Bing tracking

Exploring Augsburg’s “Radical Roots” – Purchase the new book today!

We are thrilled to share a new book published by some of our talented faculty and staff members! “Radical Roots: How One Professor Changed a University’s Legacy” tells the story of Augsburg University sociology professor Joel Torstenson ’38.

Co-authored by President Paul Pribbenow, Associate Professor Katie Clark, Professor Tim Pippert, and former staff member Green Bouzard, “Radical Roots” examines Torstenson’s legacy at Augsburg over the past 60 years. At the core is a story of transformation that outlines how Augsburg deepened its understanding of the public purposes of higher education by embracing its urban setting. The book offers lessons for colleges and universities across the country committed to democratic engagement in their work at the intersections of mission and place.

We hope readers who purchase the book feel inspired and have a renewed sense of commitment to the public work of higher education in a rapidly changing world.

Purchase a copy! 

Hear from the authors.

Augsburg Alumni Panel at Career Exploration Day 2024

On February 27, Augsburg hosted a Career Exploration Day for first-year students. One workshop offered to the students was titled, “Navigating the Journey: Things I wish I would have known as a first year Auggie.”

This workshop was led by the Augsburg Alumni Board and included Alumni Board members (Berlynn Bitengo ’21, Charlotte Deegan ’12, Ian Heseltine ’21, and Jay Lepper ’95) and other Augsburg Alumni (Kristin Bunge ’12, Lori Higgins ’94, Sarah Korbel ’12, and Chase Webber ’20).

Over the course their two workshops, seven alumni panelists and one alumnus facilitator spoke to around 70 students about their various career journeys and experiences at and after Augsburg.

Thank you to our amazing Alumni for giving back to Augsburg and sharing their wisdom, offering bits of their stories, and helping first-year students to think about what they can do now to prepare for their careers in the future.

Auggie Spotlight: Devoney Looser ’89

Meet Devoney Looser ’89, BA (English) minors in French and communication, summa cum laude, with Honors. Devoney is an internationally recognized expert on the history of women’s writings, feminist literary criticism, and Jane Austen—has worked in higher education for thirty years. She is Regents Professor of English and Global Sport Scholar at Arizona State University, where she’s taught since 2013 and a recipient of this year’s Augsburg Distinguished Alumni Award.
What keeps you busy these days? I’m working on a new book, Wild for Austen, for St. Martin’s Press, for publication in fall 2025, to coincide with the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Austen’s birth. For play, I’m skating with a wonderful roller derby team, Roughneck Roller Derby, in Tulsa, OK. (I work in Arizona, but I spend weekends with my husband and our younger son in Tulsa.)
How did Augsburg shape your path? Augsburg completely transformed my path. I was a first-generation college student, who needed (and received!) not only financial support but a lot of guidance. I started college as a shy and quiet student; I ended up with so many opportunities to grow, through student leadership roles in the newspaper, yearbook, and literary magazine, as well as the orientation program and the library, where I worked. Augsburg’s faculty and staff shaped—and still shape—my path, through their generous sharing of wisdom, support, and opportunities.
Who is an Auggie (alumni, faculty/staff, friend, etc.) that has impacted you and why? The fact that there are so many Augsburg faculty and staff I could name who had a positive impact on me is inspiring, right? The one I’d like to mention here is English Professor Cathie Nicholl. Cathie is the person who first suggested I should go to graduate school. What she said during an advising session was, “Don’t drop your French class. You’ll need that for graduate school.” I always joke that, at this moment, I thought to myself, “Wait a minute! I’m going to graduate school?” But there’s some truth to that! It’s a moment that felt like a light bulb going off in my head, and her support and encouragement is what set me on the path to the PhD and to a career as an academic and a writer.
What is a fun or favorite memory of your time at Augsburg? I have very happy memories of our rushing to meet late-night editing and production deadlines for the Echo newspaper. That’s where I first started to drink coffee but, more importantly, made lifelong friends. I also remember fondly a winter night hanging out with Echo staff, including co-editor Steve Aggergaard, that ended with our making snow angels in Murphy Square.
Thank you Devoney!

Give back to Augsburg by joining the Alumni Board

Augsburg is looking to add additional members to it’s Alumni Board starting this summer. Are you passionate about keeping alumni connected to Augsburg? Do you want to think creatively about ways to connect alumni with current students? Do you like helping to bring Auggies together at various events? If you’re interested, please reach out to Nate Berkas at berkasn@augsburg.edu to learn more.

The Augsburg Alumni Board is an opportunity for alumni from all programs and class years to build relationships with each other and the University today. Members connect with institution leaders, faculty, and students to better understand and support the mission. For more information, visit the Alumni Board page.

Auggie Spotlight: Navid Amini ’19, MBA

Navid Amini
Meet Navid Amini ’19, MBA. Navid is serving his third year on the Alumni Board and is the Augsburg Alumni Board President 2023-24.
What keeps you busy these days? Spending time with my children (12, 10, and 5). I current serve as the Director of Client Strategy for Laguna Health which is a Healthtech AI company transforming care management. I enjoy playing the piano when I find time and traveling to my second home in Florida.
Who motivates you? I have seven brothers who serve as my personal “board of directors” and they inspire me immensely and push me hard to continue thriving.
How did Augsburg shape your path? Attaining my MBA from Augsburg taught me a lot about myself as a person and instilled the spirit of paying it forward. I am honored to continue remaining connected with the institution through the Alumni Board.
What is a fun or favorite memory of your time at Augsburg? Slamming coffees late at night with my team as we figured out how to draft the best market analysis report out there!
Thank you Navid!
Auggie Spotlight is a new project that will feature Augsburg Alumni in all walks of life, and further connections in our Augsburg Alumni community. If you would like to be in the spotlight, or if you’d like to nominate another alumni, please fill out this form.

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.

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!

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.