely Muslim neighborhood, as well as its growing diversity.

Over the course of the year following the Institute, Augsburg faculty and staff will provide ongoing guidance and support so that students can better engage with the themes of the Institute at home, in school, in church, and in their community. In doing so, the Institute hopes to provide students with a more thorough and more thoughtful exploration of opportunities for leadership in those settings.

“We pack a lot into one week,” said Jeremy Myers, ACYTI’s Program Director, “but we have found there to be a significant need for more frequent communication with participants and families as well as with their pastors and/or youth ministers.”

In its expansion, the ACYTI will be carrying out part of an institutional strategy to enhance Augsburg’s connections to congregations. The ACYTI will first focus on outreach to the four designated ELCA synods that form Augsburg’s governing structure—Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Southeastern Minnesota, and Northwest Wisconsin, but also plans to build stronger ties to specific congregations in the Twin Cities metro area and beyond.

The program hopes to increase attendance to 20 students in 2016, 30 in 2017, 35 in 2018, and 40 by 2019. The college will continue to provide a scholarship of $1,000 per year, per student, for up to four years, for those who wish to enroll at Augsburg.

The 2016 ACYTI will take place June 19-24, 2016 on the campus of Augsburg College. The Institute will be directed by Dr. Jeremy Myers. Dr. Myers is associate professor of religion in the Youth and Family Ministry department. Justin Lind-Ayres, Augsburg’s Associate College Pastor, will lead worships and other leadership exercises. Lonna Field, Program Coordinator for the Christensen Center for Vocation, will continue serving as the Institute’s primary coordinator.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company.

To learn more, please visit the ACYTI website.

U.S. Bank Veterans’ Lounge Continues to Bring Auggie Vets Together

A year after it opened, the U.S. Bank Veterans’ Lounge continues to be an important part of the educational journey of Augsburg student vets and has become a quiet respite for the College’s community of veterans.

“Many of our students are commuters, here for long days and on evenings and weekends, so the lounge becomes ‘home base’ when they are on campus,” said Lori York, Augsburg’s School Certifying Official. York also serves as liaison between current and prospective students and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dave Adams, a student in Augsburg’s Masters of Business Administration program, is grateful for the camaraderie and comfort the lounge provides.

“My crew, the group of four who all came together from the same National Guard unit, love the lounge,” Adams said. “It gives us a great place to meet before class and compare notes, as well as a quiet place to go when we have small group breakout sessions.”

Adams also acknowledged his appreciation for the treats–gifts from Augsburg staff members–that often appear in the lounge.

“I was truly dragging when I got to school yesterday. Walking into the lounge to meet the other guys and seeing cookies was just a nice surprise and a simple touch, but it did make a difference in the night.”

But the U.S. Bank Veterans’ Lounge, located in the Oren Gateway Center, is more than just a getaway. It’s also come to represent the connections and community of veterans who are all pursuing their next call.

“When I drop in at the Veterans’ Lounge, I see students meeting each other, sharing their past experiences,” said York. “Today when I stopped by, a student who is in his last semester here was greeting a new student and welcoming him to campus. They immediately jumped into a conversation about their time in the military, where they’ve served, when they got out. These students gravitate toward one another and they gravitate toward the lounge to find their comrades. The lounge is key to building and keeping this community at Augsburg.”

The connection between student vets and U.S. Bank, recognized as a top corporate supporter of veterans and military families, doesn’t end there.

Andy Norgard, pictured above (rear), is one of several Auggies to complete internships at U.S. Bank in recent years. A former member of the Marine Corps and Augsburg’s Student Veteran Representative, Norgard completed a Financial Analyst internship at U.S. Bank last summer and has recently been offered a job at McGladrey, one of the nation’s top accounting firms.

For the second consecutive year, Augsburg was named a Military Friendly® School, a list which is compiled through extensive research and a free, data-driven survey of more than 10,000 VA-approved schools nationwide. Military Friendly Schools have gone above and beyond to provide transitioning veterans the best possible experience in higher education. As of fall 2015, there were nearly 120 active members and military veterans attending Augsburg, a notable number for an institution of Augsburg’s size. The College graduated more than 20 military veterans this past spring and summer.

We are proud to partner with U.S. Bank in its continued support of veterans in both higher education and business.