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Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74 and Philip A. Quanbeck II lead a pilgrimage tour to Israel and Palestine

Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74, and Philip A. Quanbeck II, religion professor emeritus, will lead a pilgrimage tour to IA large group of people smile for the photo in front of the Jerusalem city background srael and Palestine on May 20 – 31 with an optional extension to Jordan on May 31-June 3, 2023. 

Dr. Ruth and Dr. Phil led four tours to Greece and Turkey with Augsburg University students in 2003, 2005, and 2007, and with adults in 2008. They also led an Augsburg alumni tour to Israel in 2012, and most recently, in 2017, they led their own tour to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, which included a number of Auggies.

“We had a good group ready to go in May 2020 but COVID hit and we had to cancel,” they said. Adding, that conditions are now very favorable again for travel to the Holy Land.

Currently, they are working with a travel agency in Bethlehem called Shepherds Tours, which is closely associated with Dar Al-Kalima University and the Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb. Mitri Raheb and Dar Al Kalima have ties to Augsburg. Several Augsburg faculty including Jacqui DeVries have been to Dar Al Kalima in recent years, and Mitri Raheb has visited Augsburg on several occasions.

Ruth and Philip smile next to each other posing for a picture outside in front of an old middle eastern building Johnson and Quanbeck’s tours visit well-known biblical sites associated with both Old Testament and New Testament stories and figures. They will visit the Galilee region and Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Masada, and Jerusalem. And Bethlehem on the West Bank. They also engage current realities in Israel and the West Bank (Palestine). The extension to Jordan will include Petra, the area of building carved in red rock. 

“We also meet with the Parents’ Circle Family Forum which is an Israeli and Palestinian group of parents who share their losses of children in the struggle,” they said. “We visit an Israeli settlement on the West Bank and a refugee camp operated by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, camps which are a remnant of the 1948 war.”

Johnson and Quanbeck encourage Augsburg alumni and friends to join them on the next pilgrimage and experience the tour firsthand. 

View the Quanbeck Tour Brochure

Register today!

Celebrating the Life of Dr. Peter Hendrickson ’76

Peter Hendrickson in a suit smiles at the camera sitting between stone pillars text reads Celebrating the life of Peter Henndrickson Saturday October 22 at 2 pm

Longtime Director of Choral Activities and Professor Emeritus, Dr. Peter Hendrickson, died this past June at the age of 67. A celebration of his life will be held at Hoversten Chapel on the campus of Augsburg on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 2:00. All are welcome to attend!

An important part of the memorial service will be a special choir made up of Augsburg alumni and former Masterworks Chorale singers who had the privilege of singing under Dr. Hendrickson. A short rehearsal, led by Mark Sedio and Nancy Grundahl, will take place at 12:30, just prior to the memorial service in Hoversten Chapel.

Tina Brauer in the Augsburg Music Department can be contacted with questions as needed (brauer@augsburg.edu). Music to be sung will be emailed to you in advance.

Register to sing in the alumni choir- https://forms.gle/tDJemuQDwviJueDG6

If you would like to be part of the memorial service choir, please RSVP- https://forms.gle/RPTZMD9JDzKEBBYs5

The Passing of Evangeline “Vangie” Hagfors

Evangeline “Vangie” Hagfors passed away peacefully on October 4, 2022 at her home. Evangeline Hagfors smiles in front of flowers for the photo

Vangie’s deep connection to Augsburg began when her father, Elnar Gundale ’33, emigrated from Norway and attended Augsburg Seminary. Vangie attended classes on Augsburg’s campus from 1957-1959 as part of the Nurse’s Training Program through the Lutheran Deaconess Hospital. And three of Vangie’s siblings – John Gundale ’67, Stephen Gundale ’70, and Ruth Gundale ’73 – also attended Augsburg.

