Augsburg Family Spotlight: Bruce ’91 and Michael Rivers ’19

Rivers
Michael Rivers ‘19

Facing an Unexpected Tragedy

When Michael Rivers graduates from Augsburg this spring, he plans to do some private investigative work for criminal lawyers, and then enroll in law school. His goal of becoming a criminal defense attorney with a private practice would seem like a natural progression, especially since that’s what his father has done since 1998. But his pathway to this decision was a long and painful one—and never a given.

Rivers recalls that growing up in the southwest Minneapolis house once occupied by his great-grandparents, he sensed a strong bond between his parents (both Auggies who went on to earn doctorates), and he enjoyed many childhood pleasures—skiing, baseball, and biking the Minnehaha Parkway weekly to Lake Harriet. Life seemed simple then.

But he remembers a lot of fighting, too. When Rivers was five years old, his parents divorced. In the beginning, that wasn’t very troubling for a five-year-old—it meant two birthday celebrations, two Christmas gatherings, two homes, and several “double events.” But within the year, his mother died and—even though the full impact of having her “gone forever” didn’t really sink in—he managed to continue with sports and many of his other activities, including regular attendance at his dad’s Sunday School class. He also participated in an “amazing grief group” at his elementary school, which helped him talk about death with peers and contributed greatly to healing and an understanding of death.

As Rivers was entering his teens, he was told the truth about how his mother had died. She had not been sick, as he had been led to believe. She had taken her own life—just as his grandfather and uncle had done. This new information—and the intentionality of those deaths—forced him to reconstruct everything on which he felt his life had been based.

Trying to Cope

He began drinking at age 13, becoming intoxicated regularly to calm the chatter in his brain. During his teen years (the “trouble phase”), Rivers quit going to church. He no longer had any interest in academics, and his grades plummeted. He resented and disregarded authority and started lying to his father. Expelled from one high school for possessing a taser, he ended up attending three others. He was arrested four times. He ran away from home four times, once ending up in Omaha where he was arrested for shoplifting and being a runaway, another time in Colorado where the $6,000 he had stolen from his father funded a weeklong drug ride, and twice in Florida. He “went through a lot of friends” and surrounded himself with people who had low expectations of him.

The fire that fueled the animosity he then felt toward the world was his understanding of his mother’s death. He felt betrayed and lied to. He was haunted by the image of his mother in her casket: the lifeless body that once held his life inside of her, and the burn marks on her lips from the gun she used—and the images still inhabit his dreams today.

While in an after-care treatment program, Rivers learned there were school programs that could help him earn a GED—a fact that became enticing only when he discovered he could possibly get into Augsburg as well. Though his high school academic record held little promise, his optimism increased as he recalled nostalgically the stories from his parents about how much they had enjoyed Augsburg. He also learned more about the StepUP program, Augsburg’s residential collegiate recovery community.

When Rivers began his studies at Augsburg, he lived in the dorms. He ended his first year with a 2.1 GPA, a slight improvement from high school. But he knew he could do much better. In terms of the required sobriety in StepUP, he had relapsed the first time and had to join the program again. But soon he began to thrive and discovered that there was great value for him in the communal connection he found in the StepUP community, even with substantial staff turnover in the program and some gossiping that can come from living in close proximity.

The Road Ahead

Throughout his Augsburg years, he has gone through waves of emotions, thinking about his mother and the strong possibility that he has likely sat in the same classrooms as she did, interacting with some of the same professors (like Dr. Nancy Steblay, the psychology professor for whom his mother once wrote a meta-analysis).

And he has changed. His outlook on his mother’s death has gone from intense grief and resentment of her and the world to a fuller understanding and admiration of the person she was, and a respect for the world around him. Now, as he approaches graduation time, Rivers can taste victory. Of the last 15 classes he has taken, he has earned a 4.0 in 13 of them, putting him on the Dean’s List for four consecutive semesters and likely resulting in a 3.5 GPA when he graduates.

