Tara Sweeney’s Swedish picture book project highlighted at Twin Cities PBS

Tara Sweeney painting.
Tara Sweeney on TPT.

Twin Cities PBS featured retired Augsburg art professor Tara Sweeney’s collaborative “A to Zåäo” picture book project at the American Swedish Institute.

“A to Zåäö,” is a Swedish alphabet book that features paintings of objects and stories from the historic Swedish-American immigrant experience.

“The objects are the things that immigrants brought to Minnesota and I have to believe they were traveling pretty light. So they brought things that meant something to them and/or they were useful, so they’re loaded with stories.” Sweeney told TPT’s Minnesota Original art series.

Sweeney credits her 25 years of service at Augsburg and its institutional mission for influencing her interest in developing a picture book that speaks to historic and contemporary immigrant experiences.

View the segment at Twin Cities PBS

Jeanne Boeh discusses the value of a college degree with WCCO

 

Jeanne Boeh on WCCO
Jeanne Boeh on WCCO

Jeanne Boeh, professor of economics and business department chair at Augsburg University, recently spoke with WCCO about the rising cost of a college education.

Boeh noted that a college degree is still worth it.

“It is a different experience than it was 20 years ago. All the amenities have improved. There is more support for students. The dorms are better. The food is better. The kind of help students need is more available. All of that costs money,” Boeh told reporter Angela Davis.

Read and watch the full report at the WCCO site.

Support for Associate Professor Mzenga Wanyama

(Updated 9/5/2018)

Augsburg University is sharing this background about the immigration case involving Associate Professor Mzenga Wanyama to keep our campus and the public informed.

Status with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
The Board of Immigration Appeals has granted a stay of removal. As a result, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can’t deport Mzenga Wanyama and Mary Mzenga until the Board issues a decision on the merits of the motion to reopen his asylum case.

ICE had previously informed Dr. Wanyama and his wife Mary Mzenga that they were required to depart the United States on September 9. That had been extended another 30 days, before the stay of removal was granted late August 31.

“We are saddened that Dr. Wanyama continues to face this difficult situation,” said Paul Pribbenow, president of Augsburg University. “We value his scholarship and skill set and are exploring options for him to continue working in Augsburg’s global operations if he can’t stay in the U.S.”

Background
On April 5, Dr. Wanyama and his wife were informed in a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement that ICE would allow them 90 days to depart the United States. During a June 29 meeting ICE confirmed that it had extended their departure date from July 4 to August 3. The ICE office had asked them to return to the office on July 25 for a check-in.

On July 25, ICE then informed Dr. Wanyama and his wife Mary Mzenga that they would have to depart the United States on September 9. He was required to bring his plane tickets with a September 9 departure data to a check-in appointment with ICE on September 4. His September 9 departure was later extended 30 days.

Meanwhile, a motion to reopen Dr. Wanyama’s asylum application based on changed country conditions and a stay of removal was filed earlier this summer with the Board of Immigration Appeals. Once ICE was unwilling to use its discretionary authority any longer, his attorney requested the emergency review of the stay of removal that was granted August 31. If the stay had not granted, he and his wife would most likely have had to leave the U.S. in October.

Dr. Wanyama is teaching fall semester 2018 classes in the English department.

Augsburg University statements
Augsburg issued a statement from Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow following the Wanaymas’ April 5 ICE meeting, as well as statements before and following the previous ICE meeting, on March 9. These statements are posted below:

Augsburg University Faculty Senate statement
The Faculty Senate of Augsburg University wishes to express our unanimous and unconditional support for our friend and colleague, Professor Mzenga Wanyama. We urge all those who care about Professor Wanyama to consider signing the petition on his behalf at https://www.change.org/p/augsburg-university-support-augsburg-professor-mzenga-wanyama.

Augsburg University faculty statement
The Augsburg University faculty calls on the U.S. government to halt plans for the unjust deportation of our colleague Professor Mzenga Wanyama and his spouse and Augsburg nursing student Mary Mzenga and to permit their continued work and residence in the US. We stand against the anti-immigrant sentiment that is prompting the current wave of deportations and proudly affirm our status as an institution that supports the many immigrant and refugee members of our academic community.

Website
A website, www.mzenga.com, has been created by friends and supporters of Mzenga and Mary Wanyama. The site includes a statement from the Wanyamas, information about the next Immigration and Customs Enforcement meeting, and information about getting involved and providing support.

Work authorization and sponsorship
Augsburg University complies with federal law that requires employers to verify that employees are eligible to work in the United States. Dr. Wanyama has authorization to work in the United States, issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Sponsorship for permanent resident status is not an option at this time due to a restriction related to a J-1 two-year home residency requirement. The two-year home residency requirement means that those who come to the U.S. in J-1 status cannot become permanent residents in the U.S., change status, or get work or family-based visa status until they return to their country of last permanent residence for at least two years cumulatively. A request to waive the two-year home residency requirement was filed several years ago, but the waiver was denied. Augsburg is working with legal counsel to pursue all options available to us under the current scenario.

Augsburg partnered to publish the Somali Student Achievement in Minnesota report

The Augsburg Education Department East African Student to Teacher program partnered with The Minnesota Education Equity Partnership to research and publish the report Somali Student Achievement in Minnesota about the state’s largest East African diaspora community.