Vangie married Norm, a University of Minnesota graduate, and together they had two children, Mark and Rachel. Norm joined Augsburg’s Board of Regents in 1989 and both Norm and Vangie have faithfully served on Augsburg’s President’s Council since its inception in 2018. They embodied Christ’s teaching to love your neighbor, a core tenant of Augsburg’s mission.

Dr. Paul Mueller ’84 shared, “We are saddened by the passing of Mrs. Vangie Hagfors and extend our condolences to our friend, Norm, and the entire Hagfors family. Vangie understood the tremendous value of an Augsburg education rooted in our Lutheran faith. Over the years, the Hagfors have been leading benefactors of Augsburg University. Their lead gift in 2015 resulted in the construction of the campus’ signature building, the Hagfors Center for Science, Business and Religion, in which our students—and future leaders—learn about and explore the intersections of these three disciplines.”

The Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion is a multi-discipline complex that opened in January of 2018 and serves more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year.

Norm and Vangie Hagfors visiting the construction site of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion with President Paul Pribbenow and architect Bill Blanski.
Norm and Vangie Hagfors visiting the construction site of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion with President Paul Pribbenow and architect Bill Blanski.
Vangie is pictured above ready to cut the ribbon and officially open the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion.
Vangie is pictured above ready to cut the ribbon and officially open the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion.

 


Vangie’s gentle and generous spirit will be missed dearly by the Augsburg community. She truly clothed herself in “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” as we read about in Colossians 3:12.

Evangeline “Vangie” and Norm Hagfors pictured together in the Gundale Chapel in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion on Augsburg’s campus.
Evangeline “Vangie” and Norm Hagfors pictured together in the Gundale Chapel in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion on Augsburg’s campus.

President Paul Pribbenow shared that “It is a most sad day for all of us who have come to know and love Vangie. Her historic ties to Augsburg through her father, the Rev. Elnar Gundale ’33, are fittingly celebrated in the beautiful Gundale Chapel in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, and her deep faith was an inspiration to all of us. One of the greatest joys of my time at Augsburg has been to witness the remarkable vision and generosity of Norm and Vangie, whose legacy is forever secure in the remarkable Hagfors Center – a transformative academic building that still takes my breath away with both its architectural beauty and its impact on our students and faculty each day. Along with her family and friends, we grieve Vangie’s death and celebrate a life so faithfully led.”

The funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on Monday, October 24, at Saint Andrew’s Lutheran Church, 900 Stillwater Road, Mahtomedi. Visitation will be held from 3 PM to 6 PM on Sunday, October 23, at Bradshaw, 4600 Greenhaven Drive, White Bear Lake, and one hour prior to the service at church. Read Vangie’s official obituary.

Alisha Esselstein ’15 Joins The Manely Firm, P.C.

Alishia smiles in a black suit coat in front of a blue background for a portrait photoThe Manely Firm, P.C. is excited to announce its new associate attorney, Alisha Esselstein. The Manely Firm proudly practices family law throughout the state of Georgia and has the unique expertise of handling international family law cases all over the world. 

Esselstein is a graduate of University of Wisconsin Law School and received her undergraduate degree from Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota in International Relations. 

About Esselstein, Founding Attorney Michael Manely said, “We are very excited about Ms. Esselstein joining the firm, her international experiences will add more depth and breadth to the diverse experiences of the firm.”

Esselstein has extensive past-experience working with human rights and advocating against gender-based biases and has lived on every continent in the world (except Antarctica) and gained immense experience and knowledge from her immersion in these cultures. 

She says, “As your attorney, these experiences will allow me to understand the complexities of your situation and the legal knowledge to guide you through the processes to begin your new life.”

Esselstein will focus on Family Law and International Family Law in her new role with The Manely Firm, P.C.  

Great Returns: We’re All In – All School Reunion

Great Returns We're All in All-School Reunion October 6-8 2022 event co-chairs Jeff Nodland '77 and Becky Bjella-Nodland '79 Co-Chairs

Come back to Augsburg University for an event that has been years in the making, the first ever Great Returns: We’re All In – All School Reunion weekend starting Thursday, October 6th through Saturday, October 8th. 

