By Paul C. Pribbenow
I am mindful of the many ways in which coming home to Augsburg has meaning for alumni and those of us on campus. We all share in common this place and the experience that continues to shape our lives in the world. And when we “come home,” we mark just how powerful those connections and shared experiences are to our personal and common callings in the world.
So what does it mean to come home to Augsburg?
First, it is quite literally a homecoming to this place in the heart of Cedar-Riverside and Minneapolis, this campus home we have inhabited since 1872 when our Norwegian-American ancestors first settled here.
Homecoming seems especially meaningful this year as our campus community is engaged in a Commission on Campus Space and Master Planning— exploring together what it means that we are in this urban setting and what our aspirations are for the future of Augsburg’s campus. During this year, we will plan for new buildings, landscape, and the responsible use of space. And we also will consider what it means that we are here in Cedar-Riverside, this neighborhood we share with various neighbors. How best do we honor our role as neighbor here?
Second, homecoming also marks our return to a community, a gathering of those who share our commitments to education for service.
There are clear distinctions in the nature of this community over time. We are much larger—we now count more than 4,100 students and 650 faculty and staff. We offer a wider range of academic programs— from our traditional day program to adult undergraduate and expanding graduate opportunities. We are increasingly diverse—in ethnic and religious background, in age and in socioeconomic class, and in so many other ways. But at its core it is still Augsburg, a community grounded in offering a superior educational experience for all students that focuses on the intersections of faith, learning, and service.
Augsburg is one of the most hospitable and welcoming communities I know, a place that believes deeply that access to education demands of us a commitment to justice for all God’s creatures.
Finally, you come home to a mission, a character, and a set of values that abide over the years. Here, we still celebrate the Word made flesh. Here, we still share with our immediate neighbors an immigrant sensibility, the belief that education is at the core of a healthy neighborhood and democracy. Here, we still work together to ensure that all deserving students can receive an Augsburg education. Here, we still help each other discern our vocations and gain the skills and knowledge to live them out in the world.
In the work and lives of our alumni, we have remarkable stories of how this distinctive Augsburg mission has made a difference in the world over the years. For those of us who are the current stewards of Augsburg’s mission, I urge you to listen to the stories of our alumni for they are our “epistles to the world,” our parables of what an Augsburg education means. You will be amazed by what they have accomplished.
I hope those of you who came to Homecoming were able to meet our current students, because they are the most powerful statements of our mission, our aspirations to make a difference in the world. They are remarkable signs of what we can look forward to as Augsburg seeks to live out its mission to educate students who are “informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders.”