In the years ahead, Rivers sees himself working on hard criminal cases, owning property, working at both passive incomes and vacation destinations, and traveling the world with the one he loves. Given his skills in photography, he may even start a film production company. But as he pursues law school and a career, his work in Augsburg’s student government will likely be useful, as will advice and encouragement from his lawyer father, Bruce ’91, who is especially pleased about his son’s progress. Bruce says, “It is only through hard work and perseverance that this fine young man has achieved all that he has.” He must be especially gratified that Michael has chosen to pursue the same career path as he did.

–by Cheryl Crockett ‘89

Important Images Linked to Augsburg’s History

Throughout the month of April, we will be featuring images that are core to the history of Augsburg. These images are featured in “Hold Fast to What is Good” by Professor Phillip Adamo – a book to commemorate Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial looking back from 1869 to today.

Augsburg Shovel
This shovel is so important to Augsburg’s history that it even has a name. Learn more in “Hold Fast to What is Good.”
lectern
This lectern is the oldest piece of furniture on Augsburg’s campus, dating to at least 1916. Augsburg professors still lecture from this lectern, but they also teach in other ways. A deeper history of teaching at Augsburg can be found in “Hold Fast to What is Good.”
newspaper ad
This ad from a Norwegian newspaper enticed Augsburg’s founders to come to America. It’s a fascinating story that can be found in “Hold Fast to What is Good.”
bell
This bell was given to Augsburg at its founding in 1869, but now the bell resides at Augustana University in Sioux Falls. Did they steal it? The story behind this image can be found in “Hold Fast to What is Good.”

 

How to order “Hold Fast to What is Good”

We are accepting preorders of one or more hardcover, limited edition, boxed copies of this book through May 1, 2019.

Price: $162.04 (this price includes tax)

Select the “Hold Fast to What is Good” Book Event to order online today.

Attendees at the Sesquicentennial Gala will be able to pick up their books that evening. Other orders will be delivered by mail in October 2019.

For more information about “Hold Fast to What is Good” by Professor Phillip Adamo, contact Vice President for Advancement Heather Riddle at 612-330-1177 or riddle@augsburg.edu.

All Are Welcome to the 612 Football Spring Scrimmage

football
Augsburg vs Carleton Football. Courtesy of Kevin Healy 10-13-2018

You are invited to join Auggie Football for a final practice/scrimmage before the Auggies International Spring Game.

The 2019 spring semester is a unique one for the Augsburg football team because it will culminate with international travel to face the Winnipeg Rifles on Sunday, May 5, at 11 a.m. Before that game takes place, the team will complete their NCAA allotment of padded practices, which is what really makes this situation unique.

In a normal spring semester, NCAA Division III football universities are not permitted to conduct padded practices. All practice must be in shorts and a t-shirt. No contact at all is permitted. The only time a provision is made is if an institution is playing an international spring game. Thus, Augsburg football is one of very few Division III teams that will get an opportunity to practice in full pads this spring.

Our final practice/scrimmage will be on Saturday, April 27, at 1 p.m. There is an open invitation for any alumni (including those who did not play football or any sport) to come and enjoy the scrimmage. We also plan on inviting recruits and parents of our current student-athletes. It will be a great day with a lot of energy and excitement in the air. Please join us for this unique opportunity!

Schedule of Events:

12:30: Arrival and Check-in

1:00: Fast Pace & High Energy-Practice Starts (Fast start – OL vs DL 1v1/Skill 1v1 catch & shake)

2:30: Game Ends

Please register for this event so we know how many to expect. If you have any question, please contact Tunde Agboke via email at Agboke@Augsburg.edu

Join Us for Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Gala

Update: This event is over halfway sold out!

Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime event. On Friday, September 27, 2019, we kick off Augsburg’s sesquicentennial with a gala in downtown Minneapolis. This gala will acknowledge our history of pursuing the calling to serve the community, and it will rally our energetic support for the next 150 years of Augsburg University.

During this unprecedented evening, we will share stories of gratitude and hope for the future. We will celebrate with friends who have been a part of the community: alumni, parents, faculty, and staff. We’ll enjoy moments to reflect, share, and give while surrounded by the relationships that have always been at the heart of Augsburg.
We look forward to seeing you there.

