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No Time Limit on Returning to College

Headshot of Kevin FjelstedKevin Fjelsted ’18, MBA ’20 is one of many Augsburg students who graduated during the pandemic. However, Kevin’s higher education story has a unique beginning. While most of Augsburg’s recent graduates started their higher education in the last four or five years, Kevin started in 1973.

Kevin graduated from high school in the 70’s and as he thought about college, he wasn’t particular about where he would go. He admits he wasn’t heavily involved in picking Augsburg.

“My grandparents wanted me to go to Augsburg. They told me to look at Augsburg and I said ‘fine,’” says Kevin.

He started at Augsburg in 1973 and took a few classes during the fall and January interim semesters. But Augsburg didn’t have what Kevin was looking for at the time, so he transferred to the University of Minnesota in 1974 where he also worked at the U of M’s Computer Center.

Shortly after, Kevin began working full-time as an operating systems programmer at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. Over the next fifteen years, he worked for a few companies – including IDS Financial Services, McGraw-Hill, and American Express – before going out on his own as a systems consulting and programming service provider. He took computer science courses here and there, but never focused on a degree because he was working full time.

In 2010, Kevin decided to go back to school and finish his degree in computer science.

“My default was to go back to the U of M,” says Kevin. “But there were two problems. One, the lecture size. There were over 100 people in my computer science classes. And two, I needed accessibility. I needed books in braille and although the U of M has a large disability resource center employee count wise, they didn’t have the experience accommodating a blind person.”

Kevin knew Kathy McGillivray from the National Federation of the Blind, and knew she was the director in Augsburg’s CLASS Office.

“We talked about smaller classes that were actually taught by the professors, unlike the U of M having Teaching Assistants do a lot of the teaching. Kathy knew what I needed for accommodations as well. She was an ally in the whole process. We worked together through accessibility for both my computer science undergraduate degree and the MBA program. Once we got that solved, it was great!”

Kevin completed his undergraduate computer science degree in 2018 and immediately started in Augsburg’s Master of Business Administration program, graduating in the winter of 2020.

Now he is working with a business colleague on building a couple company’s telecommunications space and Voice over Internet Protocol and Omnichannel call center solutions. Kevin is also excited about starting an A.I. venture in the near future.

Despite the process taking almost 50 years from start to graduation, Kevin is thankful for his time at Augsburg. He’s particularly thankful for the professors he studied with.

“I didn’t have a single negative experience with a professor at Augsburg, even going back to the 70’s. I had a great calculus professor and psychology professors. George Dierberger, the MBA director, has pulled in great adjunct professors who are the best in the industry. You can respect and trust the information from the professor because they have the knowledge and industry experience.”

When asked why others should consider a degree in computer science at Augsburg versus another university, Kevin pointed out that Augsburg uses the same program as the U of M for their undergraduate computer science program.

“They use the same textbooks, the same curriculum. At the U of M, you have 100 plus people in a class, but shrink that down to 25 people at the high end at Augsburg, and that is a significant difference. Yes, Augsburg has teaching assistants and tutors like the U of M, but they don’t have the same concept where the professor pushes all the work onto the teaching assistant. At Augsburg you have direct interface and direct communication with the professors.”

A legacy of tremendous advancement at Augsburg

After nearly nine years of advancement work and leading two of Augsburg University’s most successful fundraising campaigns, Heather Riddle, vice president for Institutional Advancement, has accepted a position as senior vice president and chief development officer for American Public Media and Minnesota Public Radio (MPR).

“Under Heather’s leadership, generous Auggies have given millions of dollars for strategic campus improvements, created new scholarships for talented Augsburg students, and made impacts well into the future. I am thrilled for Heather and confident in the great group of Augsburg advancement leaders she’s encouraged, who will continue the culture of generosity at Augsburg moving forward,” says Matt Entenza, chair of Augsburg’s Board of Regents

Heather on a 2016 hard hat tour of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion.
Heather on a 2016 hard hat tour of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion.