Reminisce, reconnect, and reunite with your fellow Auggies during this in-person celebration. Enjoy festive foods and delicious drinks from Airlie Winery (Mary Olson ’74), Finnegans (Jacquie Berglund ’87), and Zevia. Experience music by Maryann Sullivan ’82 and The Money Makers, presented by Rock What You Got (Buffie Blesi ’90) – and that’s just Friday evening! 

And don’t forget to consider hosting an “Auggie Alcove” as a way for your special Auggie group to get together in a more personal way during Friday night’s festivities. 

“Auggie Alcoves” are rooms reserved within the Hagfors Center. There, your alumni network and Auggie friends can connect, celebrate the past, and create memories for the future. 

Space at this in-person event is limited. Please RSVP by Monday, October 3rd. RSVP TODAY!

AUGSBURG UNIVERSITY ALUMNI TACKLES CLIMATE CHANGE

five-year-old girl shovels dirt as man helps a two-year-old boy and four-year-old girl water the root of a tree in the ground, a crowd gathers around them
Five-year-old Julia Martinez shovels dirt as Jake Hennessey, of the DCR Massachusetts Urban and Community Forestry Program, assists Malikai DeTar-Kock, 2, and Sonorus Salem, 4, water the root ball of a tree they just set into the ground. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Recently, WBUR 90.9 FM (NPR) spoke with María Belén Power ’07, Augsburg University alumni and associate executive director with the Chelsea-based environmental group Green Roots, about the groundbreaking work her organization is doing to tackle climate change.

“That [starting small] has really been an approach that we take in a lot of our projects,” says Power. “Piloting small scale and ensuring that we can replicate those models to really have a much broader impact.”

Green Roots is a community-based organization dedicated to improving and enhancing the urban environment and public health in Chelsea and surrounding communities. We do so through deep community engagement and empowerment, youth leadership and implementation of innovative projects and campaigns.

Read full article

Nine Augsburg University Alumni Publish a Book Together with Crystal Lake Publishing

An image with text at the top that reads, "Who are we?" Below, there are black and white headshots of all the alumni. From left to right: Judy Niemi Johnson, Kate Tremaine, Jesse Lawrence, Jen Shutt, Amanda Symes, Jayne Carlson, Patricia Fox, Jen Kain, and Andrew MarksSince graduating from Augsburg University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, a few alumni have gathered monthly for a writing group. They affectionately call themselves the Dead Birds Writing Group, a name derived from the master’s program publishing house, Howling Bird Press. The group shares stories, studies writing techniques, and offers constructive criticism, all with an end goal of helping each other publish their writing.

“One of the best take-aways from the MFA program was that we were able to build a community of writers, with a variety of different talents in fiction, poetry, screenwriting, memoir, and publishing. The fact that we’re still meeting in person, over online chats, and emailing each other to workshop, is a testament to the teamwork habits we formed during our residencies and classes. It feels wonderful to still be collaborating on team projects together after nearly ten years,” says Jen Shutt ’13, MFA ’15

Last summer, the group worked on a unique writing prompt to write a flash fiction piece that contained the statement, “It could be anyone’s leg.”

“We ended up with a great collection of stories – ranging from humor to horror – and we decided to put them together in a book. We acted as editors for the stories, getting together to read through and discuss the collection. We were able to use many of the techniques our professors taught us in the MFA program,” says Amanda Symes ’09, MFA ’15.

The group queried a few publishers and quickly received interest from Crystal Lake Publishing.

“This has really been a fun romp through the writing, editing, and publishing process. It was sort of magical to see the writing prompt come to life in so many different stories. Going deeper into each one through editing them with Amanda and Jen [Shutt] drew on the workshopping skills we learned in the MFA program, and—confession—it may have been my favorite part. The group enjoyed the writing and publishing process so much that we are already discussing plans for our next writing prompt and publishing options,” says Jayne Carlson MFA ’16.

