Augsburg’s ninth president, Bill Frame, was fond of pointing out our “militant modesty,” the tendency to avoid touting our accomplishments for fear that we might be accused of boasting. Whether occasioned by our Lutheran faith tradition or Scandinavian roots (or some combination thereof), this modesty meant that often our good work as an institution was hidden under a bushel. Now, as someone steeped both in Lutheran and Scandinavian ways, I may have occasionally fallen victim to that same modesty, but perhaps I am being rehabilitated because there is just so much to celebrate at Augsburg these days! We can no longer hide our light, as this issue of Augsburg Now most clearly illustrates.
Whether it is our name change to Augsburg University, officially celebrated in early September; the 29th annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum in mid-September, attracting international attention for this remarkable gathering of Nobel laureates and other peacemakers; the progress on the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, our signature academic building to open for classes in early January 2018; or one of the myriad other signs of good work—like the renewal of our McNair Scholars program, preparing first generation and students of color for graduate and professional school—I just can’t deny the need to celebrate!
So, here’s my point. I’m all for humility and modesty in pursuing the mission-based work we are called to do for our students and our community. The gifts we share as a community—our values and commitments, our faculty and staff, our alumni and partners, and our inspiring students—these truly are gifts to be stewarded responsibly, not exploited. But it is not boasting when we celebrate how those gifts come together and are deployed to achieve our distinctive calling in the world: to be small to our students and big for the world, to educate students as informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders.
In fact, I might argue that not celebrating what has been achieved means that we miss the opportunity to proclaim what God has done in our midst and how others are invited to join us in the work we are called to do. We live in a world marked by a sense of scarcity; Augsburg models what it means to model the way of abundance.
We choose abundance, and we celebrate all that God has made possible at Augsburg University—surely a beacon of light and hope in the world.
Paul C. Pribbenow, President