Heather joined Augsburg in September 2012, during the capital campaign for the Norman and Evangeline Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion. Under Heather’s leadership, that campaign successfully raised more than $55 million from more than 1,000 donors. Heather herself closed three of the largest gifts for the Hagfors Center campaign, totaling more than $25 million.

“Heather’s leadership in Institutional Advancement has been nothing short of transformational,” says Robert Groven, associate professor of Communication Studies, Film & New Media, and director of the Minnesota Urban Debate League at Augsburg. “She built a true culture of collaboration and philanthropy across campus and throughout Augsburg’s worldwide network of alumni. Heather’s creativity and relationships helped to break nearly every fundraising record in Augsburg history!”

Heather’s commitment to lead Augsburg’s development and constituent relations work has made a great impact on the university. During her time at Augsburg, Heather helped reimagine alumni relations and supervised an Alumni Board that has hosted many successful events in recent years, including Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Gala and Homecoming in 2019. She has also helped lay the foundation for Augsburg’s first ever All School Reunion, to take place Fall 2022.

Beyond Heather’s fundraising skills was her ability to build an exceptional team in Institutional Advancement. The team has been working hard on the quiet phase for Augsburg’s next campaign, the Great Returns Campaign, which is already poised to reach a level of giving that will make it the largest single campaign in Augsburg history.

Heather with artist Rory Wakemup at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion.
Heather with artist Rory Wakemup at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion.

“When I first met Heather, it was obvious that she found joy in both the art and science of philanthropic fundraising. When she came to Augsburg nine years ago, she brought that joy, along with her strong professional experience and skills, and helped transform the culture of philanthropy for our university. There are obvious signs of her good workthe Hagfors Center, the Great Returns Campaign, Give to the Max Day records, and so onbut perhaps most importantly, she has invited all of us into the wonder of how philanthropy can transform an institution. Heather’s impact on Augsburg will be clear well into our next 150 years,” says President Paul Pribbenow.

President Pribbenow has asked Assistant Vice President of Advancement, Amy Alkire, to serve as interim vice president for Advancement. Assistant Vice President for Special Projects Sarah Erkkinen and Senior Director of Advancement Kristen Cooper will work closely with Amy and President Pribbenow on organizational planning during this transition.

The Augsburg Community shares our gratitude for Heather’s work as she embarks on a new adventure. We thank her for her unyielding commitment and dedication over the past nine years and wish her all the best.

Augsburg Alumna Joins U of M’s Board of Regents

Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74 (Contributed photo by Mayo Clinic)
Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74
Contributed photo by Mayo Clinic

Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74 has been elected to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota, representing the First Congressional District. She credits her time on Augsburg’s board as a major contribution to her being elected to the U of M’s board.

Augsburg University

Ruth had a number of influences that led her to choose Augsburg as an undergraduate. She grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs, so she knew of Augsburg. Her family was also active in their large, vibrant Lutheran congregation, where Dr. Ted Hanwick, Augsburg’s first chairman of the Physics Department, was also a member. Ruth sought a college with excellent academics, a Lutheran faith background, with a preference for an urban location. Dr. Hanwick encouraged her to explore Augsburg.

Halfway through her senior year of high school, Ruth’s father passed away. During his illness, she spent time in hospitals with her father. Also, since age 16, she had worked in the hospital pharmacy where her father was Chief of Pharmacy. All these experiences pivoted her interests to pre-med.

“My first love was languages and I planned to pursue a Ph.D. in English or Spanish. But all I saw in hospitals moved me to a career in medicine. There’s so much a person can do in terms of advances in science and in patient care, all of which can make such a difference in people’s lives,” says Ruth.

After graduating summa cum laude with majors in chemistry and biology and a minor in religion, Ruth went on to graduate from Mayo Medical School and completed her internal medicine residency at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.

Ruth was the first woman associate director of the Internal Medicine Residency program at Mayo Clinic and chaired the Bioethics Courses at Mayo Medical School. She later devoted 17 years to the Mayo Clinic MD-PhD Admissions Committee. She founded the Mayo Diagnostic Breast Clinic in 1993. It was shortly after this that then Augsburg President Charles Anderson invited Ruth to join the Board of Regents. Dr. John Holum, an Organic Chemistry professor and one of Ruth’s favorite professors at Augsburg, recommended her.

