Rare among metropolitan colleges, Augsburg has a knack for somehow climbing into the DNA of its students and setting up residence, whereupon it gets passed down to future generations. How does that happen?
“Augsburg is too big to be considered a family exactly, yet it’s a very special place that fosters deep connections,” says Paul Terrio ’87 as he tries to explain what is perhaps inexplicable. “It’s a small place in a big city. It’s an institution that recognizes what it needs to focus on—that we’re here to be something special for both the students and the world. When I was a student here, I felt those undercurrents, but I couldn’t see it clearly the way I can now.”
Multiple family members on a path together
Now senior director of student financial services, Paul certainly understands the family metaphor. His father and two siblings are Auggies, as are his wife’s brother and nephew. He met Tracey (Morris) ’87—via phone in those pre-Facebook days—in Urness Hall, when they were freshmen. He was a history and political science major. She was a science major who’d wanted to be a veterinarian since elementary school. They married the year after graduation and went to the University of Minnesota, Paul for a job in finance and Tracey for vet school.
Four years later, Paul returned to Augsburg, where he thought he’d have a better chance to make a difference and whose value system he shared. “I believe in what we’re trying to do for this world and other like-minded people. It’s been fun, particularly in the last ten years, to watch this institution articulate what it’s always been about, and to see how that resonates in the market. We do the right things and educate people in the right way.”
Embracing shared values in the marketplace
Augsburg embraces student diversity that encompasses not only race and ethnicity but also socio-economics. “The way students interact and the differences they bring lead to true, genuine learning. I support that type of interaction, which is so needed in this world,” he explains, pointing to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion as a centerpiece example. “We are not afraid to own that this is what we are.”
The decision to make a five-year, $25,000 pledge to the CSBR wasn’t difficult, says Tracey. Science was instrumental to her career, particularly with its small classes and close faculty connections, and the need for new facilities is apparent. “The number of chemistry students has exploded since I was there,” she points out. “But it’s more about giving back to an institution that has given us a lot. We got a great education.”
“We had the ability to give something, and we wanted to make sure we gave it to something we really believe in,” says Paul. “Higher education makes a difference.”
Aligning resources with commitment
As if to prove his point, Paul and Tracey’s daughter, a science major, is loving her first year at Augsburg. Tracey recalls the memories flooding back as they moved her into—of course—Urness Hall, where, indeed, some things have changed. “There’s a sign in the laundry that says you can get a text when your clothes are done!” she laughs.
“She didn’t choose Augsburg because her dad works here, but because it’s absolutely right for her,” Paul adds. “Obviously the family connection is very dear to me. Working here only adds to my love and respect for this place.”