Knowing their professors would be excited to hear about the upcoming publication, the group also reached out to Professor Emerita Cass Dalglish – the MFA program’s founder – and asked her to review the collection. Professor Dalglish has this to say about their book:

"It Could be Anyone's Leg" book cover. The title of the book is against a black and red background that symbolizes dripping blood. A big black question mark is centered in the middle of the cover.It Could Be Anyone’s Leg” is an anthology of eerie tales – flash reactions by a flight of writers after each has discovered bones lying so very near their writing desks. Did the bones belong to a human? A neighbor? A friend? A beastie of the insect species? Or some other creature who has become only a fraction of itself? These authors call themselves the Dead Birds Writing Group. Is it any wonder that we call a pack of crows a murder?”

The eBook is available for order on Amazon!

Alumni included in the collection are:

Amanda Symes ’09, MFA ’15

Jayne Carlson MFA ’16

Jen Shutt ’13, MFA ’15

Judy Niemi Johnson MFA ’16

Jesse Lawrence MFA ’16

Kate Tremaine MFA ’16

Patricia Fox MFA ’17

Jen Kaine MFA ’17

Andrew Marks ’21

A New Health Facility in LaCrosse

On April 12, 2022, Augsburg’s Campaign Chair, Dr. Paul Mueller ’84 broke ground on the new state-of-the-art hospital that will be built in La Crosse. Paul Mueller is the Vice President of the Mayo Health Clinic System in Southwest Wisconsin. Numerous Auggies joined this special occasion!

A photo of the group in hard hats holding shovels with dirt. From Left to right,: Jill Billings, Sarah Erkkinen, Amy Alkire, Nancy Mueller, Paul Mueller, Lisa Archer, and Matt EntenzaPictured here with hard hats and shovels are Jill Billings ’89 (Member of Wisconsin State Assembly), Sarah Erkkinen (Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement), Amy Alkire (Vice President of Advancement), Nancy Mueller ’85 (Augsburg Regent), Lisa Archer MAN ’17 (Chief Nursing Officer for Mayo, La Crosse), and Matt Entenza (Augsburg’s Board Chair).

 

 

 

Read an additional article about this exciting initiative and check out more photos from this historic event:

 

A Call to Nursing

Lisa Archer HeadshotLisa Archer (MAN ’17) started her role as the Chief Nursing Officer at Mayo Health Clinic Systems in Southwest Wisconsin in December of 2021. After speaking with her, you’d never know that this was her second full-time career! Lisa’s self-described unconventional pathway to nursing and healthcare administration is a reminder that one’s vocation can be fulfilled at any time. “I used to work in the IT industry as a business analyst, but personal events led me to pursue nursing,” Lisa shared. “When my grandmother fell and broke her hip and had to transition to a nursing home, I had a really impactful conversation with a nursing assistant.” The Nursing Assistant noticed Lisa’s dedication to her grandma and the round-the-clock care she was providing to her. It was during this time that Lisa reflected on how she could best impact people’s lives. “I wanted to allow other people to go home at night and feel secure in knowing that their loved ones were safe and being taken care of.”

Shortly after this encounter, Lisa took on the crucial yet daunting experience of returning to school. “At that point, I’m not even sure how long I had been out of school,” Lisa mused. After prerequisite work and earning her two-year ADN degree at North Hennepin Community College, she went on to St. Kate’s to earn her BSN. While working at the University of Minnesota, part of the Fairview Health System, Lisa knew she wanted to earn her master’s and Augsburg’s transformational leadership track in the Nursing Program seemed like the perfect fit. “The location and diversity of the campus were big draws for me,” Lisa shared.

 

LEADERSHIP LESSONS

Lisa shared how Augsburg’s nursing program challenged her perspective through coursework and clinicals. She described tending to homeless peoples’ wounded feet and working with women in the Somali community made her confront the difficult question of: How do you impart your healthcare knowledge to groups that may hold distrust with the healthcare system or might not be familiar with Western medicine? “Knowing how to meet people where they are at (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically) allowed me to figure out ways to connect that came from an open and non-judgmental place.”