—Darcey Engen ’88 and Jeff Swenson ’79
Sesquicentennial Committee co-chairs

Event Details

Friday, September 27, 2019

4:30 p.m. Reception, 6 p.m. Program

Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot

225 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55401

This event will likely sell out. Order today to reserve your place.

Learn more about the Sesquicentennial and subscribe to our calendar.

What’s Inside Augsburg’s Newest History Book?

Throughout the month of April, we will be featuring images that are core to the history of Augsburg. These images are featured in “Hold Fast to What is Good” by Professor Phillip Adamo – a book to commemorate Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial looking back from 1869 to today.

Cartoon drawing
In 1890, cartoonist Herbjørn Gausta poked fun at Augsburg president Georg Sverdrup, shown here fighting a dragon called St. Olaf College. Read more about the early history of Augsburg in “Hold Fast to What is Good.”
whale bone
There’s a whalebone at Augsburg in the attic of Old Main. That’s right. A whalebone! It’s a fascinating story that can be found in “Hold Fast to What is Good.”
burning effigy of Nixon
In May 1970, Augsburg students set fire to an effigy of President Richard M. Nixon. There’s more to this story that can be found in Augsburg’s newest history book “Hold Fast to What is Good.”
plaque for Communication Center
This plaque hides a secret from Augsburg’s past that is so dark the plaque itself is hidden in a hallway on Augsburg’s campus. The secret can be found in Augsburg’s newest history book “Hold Fast to What is Good.”

How to order “Hold Fast to What is Good”

We are accepting preorders of one or more hardcover, limited edition, boxed copies of this book through May 1, 2019.

Price: $162.04 (this price includes tax)

Select the “Hold Fast to What is Good” Book Event to order online today.

Attendees at the Sesquicentennial Gala will be able to pick up their books that evening. Other orders will be delivered by mail in October 2019.

For more information about “Hold Fast to What is Good” by Professor Phillip Adamo, contact Vice President for Advancement Heather Riddle at 612-330-1177 or riddle@augsburg.edu.

Join the Inaugural Auggie Beer Choir

beer choirDo you like to sing? Do you like to support Auggies?

We hope that you will join us for the inaugural kick off of the Auggie Beer Choir on Tuesday, April 16 from 6:30-9 p.m. open to all Augsburg alumni. We are delighted to be able to gather at the Auggie alumni-owned Boom Island Brewing Company. This event is free to all participants. The option to upgrade for purchase of a meal will be available through Tuesday, April 9. Please note that all beverages (both beer and non-alcoholic choices) are available for purchase on your own. Register today to help us keep an accurate count for music.

The song selection will be a mix of Auggie choir favorites and drinking songs led by Augsburg music directors.

We hope you will “Stay with Us”, and “Look to this Day” as we remember that “In Heaven, there is no Beer”…Manga Tussen!

An Exclusive Look at the Images in “Hold Fast to What is Good”

Throughout the month of April, we will be featuring images that are core to the history of Augsburg. These images are featured in “Hold Fast to What is Good” by Professor Phillip Adamo – a book to commemorate Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial looking back from 1869 to today.

Athletic charms
Up until 1989, women b-ballers at Augsburg used to get a little “charm” like this one, instead of an athletic “letter” for their jackets. Learn the whole story behind this image in “Hold Fast to What is Good.”
Does a Norwegian sweater work with my hijab?
Does a Norwegian sweater work with my hijab? Of course, it does. The story of our unique Augsburg community can be found in “Hold Fast to What is Good.”
1898 Augsburg Chapel altar painting of Jesus.
An Augsburg professor preaching in Norway inspired the gift of this 1898 altar painting of Jesus. In 2014, Augsburg commissioned a new altar painting showing a different kind of Jesus. Learn the whole story in “Hold Fast to What is Good.”

How to order “Hold Fast to What is Good”

We are accepting preorders of one or more hardcover, limited edition, boxed copies of this book through May 1, 2019.

