Sponsors Help Build Interest in STEM Majors and Meet Bill Nye Too!

Beckman and Bill

Bill Nye made a special Valentine’s Day appearance at Augsburg College to proclaim his love for science.

Known to most of us for his television program Bill Nye “The Science Guy”, for which he has won 18 Emmy awards, Nye now has a day job as the CEO of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest non-governmental space interest organization. He is the author of many books for young readers, as well as the recent bestseller Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. 

Nye, one of the world’s most sought after speakers on the topic of climate change and the environment, was invited to campus to urge young people to pursue STEM disciplines and to use science to change the world.

The event was part of Scholarship Weekend, a time when bright students from around the country visit campus to vie for the institution’s top scholarships.  Saturday morning’s activities, which also included a VIP breakfast and a student research poster show, was sponsored by Beckman Coulter, Lerner Publishing, and Microsoft.

In his opening address, President Paul Pribbenow thanked the sponsors for making it possible for over 700 high school students with an interest in the STEM fields to visit campus and attend Nye’s keynote presentation. The total attendance for the sold-out event was nearly 2,000.

“The young people in this room,” continued Pribbenow, “both current students and prospective ones, are here because they believe that science can save the world, and that through scientific experiment and experiential education they themselves can save the world.”

Thanks to Beckman Coulter, Lerner Publishing, and Microsoft for being a part of this amazing event!

Click here to WCCO (CBS) coverage of the event.

Family Foundations Renew their Support of StepUP Program

StepUp Meeting

We are grateful to the Trillium Family Foundation and the C. Charles Jackson Foundation for their renewed support of the StepUP Program. Founded in 1997, the StepUP program strives to help Augsburg students champion lives of recovery, achieve academic success, and thrive in a residential community of accountability and support. The program has 82 current enrollees and 658 alumni.

With over half of the 200 residential collegiate recovery program beds in the country, StepUP is in a unique position to lead and to grow. With the generosity of these two foundations, StepUP aims to increase its capacity, enroll more students, and provide new ways for students to strengthen their leadership skills.

Since there is no additional cost for Augsburg students to participate in the program, StepUP relies on philanthropic contributions from individuals, corporate foundations, and family foundations to provide a staff of experienced, knowledgeable, licensed counselors, as well as leadership programming and other events throughout the year.

To learn more, visit StepUP’s website.

Wells Fargo makes $100,000 gift to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion

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In recognition of Augsburg College’s leadership in closing the higher education disparity gap for students of color in Minnesota, Wells Fargo has made a gift of $100,000 to the campaign to build the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR).

Wells Fargo joins several other corporations (including U.S. Bank, 3M, and General Mills) in supporting the CSBR.

In a statement, Dave Kvamme, CEO of Wells Fargo Minnesota, expressed admiration for Augsburg’s commitment to partnering with College Access programs like College Possible to help recruit, support, and retain first-generation and low-income students.

“We support Augsburg College’s commitment to provide opportunities for a college education for those students who may face life challenges to attain it,” said Kvamme. “We know our donation will help Augsburg be successful in developing Minnesota’s future business and community leaders.”

Nearly 120 alums of College Possible are currently enrolled at Augsburg and receiving intrusive advising to help them achieve academic success. Intrusive advising connects faculty advisors, academic advisors, coaches, and other academic partners on a near-daily basis to gain a better understanding of each student’s progress – using lead indicators like attendance, health, and financial stress to identify and address risks.

“Augsburg understands its student body and offers a wealth of student support services to meet the needs of its community,” said Jim McCorkell, CEO and Founder of College Possible. “Four different multicultural student offices, TRiO/SSS, academic skills coaches, disability services, and the StepUP program, which serves students in recovery, all exist to support the student experience. Rarely do I see a college as committed to access and success as Augsburg College.”

“We rely on partnerships with flagship companies like Wells Fargo not only to enrich the educational experience of our students but also to help improve how we share our own resources with our neighborhood and the broader community,” said Paul Pribbenow, President of Augsburg College.