Someone Lisa credits in helping her navigate tough leadership situations is Joyce Perkins. “I took a class about quantum leadership with her and I’ve never wanted to drop anything so badly in my life!” she exclaimed. “Nurses are typically very analytical people, and I had a hard time grasping the abstract concepts,” Lisa admitted. However, in hindsight, that class was one of the best experiences because it helped prepare her to be the leader that was needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lisa’s Auggie connections have followed her to Mayo Health Clinic Systems where she works in close partnership with Dr. Paul Mueller (’84), a fellow Augsburg graduate and the chair of Augsburg’s Great Returns Campaigns . “We have a triad leadership model. I’m the lead for nursing, Paul is the physician leader, and we also work with Mike Morrey as the administrative leader.” Lisa explained. “Paul is a great person to work with. We are like-minded in our approaches on how to address issues associated with healthcare and finding ways to provide equal opportunity and combat disparities.” 

 

BUILDING RESILIENCE

Strong administrative leadership is critical during times of crisis. “A lot of the work leaders do is behind the scenes. We’re either trying to reinvent healthcare, obtain resources, remove and reduce barriers or create new processes.” Lisa said. Figuring out how to keep frontline workers motivated when they are experiencing emotional, mental, and physical burnout is an equally challenging feat. “It’s really tough. I think every nursing track should have a class on wellness and how to create an individual resiliency plan.” For Lisa, leadership has its limits. Removing barriers for her staff and creating an accommodating work environment will only get people so far. True happiness and fulfillment in a job have to come from within. One long-term goal for Lisa is making nursing school a feasible option for anyone who has the aspiration to become a nurse. “Creating more accessible programs that fit people’s lives and ensuring the nursing profession in this region and beyond is delivering high-quality and safe care are important to me,” she expressed.

Although she is still navigating her new role, the impact Lisa hopes to make in her field is resolute. “No matter who you are, everyone deserves access to healthcare,” Lisa reflected as she stated her desire to keep opportunities of centering safety, experience, and quality of care under her leadership. Leading with a safety lens is key to her philosophy. Tapping into more inclusive resources, and broadening accessibility gives Lisa hope for a safer and more equitable future in healthcare.

Finding Strength in Trials and Tribulations

Colleen sitting on the floor in a smock. Her artwork is displayed on the floor behind her.Colleen (Carstensen) Peterson aka “CeCe” graduated from Augsburg University in 2004 with a double major in Psychology and Religion and a triple minor. She has made it her life mission to help others see their strength through their trials and tribulations, something that she is infinitely familiar with. From being diagnosed with dyslexia at eight, being an Olympic-trained figure skater and enduring the abuse of her coaches, losing her brother at 25, to having a severely disabled son, CeCe has founded a non-profit and used art to find strength in challenging times. 

 

The birth of CeCe’s son and her frustration with not getting the right adaptive equipment to learn, play, and grow inspired the creation of her non-profit, Children’s Organization of Lending Equipment (The COLE Foundation). This mission of COLE is “connect costly adaptive equipment from children with disabilities who outgrow the equipment to other children who need it, at no cost. COLE provides a resource for families to browse and then Lend from our library of equipment.”

An image promoting her exhibitAnother outlet for CeCe has been her artwork. Her most recent work will be exhibited at Hallberg Center for the Arts (Wyoming, MN) from March 24 – April 16, 2022. Her intentions for her series, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes, are to reveal the struggle and loneliness but also the strength of womanhood. CeCe’s bold color palette creates the female form representing light, shadow, and space. Taking a closer look at each shape and stroke, the big and small events in life become a harmonious dance on canvas. 50% of the profits from each purchased painting will go to the COLE Foundation. Check out CeCe’s website: Www.CeCegallery.com.