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The Education that Keeps on Giving

John Baudhuin '70

As John S. Baudhuin ’70 reflects on his student years, he finds that he is increasingly grateful for what (and how) he learned more than 40 years ago—more now than ever before. This was reinforced when a friend and fellow retiree recently said he was a little jealous that Baudhuin was enjoying such a wide variety of interests in retirement—fishing, sports, opera, reading, writing, and so on. It occurred to Baudhuin that Augsburg had opened up many of these interests to him, once again solidifying his belief that a good liberal arts education doesn’t just teach someone stuff; rather, it teaches us “how to think about stuff and to find stuff interesting.” It doesn’t answer a lot of questions, but instead gives us better questions to ask. He was impressed that some professors would even give credit for wrong answers if there was evidence of having employed a careful thought process.

Seeking solid information for various papers taught persistence and resourcefulness, says Baudhuin, who once trekked to the U of M to explore its 10-story library in order to validate a single factoid for a paper. Such skills later served him well as an addiction professional, who more than once encountered a patient whose first interview was “less than truthful.” A recovering alcoholic himself, Baudhuin celebrates more than 42 years of sobriety and is “more than thrilled” to see that Augsburg has become a national leader for students in recovery with StepUP®. Years into his recovery, he was invited back to campus to teach some classes, and to consult regarding cases. He is pleased to report that the “students in recovery” concept has inspired a similar program in his home state, Florida.

Though Baudhuin called himself an atheist as a student, he took the basic (required) course on the Bible and signed up for religion courses taught by Prof. John Benson just to prove his point. Over the years, he says, he has now come “full circle,” reconciling with the faith of his fathers, the Roman Catholic Church. The textbooks he used at Augsburg are still on his office bookshelves, though he had to purchase a new set when they got raggedy. He figures God and Dr. Benson “won” on the atheism front.

Two other aspects of Baudhuin’s Augsburg education that have been particularly meaningful over the years are the foreign language requirement (which he believes helped him think as another culture thinks) and the emphasis on involvement within the local community, notably among Native Americans. His first pow-wow with the local Ojibwe tribe, held in the Augsburg gym, was open to all. Familiarity with that culture was instructive in his later work with Native Americans in Minnesota and, more recently, with the Seminoles in Florida. He was honored to assist a local Seminole in conducting sage ceremonies.

Having published four books and many articles, Baudhuin cannot overstate the importance of Augsburg’s emphasis on building one’s writing skills—not simply for budding authors, but for use in every area of life. He says that in nearly every clinical or pastoral job that he has held, his writing skills helped bolster his position. One of his pieces, written after visiting an Orthodox schul for Shabbat, went viral on the Hasidic Jewish circuit, which he saw as a special reward.

Most recently, Baudhuin has served as director of spiritual and auxiliary services at Caron Renaissance in Boca Raton, Fla. He and his wife of 25 years, Ruth Mary, live in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., along with their two dogs, Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennett (names chosen as a direct spin-off of his major in English literature). The Baudhuins have two sons, both living in the Minneapolis area, and Baudhuin hopes that at least one of his three grandchildren will become an Auggie.—Cheryl Crockett ’89