The facility will be 135,000 square feet in size and, when fully completed, will include eight classrooms, 24 laboratories, and 6,000 feet of student and faculty research space. Centralized administrative services, kitchens, meeting rooms and lounges will provide opportunities for spontaneous, informal learning and will support cost-effective sharing of resources such as support staff and equipment.

“By encouraging students to think and act across the boundaries of ideas, values, and disciplinary perspectives, the CSBR will help Augsburg prepare them for civic agency in a complex world,” said Pribbenow.

In addition to this grant, Wells Fargo continues to fund a scholarship program through the Minnesota Private College Fund. The fund, started in 1976, provides scholarships at each of the 17 Minnesota Private Colleges, including Augsburg.

Delegates from Wells Fargo’s Diversity Council Leadership Team visited the campus on December 18th, 2014 to present a check to a group of Augsburg student leaders.

Pictured above (left to right, from back): Ann Garvey, Vice President of Student Affairs; Carolyn Roby, Vice President at Wells Fargo Foundation of MN; MayKao Fredericks, Vice President Community Affairs – MN Region; Joel Taylor, System Engineer and Chair of Black/African American Member Network; Joe Ravens, Area Bank President; Wael Abdelkader, Mortgage Implementation Consultant and Chair of Middle East Team Member Network; Carla Foster, HR Consultant and Diversity and Inclusion Council Advisor; Jay Peterson, Assistant Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations; Paul Pribbenow, President; Karen Kaivola, Provost and Chief Academic Officer; Lauren Canales; Shoua Lee, Community Development Officer/Financial Education; Vincent Henry; Janet Morales, Manager of College Access Partnership, Koal Williams; Duina Hernandez; Laurel Rohloff, Nazih Safi, and Cuong Nguyen.

Strong Support for Minnesota Urban Debate League Programs

Mayors Challenge Photo
The 2014-2015 school year will mark another impressive year of growth for the Minnesota Urban Debate League (MNUDL), a program of Augsburg College. Under the leadership of Executive Director, Amy Cram Helwich, and with the support of Faculty Advisor, Robert Groven, the MNUDL is on track to serve over 750 students in 40 Twin Cities high schools and middle schools, an increase of almost 200 students from the 2013-2014 school year.

Debate is highly effective in fostering academic skill building among students in the core cities. It requires students to thoroughly research an assigned public policy topic, develop fact-based arguments to support their positions, hone their public speaking skills, and accept criticism to further refine their arguments. This methodology develops research, critical thinking and language skills, which are essential to success in high school, college, and beyond.

Before MNUDL was launched in 2004, debate had been virtually eliminated in inner city schools in Minnesota due to budget constraints. Since then, we’ve been experiencing exciting growth. This year, MNUDL will host its 2nd Spanish Debate competition and will pilot a Somali-language debate program in partnership with student leaders from Augsburg college.

Such growth is owed, in large part, to generous contributions from Twin Cities family foundations, corporations, and corporate foundations. In 2014, MNUDL received support from the following organizations:

Carl and Eloise Pohlad Family Foundation
Arthur N. Rupe Foundation
The Saint Paul Foundation
Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
H.B. Fuller
Social Venture Partners
Carolyn Foundation
Carlson Family Foundation
Oppenheim, Wolff and Donnelly, LLP
Minneapolis Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Fund
RBC Wealth Management
General Mills Foundation
MoneyGram International Foundation
Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P.
Nilan Johnson Lewis
Gray Plant Moody & Bennett
Fredrickson & Byron Foundation
Dorsey & Whitney Foundation
Deluxe Corporation Foundation

Thanks, also, to the numerous individuals who support MNUDL each year.

The photo above is from the 2014 Mayors’ Challenge – The Great Economic Debate, featuring students from Minneapolis’ Washburn and Roosevelt and St. Paul’s Central and Como Park.  Yassin Ahmed (pictured in red) has been a part of the MNUDL since he was in 6th grade at Murray Jr. High and later at Como Park. Yassin is now a first-year student at Augsburg College on a nearly full-ride scholarship. Yassin will also be assisting us with the piloting of a Somali Debate Initiative this spring. 


