Focus on faculty: Bill Green

by Jeff Shelman

Much has changed at Augsburg since the last time Bill Green taught a history class. Paul Pribbenow began his work as Augsburg’s president. The Oren Gateway Center was completed and opened. The school has expanded offerings in several areas.

“I miss being on campus,” Green says. “I miss the give-and-take, I miss the collegiality. I miss the sounds of the weights in the weight room.”

For more than three years, Green has been on leave from the Augsburg faculty. Instead of teaching Auggies history, Green has served as the Minneapolis Public Schools’ superintendent. It isn’t a job Green ever envisioned holding, but when the former superintendent left the position under less-than-ideal circumstances, Green went from school board member to interim superintendent to permanent superintendent.

The school board wanted a superintendent familiar to people in Minneapolis. They wanted a leader who would provide some stability. And they wanted someone who could help the district regain the trust of the community.

“I got this job by answering the phone; I shouldn’t have done that,” Green says with a laugh. “I’ve enjoyed it much of the time. This is probably the most diverse school district I’m aware of in terms of race, ethnicity, class, where people live. We are constantly trying to make decisions that are for the good of the whole. But in a district so diverse, that’s hard.”

While Green hasn’t taught at Augsburg since the spring of 2006, he will soon return. In July, Green announced that he will not seek an extension to his original three-year contract with the school district. And after the 2009- 10 school year, he will return to his post at Augsburg.

“I don’t really think of this as a career change,” Green says about his tenure as superintendent. “I’ve never seen myself as an administrator.” Even before the announcement, he knew there would be a time when the district needs a different type of leader.

And a little more than a year from now, Green will be back at Augsburg, a place he says looks a little different from afar.“When I drive by there, I’m amazed at how beautiful it is, how different it looks,” Green says.

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