Price: $162.04 (this price includes tax)

Select the “Hold Fast to What is Good” Book Event to order online today.

Attendees at the Sesquicentennial Gala will be able to pick up their books that evening. Other orders will be delivered by mail in October 2019.

For more information about “Hold Fast to What is Good” by Professor Phillip Adamo, contact Vice President for Advancement Heather Riddle at 612-330-1177 or riddle@augsburg.edu.

More Than 1000 Alumni and Community Members Gathered for the Aquarium Expo 2019 in the Hagfors Center

If you missed your chance to visit the Aquarium Expo 2019 in the Hagfors Center this year, you can catch the highlights reel here! The Hagfors Center was packed with more than 1000 people on Saturday, March 23. Attendees of this free event enjoyed creative displays of more than 100 aquaria, presentations from local experts, live demonstrations, and a marketplace.

The Augsburg University Biology Department offered a behind-the-scenes tour of the Hagfors Center to small groups. Professor Bill Capman led the tours showcasing the design and function of the state-of-the-art coral reef/marine aquaria he maintains in the lab. Capman also highlighted the up-and-coming marine breeding lab he is currently setting up. Capman shared his thoughts after the event:

“It really seemed like our visitors were enjoying themselves and were impressed by what they were seeing and experiencing, and by the quality of our facilities. It is one thing to do a lot of publicity and draw people in, but it is another thing to have them actually be happy that they came.” – Bill Capman, Associate Professor of Biology

Check out some great footage from the event courtesy of Natural Dental’s Chue Cha:

 

A-Club Hosts Happy Hour at Finnegan’s Brewery for Alumni and Auggie Athletics Supporters

Spring Happy HourIt’s been a record-setting year for Augsburg Athletics and we can’t wait to celebrate the kick off of the Spring Season.

The A-Club is hosting its third Happy Hour at alumna-owned Finnegan’s Brewery in the beautiful Brewers Den on Wednesday, March 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. At the event, you will have the chance to hear from Baseball Coach Keith Batman, Softball Coach Melissa Lee ’04, Lacrosse Coach Kathryn Knippenberg, and Track and Field Coach Keith Barnier.

A-Club members, athletic alumni and Auggie Athletics supporters are invited to enjoy complimentary food, beer, and parking. Attendees are invited to bring a nonperishable food item for the Finnegans Reverse Food Truck. Please RSVP your attendance.

Bring Your Passion for Augsburg to the Alumni Board

Augsburg Alumni BoardIf you’ve ever had ideas about how to better engage the alumni at Augsburg or wanted to reconnect with your alma mater and current students, you would be a perfect candidate for our Alumni Board. Serving on the Augsburg Alumni Board is a fantastic opportunity to connect with other alumni and influence the programming we offer to our alumni, parents, and friends.

The Board allows you to become an Augsburg Insider and to build close connections with alumni from various class years and majors. As a Board member, you will regularly hear from the President and Senior Leadership. The board’s ideas and opinions have also been sought around topics such as the name change to Augsburg University and our next strategic plan.

The Alumni Board is currently accepting applications for volunteers to join the board and alumni are welcomed and encouraged to apply.

The board has different committees focused on all areas of engagement, giving and more for you to serve on and focus on what you are most passionate.

To  find out more you can read the job description or contact Alumni Director Katie (Koch) Code’01 at codek@augsburg.edu

the board at homecomingThe Board’s mission

The Alumni Board is a governing body of the Augsburg Alumni Association. The board exists to guide the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations of Augsburg University in serving the valued alumni, parents and friends by providing resources and opportunities to engage alumni with the College and each other through consistent communication, inclusive programming, and intentional relationship building.

_____________________

It is the desire of the Augsburg Alumni Board that the board is well represented in regards to class years, colleges (day school, AU/WEC, graduate programs) community diversity and experiences. All applications will be reviewed in conjunction with the current make-up of the board at the time the application is received. In the event that you are not selected, your application will remain on file and you may be contacted later to gauge your continued interest.

It is the policy of this organization to provide equal opportunities without regard to race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual preference, age, or disability.