MN Lawmakers Visit EAST Program Scholars

CUE Site Visit Photo

On December 11th, 2015, Sen. Kari Dziedzic, along with Sen. Greg Clausen (an Augsburg alum!) and Rep. Jim Davnie, visited with faculty and students from Augsburg’s East African Student to Teacher program (EAST).

Speaking on behalf of the program were Peg Finders (Education Dept. Chair), Audrey Lensmire, (EAST Program Director), and Yodit Tesfaye (EAST Program Assistant).

Four EAST Scholars were selected to explain why they chose the teaching profession and what the CUE fund has meant for them.

Abdiasis Hirsi, who was born in Somalia and spent several years in Kenya before coming to Minnesota, told guests about founding a school in Kenya. With minimal supplies and very little money, Abdiasis played the role of teacher, counselor, administrator, and facilities manager. He is now a co-president of EASTSA, a student association founded and run by EAST scholars, and is pursuing a K-12 ESL license. Abdiasis credited the program’s flexible credit load and Augsburg’s centralized location as vital to his success.

Ebenezer K. Flomo, a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Education program, is pursuing a Secondary Education licensure in Social Studies. Ebenezer spoke about the importance of helping non-native speakers better understand academic tests. He praised Lensmire and Tesfaye for bringing in tutors to provide added support for students preparing to take the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE).

Ayan Mohamed, an undergraduate studying to be a high school English teacher, talked about the value of the program’s bi-monthly seminars. “Building a sense of community has been so important to all of us,” said Ayan. “The meetings provide a place for us to come together, gain a sense of belonging, and encourage one another in our studies and in our lives.” Ayan also noted that teachers with a broader cultural background “are more prepared to help students navigate cultural misunderstandings.”

Osman Hasan, who holds an undergraduate degree in political science and has extensive experience as a connector between the Somali community, local government, and nonprofit organizations, felt right at home amongst the lawmakers. Noting the high demand for teachers of color in the state of Minnesota, Osman spoke about taking his talent for advocacy to the classroom to inspire more students to pursue the education field.

Representative Jim Davnie, an advocate for Augsburg’s inclusion in the CUE bill, credited the Somali community for organizing around the topic of teacher diversity and presenting the issue to state leaders. Davnie also applauded Augsburg’s leadership and Education faculty for ensuring that the EAST program was indeed a success.

The EAST Program was a recipient of funds from the 2013 Collaborative Urban Educator (CUE) appropriation. Augsburg College wishes to thank all of the legislators who worked to make  the CUE  fund and the EAST program a reality.

To learn more about EAST, click here.


EAST Scholars Speak at National Symposium

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In November, three of Augsburg College’s EAST Scholars were invited to Washington, DC to speak at the Annual Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English. The symposium shared the remarkable efforts of teachers, schools, and communities in Massachusetts and Minnesota. Challenging superficial models of diversity in literacy and teacher education, Augsburg’s EAST Scholars joined other featured speakers in discussing innovative approaches in recruiting, training, and retaining teachers from historically marginalized groups and developing transformative campus-to-community pipelines over the long term. The EAST session was titled “Radical Education for Teacher Education and Learning.”

The goal of the EAST Program (East African Student to Teacher) is to recruit, retain, and license highly qualified students of East African descent who wish to become K-12 teachers. The EAST Program is funded by the State of Minnesota’s Collaborative Urban Educator appropriation and receives additional support from the Marbrook Foundation. To learn more about EAST, click here.

Appearing on behalf of Augsburg College were (L to R) Audrey Lensmire, Program Director; Ayan Mohamed, EAST Scholar; Yodit Tesfaye, Program Assistant; Abdiasis Hirsi, EAST Scholar; and Ebenezer Flomo, EAST Scholar.