This report, which was released and discussed at a launch event in May at Augsburg, invites readers to consider and recommend innovative practices to strengthen academic achievement for Somali students and to guide educators across Minnesota to better support Somali students and their families.

View the Somali Student Achievement in Minnesota report.

Read a Somali language article about the Somali Student report launch.

Watch a Somali language video about the Somali Student report launch here.

 

 

Professor of Economics Jeanne Boeh discusses why prices are rising with WCCO’S Heather Brown

Jeanne BoehAccording to WCCO, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Netflix, Amazon, John Deere and more have all recently announced they are raising prices. So why are things getting more expensive?

To answer this question, WCCO’S Heather Brown spoke with Augsburg’s Business Department Chair Jeanne Boeh. “Prices are going up partly because people have more income,” Boeh said.

There are two main ways for inflation to occur, Boeh explained to WCCO. The first is called “demand pull,” and that is when people have more money, they demand more and, in turn, businesses charge more. The second way is “cost push” inflation, when the inputs — like gas or wages — that go into a making a good or service rise.

See the full interview on the WCCO website.

Star Tribune interviews Prof. Andrew Aoki about Russian fake Facebook campaign targeting Minnesota

Post promoting a rally was among the sponsored ads on Facebook, targeted to people within 50 miles of Minnesota.
Post promoting a rally was among the sponsored ads on Facebook, targeted to people within 50 miles of MN.

The Star Tribune reported about thousands of recently disclosed fake Facebook ads and posts and interviewed Augsburg political science professor Andrew Aoki.

Many of these ads and posts released by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee referenced several Minnesota events, including the police shooting cases of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile.

“There’s obviously some significant division in this country, and so my guess is that they looked for where there are real divisions and then tried to make them deeper,” Aoki told the Star Tribune. “Because it’s a lot easier to stoke the fires that are already burning than to start new ones.”

Read full story on the Star Tribune website.

Economics prof. Keith Gilsdorf interviewed by Kare 11 about low unemployment rate

Professor Keith Gilsdorf on Kare 11Cory Hepola from Kare 11 spoke with Augsburg economics professor Keith Gilsdorf to discuss the country’s current unemployment rate, which is the lowest it has been since 2000. Unemployment topped out at 10 percent in October 2009, and ever since it has been on a steady decline.

“I don’t think that you can think of it as a permanent kind of place where the economy is going to continue that for a long period of time,”  Gilsdorf said. “It’s a tight labor market and there’s going to be pressure for employers to try to attract workers to their business, and at some point they’re going to have to offer higher pay.”

Watch full report on the Kare 11 website.

KSTP interviews Augsburg prof. about 25 School Districts Still Negotiating Teacher Contracts

Andrew Aoki speaks with KSTPKSTP spoke with Augsburg political science professor Andrew Aoki about Minnesota school districts that have teachers working with expired contracts. Teachers are strictly working their contract hours and are no longer staying late after school or grading papers and responding to emails at home, KSTP reported.

He says the pressures around organized labor is likely a concern for teachers unions.

“You only have to look to Wisconsin to see there are some real pressures on the unions,” Aoki said.

Watch the report on the KSTP website.

Economics professor Jeanne Boeh discusses vacation day usage on WCCO

Jeanne Boeh on WCCO
Jeanne Boeh on WCCO

When WCCO reporter Christiane Cordero wanted to know why Americans are taking more vacation, she interviewed Augsburg economics professor Jeanne Boeh.

“The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low” said Boeh, chair of Augsburg’s business administration department. “It’s even lower in Minnesota. People are feeling more confident.”

WCCO reported that a recent study by the U.S. Travel Association found that the average number of vacation day usage among Americans has hit a seven-year high, at 17.2 days. Most days off are being used for chores.

The study also found that 52 percent of Americans have vacation time left at the end the year. Why? “Some of those are self-employed,” Boeh told WCCO. “Think about it. If you’re just starting a business, if you go off for two weeks, you lose two weeks of income.”

Watch full video on WCCO’s website.

Augsburg psychology professor Bridget Robinson-Riegler talks with the Pioneer Press about TV’s “Reminiscence Bump”

The Pioneer Press reports that there is no question the ’00 are back in television. Given the high demand for reboots, relaunches and remakes, Ross Raihala, of the Pioneer Press, interviewed Augsburg psychology professor Bridget Robinson-Riegler about what she describes as a “reminiscence bump.”

“Most memories come from age 10 to age 30 or so,” said Robinson-Riegler, in the article. Many network executives are of an age where some of their most potent memories formed around the turn of the century, thus the oncoming tide of ’00s throwbacks, she told the Pioneer Press.

Recent hit television revivals include Trading Spaces, Will and Grace, and Queer Eye and movie sequels such as Super Troopers 2 and Incredibles 2.

“One of the main things nostalgia does is help people find meaning in life and to connect with other people,” Robinson-Riegler said. “When you’re connected to other people, life has meaning. Nostalgia makes people feel protected, loved and happy. People even feel physically warmer.”

Read the full article at the Pioneer Press here.