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AUGSBURG UNIVERSITY REVIEWING CLASSROOM INCIDENT, PROGRAM INCLUSION

(Updated Jan. 14. This post will be updated as new information is available.)

On October 31, Augsburg leadership received bias claim reports related to a classroom incident and to the inclusiveness of specific program areas at the university. In response, Augsburg leadership immediately set in motion the university’s process for investigating such situations.

The first step was to initiate the informal resolution process, as provided by the Faculty Handbook. Through that process, individuals who submitted non-anonymous reports were invited to have further conversations. Dozens of interviews were conducted. Under Augsburg policy, any personnel discussions or actions related to this process will remain confidential.

Augsburg’s chief academic officer also charged a team of faculty, students, and multicultural student services staff to review specific program areas relative to Augsburg’s equity commitment. That commitment, approved by the Augsburg Board of Regents in April 2018, states that “Augsburg must fully embrace the challenge of being the institution its students need today, creating culturally relevant learning spaces and opportunities that build students’ agency to lead change at Augsburg and in their communities.”

In early January, it was concluded that the informal resolution process failed to achieve an appropriate resolution. As a result, Augsburg’s chief academic officer initiated the Formal Resolution process, also outlined in the Faculty Handbook. Unlike the Informal process, the formal process involves faculty, requiring consultation with the university’s committee on tenure and promotion for advice and recommendation. That committee, which is elected by the faculty, may also recommend formation of a faculty hearing committee to review concerns and make recommendations. Any personnel discussions or actions will remain confidential under Augsburg policy.

Throughout this process, Augsburg is committed to supporting students’ academic success. Augsburg leadership recognizes that these recent issues have raised important questions about inclusiveness at Augsburg more generally. These questions will not be ignored.

A variety of other institution-wide efforts are underway—including student-led initiatives, faculty-led discussions, and more. A student survey is in development as part of a curricular inclusivity study. A faculty and staff work group has been formed to review a proposed general education requirement to support intercultural learning. And plans are in development for dedicating time on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January for workshops and intercultural competence development.

“We know that the work of fostering an inclusive learning environment is ongoing, and we are fully committed to it,” said Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow. “We are grateful to the students, faculty, and staff who have spoken courageously to raise campus awareness, who have engaged in actively listening to the issues being expressed, and who have called for changes that advance our equity work. Augsburg will address this important topic like it has many other critical issues in our 150-year history: We will acknowledge and engage the topic, not shrink from it, and work together to make the university better.”

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