Six Auggies Awarded Scholarships from Institute for Mexicans Abroad

IME Becas Award Ceremony


On November 20th, 2014, Consul Alberto Fierro Garza of the Consulate of Mexico in Saint Paul and Guido Arochi, Deputy Director General of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad (IME), presented an IME Fellowship Program grant to Augsburg College to benefit Mexican or Mexican-American students.

Augsburg College will provide a 1:1 match of these scholarship funds, thus providing a total of $24,000 for six current students with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status.

“Our DACA students inspire us with their resilience and challenge us to stay true to our mission,” said Dulce Monterrubio, Director of Latin@ Student Services. “These funds will assist DACA students by closing the gap in tuition, fees, and out-of-pocket cost so that they can direct their energy and talents towards their studies, internships, and research endeavors.”

Pictured (L to R): Jay D. Peterson, Assistant Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations; Miriam Villaldama Lopez (Women’s Studies, ’16); Alan Medina-Gonzalez (Chemistry, ’16); Dulce Monterrubio, Director of Latin@ Student Services; Lori Peterson, Assistant Vice President, Dean of Professional and Graduate Studies; Gabriela Monge Lagunes (Social Work, ’15)

Not Pictured: Julio Velazco Silvar (Pre-Engineering, ’17), Jose Guadarrama (Mathematics, ’16), and Bryan Sanchez Valencia (Psychology, ’17)

U.S. Bank Supports the Center for Science, Business, and Religion and Student Vets at Augsburg College

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Augsburg College and U.S. Bank celebrated the opening of a new campus Veterans’ Lounge with a dedication ceremony on November 10th, 2014.

The newly renovated Veterans’ Lounge, located in Room 110 of Oren Gateway Center, honors the contributions that student veterans have made to their country. The lounge will host meetings with veteran support staff and features a veteran recognition wall, a computer workstation, a study area, and other resources and materials.

Speaking on behalf of Augsburg were Student Veteran Representative Eric Olson (Army), Keenan O’Neill (Marine Corps), and Josh Pauer (Army). Several other student, staff, and faculty veterans were also on hand for the ceremony.

Representing U.S. Bank was Paul Peel, an Army veteran, along with Jennie Carlson, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Deborah Burke, Senior Vice President of Government and Community Relations, and Rebekah Fawcett, Vice President of Employee Relations. Peel, a 2012 graduate of Augsburg’s Master’s in Business Administration program who now works in U.S. Bank’s Corporate Trust division, was excited to be able to connect with current Augsburg student vets.

U.S. Bank recently pledged $125,000 toward the building of the Center for Science, Business, and Religion at Augsburg College. The college has recognized U.S. Bank’s substantial contribution to the campaign by granting naming rights to the new Veterans’ Lounge.

U.S. Bank and Augsburg College are both nationally recognized as top supporters of veterans and military families. For its ongoing efforts to provide transitioning veterans the best possible experience in higher education, from navigating benefits and financial aid to securing an internship, Augsburg was named a 2015 Military Friendly® School.

To learn more about the Veterans’ Lounge and other Veterans’ support services, please email studentvetrep@augsburg.edu or call 612-330-1151.

Pictured above (L to R) outside of the Veterans’ Lounge in Oren Gateway Center: U.S. Bank’s Paul Peel (’12) and  Board of Regent member Jennie Carlson, Senior Vice President of Human Resources; with Augsburg’s President Paul Pribbenow, VA Certifying Officials Shannon Kasperson and Lori York, and student vets from Augsburg College.

Institute for Mexicans Abroad (IME) Awards $12,000 in Scholarships

IME LogoThe Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul and the Institute for Mexicans Abroad (IME) have awarded $12,000 in scholarships to students currently enrolled at Augsburg College.

The IME Fellowship Program recognizes colleges and universities who have pledged complimentary grants as part of a commitment to facilitating the enrollment and educational success of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

Dulce Monterrubio, Director of Latino Student Services, and a group of faculty, staff, and students, will attend a November 20th ceremony to accept the award.