“I thought, ‘I love Augsburg and this is a great chance to re-engage in a new way and contribute to the college.’ It was a very meaningful experience,” says Ruth.

Early on in her stint as a board member, Ruth was involved in the fundraising and celebration of the Lindell Library, which opened in 1997. By the late 90’s, she was helping with foundational work that would lead to the creation of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion. Among the work Ruth is proudest of during her time as a Regent is sparking the idea for Augsburg’s Rochester Campus.

“My work with nurses at Mayo Clinic made me aware that many nurses in Rochester were certificate RN’s without a baccalaureate degree. Because of this, their career advancement was limited and there was no readily available way to complete a BSN. Augsburg’s Weekend College had already had years of experience offering degree programs for adults. I went to then President Bill Frame and suggested Augsburg create a degree program in Rochester.”

University of Minnesota

In 2020, Ruth was approached by the alumni and friends of the University of Minnesota to join their Board. Her educational leadership at Mayo Clinic was well known, as was her 16 years on Augsburg’s Board of Regents.

“When you’re on a board, it’s about governance, higher level, big picture thinking. It’s not managing, that’s the administration’s job. My 16 years with three different presidents at Augsburg meant I knew how a board functions, this was a strong background for me,” says Ruth. “Augsburg also has a really excellent reputation among legislators, they know Augsburg has done good work and they know those values are part of my work.”

Ruth was elected in a joint legislative session held on March 15, 2021 for a six-year term.

Augsburg will always be part of Ruth’s life, though. At Augsburg, Ruth loved getting to know fellow regents, alumni, faculty, and students. Ruth is also married to Phil Quanbeck II, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Augsburg University.

“It’s a great place and a privilege to be involved with such an incredible group of people.”

She is now looking forward to her work with the U of M, and to connecting to the people she will work with over the next six years.

The Man in the Pines – one Auggie’s quest to find a story

The Man in the Pines-NashPer Minnesota tradition, David Nash ’06 first met the giant, talking Paul Bunyan in Brainerd, Minnesota when he was really young, and it left a lasting impression. So a few years ago when picking an American folklore to read to his son, it was obvious to David he should read the story of Paul Bunyan. Unfortunately, his son wasn’t that interested in tales of Paul and Babe the Blue Ox.

David has always enjoyed writing music, so he wrote a song about Paul to sing to his son, imagining if Paul was a real person. He wondered what if Paul’s story was a bit sadder, and perhaps we were taking advantage of his story and turning it into something else to get the happy folklore that it is now.After writing the song, David played it at an open mic and people really enjoyed it. Later, he heard an interview of a musician he listens to who mentioned they wrote a book based off a song.

“It occurred to me: why does my song have to be the end of the story?”

After his kids went to bed one summer night in 2018, David sat down and started writing. Then it was every night when the kids went to bed. He’d sit down in a chair and write and write and write.

“It all came on suddenly, almost to the point that it felt kind of like a sickness. It was like I couldn’t get better until the story was all written down.”

By researching the history of logging in Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as the great Hinckley fire, David aimed to write a historically accurate novel with American folklore, historical ecology, Native American spirituality, and love.

When a draft was complete, the next step was publication. David’s wife, alumna Sara (Holman) Nash ’06, suggested he reach out to Augsburg’s English Department. Sara is an English major graduate from Augsburg and connected David with Professor Emerita Kathryn Swanson.

“Kathy Swanson and the English Department helped me look for publishers and things to consider in terms of what makes the project marketable, and writing resources.”

Two publishers accepted David’s book: one was from Oregon and the other, Orange Hat Publishing, is located in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

“I went with the Waukesha publisher. Being more local, I felt a good connection with their owner, who went to the same high school as me.”

After rounds of formal editing and book designs, The Man in the Pines was ready to be released. A book launch party was planned for April 2020 at a local brewery in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The party and book tour was going to be accompanied by David’s The Man in the Pines music.

However, the current pandemic prevented the party from happening and canceled the book tour.

