This fall, Augsburg College hosted alumni, faculty, staff, and community members for an international travel experience that took participants to the Czech Republic and Germany, which is in the midst of a tourism boom accompanying the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The travelers visited Wittenberg, the long-time home of Reformation catalyst Martin Luther, and ventured to historic sites to learn about the origins of the Lutheran faith from Augsburg College Religion Department faculty members Hans Wiersma and Lori Brandt Hale.
Star Tribune reporter Jean Hopfensperger and photographer Jerry Holt accompanied the group to chronicle how Minnesotans are observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in the “Land of Luther” in addition to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” given that religious, arts, and cultural organizations across Minnesota are planning special events and exhibits to mark the occasion.
As Hopfensperger wrote, “Luther’s legacy is particularly deep in Minnesota, and not just because of his followers’ enduring embrace of hymn fests — often followed by Jell-O and hot dish. One in four residents trace their namesake faith to the monk from Wittenberg.”
In a Star Tribune story, Augsburg alumnae Carol Pfleiderer ’64 and Kathleen Johnson ’72 described their excitement with the trip itinerary and the ways it reflects and builds upon their understanding of their faith.
The Rev. Mark Hanson ’68, the College’s Executive Director of the Christensen Center for Vocation, was among other alumni quoted in the article. He described some of the ways the Lutheran church is using the Reformation anniversary to foster Lutheran-Catholic dialogue and to make the church accessible to all people.
President Paul Pribbenow met with leaders of the Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial board to discuss Minnesota’s educational achievement gap among children and youth of diverse backgrounds. The state has one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation, and Augsburg is working to ensure all students of academic ability have access to higher education. The College’s pledge to this work includes limited debt pathways to graduation, setting aside dedicated housing for homeless students, increasing financial aid literacy, supporting faculty in creating inclusive classrooms, and increasing access to course materials.
The editorial explained that Minnesota is rapidly diversifying, but increasing student diversity on college campuses involves more than waiting for more nonwhite Minnesotans to enroll. “As Augsburg College is demonstrating, academic institutions can do much to adapt their own policies and practices to educate what previously has been an underserved share of the state’s population,” the editorial explained.
Augsburg has sought to reduce barriers to college success that often impede students of color, and the College aims to not only to enroll a larger share of nonwhite students, but also to see them through to graduation.
At Augsburg College, Kristin Anderson teaches courses on the history of art and architecture, and she’s prepared to talk about works ranging from the Mona Lisa to the Metrodome.
Anderson’s current writing and research are focused on sports architecture, and she is co-authoring a book on the history of athletic facilities in the Twin Cities.
Minneapolis’ new U.S. Bank Stadium is scheduled to open its doors to the public following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 22, and Anderson offered an explanation in the Star Tribune as to why the facility’s design needed to be bold.
“Every sports broadcast will open with a view of the stadium, the skyline shot, the establishing view of the city,” she said. “If it weren’t distinctive or if it were ugly like the Metrodome, that’s not the statement you want to make.”
The Star Tribune recently covered the start of construction on the Norman and Evangeline Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion — Augsburg College’s much anticipated interdisciplinary academic building scheduled to open in January 2018. The article notes that the capital campaign for this building project was the most successful in the College’s history and so far has generated $54 million, which is eight times more than Augsburg has ever raised.
The story also acknowledges the generosity of the building’s lead donors, describing Norm Hagfor’s career success and the decades-long connection the Hagfors family developed with Augsburg.
Neal Karlen, a mentor in Augsburg College’s Master of Arts in Creative Writing program, described the unlikely friendship he developed with music icon Prince in a recent Star Tribune column. Karlen is among an elite group of writers granted in-depth interviews with Prince in the mid-1980s. Over time, discussions between the print writer and the songwriter developed into something akin to friendship, according Karlen.
“I always told Prince I knew he really didn’t consider me a friend, but as one of the few people in Minneapolis who was probably awake, like he always was, in the middle of the night, and was ‘Willing and Able,’ as my favorite song of his is titled, to talk about loneliness and death,” Karlen wrote.
A reporter from the Minneapolis Star Tribune recently was on campus to interview Diana Pierce ’16 MAL, a longtime Twin Cities news anchor whose retirement from KARE 11 News was announced Wednesday. Pierce completed her Master of Art in Leadership at Augsburg College in December, and she will participate in Augsburg’s 2016 Commencement ceremonies.
Although she will be retiring from KARE 11, Pierce has not finished her work of “helping shape stories that provide a voice for the underserved.” She will use her degree to move behind the camera and produce documentaries. “It’s a weird, wonderful transition,” she said.
Retiring KARE 11 anchor Diana Pierce MAL ’16 recently credited the graduate degree she is scheduled to receive at Augsburg College for her optimism toward the future.
“We’ll see what doors are open that weren’t in the past, as a result of getting a master’s. For me, I look at it as an additional set of skills,” Pierce said. “I’m looking into several different opportunities. [The advanced degree] lets me think there is life after broadcasting. Now I feel prepared for it.”
Pierce recently announced her retirement after having worked for the station for more than 32 years.
Longtime KARE 11 news anchor Diana Pierce ’16 MAL recently announced her retirement from broadcasting in the Twin Cities market after more than 30 years on air. In a story on the KARE 11 website, Pierce said, “The timing is excellent,” for the change because she will graduate from Augsburg College’s Master of Arts in Leadership program this spring and will pursue new opportunities with her master’s degree. To learn more about Pierce’s award-winning journalism career, read the following stories:
The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently interviewed former Augsburg College basketball player and retired NBA star Devean George ’99 about the upcoming retirement of legendary Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant. George, who retired in 2011, played his first seven seasons in the NBA alongside Bryant.
George said that he knows Bryant is ready to retire from professional sports because he has seen familiar signs from his own retirement. “What I’ve seen him go through this year, you can see the flame is not there and he knows it’s time,” he said. “It’s the old cliché: Father Time, no one can beat it. There comes a time where no one wins. Basketball is a young man’s sport. It’s that simple.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently published an article about the life and career of Phil Adamo, professor of history at Augsburg College and 2015 Minnesota Professor of the Year.
The article focuses on Adamo’s engaging approach to teaching history and his personal history with academia. As a young man, he decided to forgo a college education in favor of a career as a clown with the Ringling Bros. Circus. Eventually, the constant demands of performance wore him down. “I was exhausted by performing so much, and I started to think that I wasn’t funny,” he said. “That’s a bad thing for a clown.”
Returning from the circus, he enrolled as a medieval studies major at Ohio State University, where a senior project involving a summer in a monastery led to an award-winning dissertation and propelled him toward a career in academia.
The article also depicts Adamo as an ardent supporter of having a liberal arts education, which he says “gives the benefit of having a better life, a more interesting life, a better understanding of who you are as a human.”