“With COVID, self-promotion is hard right now. As a musician, I thrive more off immediate interaction with people, in-person.”

David isn’t giving up, though. He still released the book in March and did an online reading with a few other authors. He also hosted an online concert with one other musician, during which David explained a few stories from book and played songs. When it’s safe to do so, he will tour with his book and accompanying songs, and have a proper launch party in La Crosse.

One surprising thing David learned about himself while writing The Man in the Pines is that he really likes writing.

“If someone would have told me I would enjoy writing a book, it would have been hard to comprehend. I like that you can start with an idea and you may not know your destination. I like writing myself out of problems. It can be frustrating, but also gratifying to discover the journey of your characters as you write.”

Photo from alumna Lauren (Falk) McVean ‘06. Photo credit Lauren B Photography (laurenbfalk.com).

David had an early connection to Augsburg. His mom, Susan Nash, Ed.D., has been a nursing professor at Augsburg’s Rochester campus since 1998, and his older brother, Collin, played hockey at Augsburg. David was a biology major and also played hockey. He met his wife, Sara, their senior year in college, at a mutual friend’s birthday party.

Today, David is a Pediatric Ophthalmologist and Strabismologist at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife and two children, where they spend most of their time outdoors, kayaking, jogging, fly and trout fishing, hiking, painting, and practicing photography.

“I have more interests and hobbies than I have time for!”

New Jobs Postings at Augsburg University

Augsburg AAugsburg currently has 25 employment opportunities posted on our online jobs board.

If you are the type of person who would enjoy working in a mission-driven environment and you are looking for an opportunity to become part of a diverse campus community, please apply!

“It’s incredibly exciting, enriching, and rewarding to be a part of the vibrant Augsburg community. The University is a microcosm of all that’s happening across the globe; the stories I hear from alumni, students, and parents never cease to inspire.” — Kevin Vollmers, Director of Leadership Gifts

 

Alumni, parents, and friends of Augsburg are encouraged to consider these openings and to refer candidates who may be a great match.

See what our alumni say about coming back to work for their alma mater:

“Coming back and working for Augsburg is like coming home; it’s a place that is not only familiar but there’s an innate sense of calm and a high comfortableness knowing that you are working for a place that you already believe in, trust in, and feel yourself at.” — Shonna Fulford ’09, Associate Director, Undergraduate Admissions

“The hype is true. Since I’ve started, I’ve had friends reach out to me and ask if the growth and recognition Augsburg is getting is all real. Sure, the campus has changed, but all the changes feel right and good and in service of our students. The opportunities that our students now have are so exciting and it’s gratifying to see Augsburg thriving. It feels authentically Augsburg. Meeting with students even in the limited way that I do, fills me with immense pride.” — Katie (Koch) Code ’01, Director of Alumni and Constituent Relations

“As comfortable as I was on campus as a student, I’m even more comfortable as a staff member because of the progress we’ve made. I’m very proud to be an alumnus and even more so to be a staff member because of the initiatives we take. I get to see those initiatives in action on a daily basis.” — Scott Cooper ’13, Alumni Engagement Manager


All available positions are posted online. Applicants must fill out the online application and submit their resume to be considered for a position. Go to Employment Opportunities to view our most current available positions.

Augsburg University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer We are committed to providing equal employment opportunity to all applicants and employees regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, military service, protected veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law. If you need a reasonable accommodation to complete our application process, please contact our Human Resources Department at phone number: 612-330-1058 or email: hr@augsburg.edu.

Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Gala – Join the Waitlist

Update: This event is now sold out. If you are interested in being added to the waitlist, please follow the registration link and add your name. We will let you know as soon as possible if we have ticket(s) available!

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.

Episode 3 of The Augsburg Podcast: Bob Groven: The Power of Constructive Debate

The Augsburg Podcast features voices of Augsburg University faculty and staff. We hope this is one way you can get to know the people who educate our students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. Subscribe on Itunes.

bob groven
Associate Professor Bob Groven (Co-Chair of the Department of Communication Studies, Film and New Media, and the Director of the Minnesota Urban Debate League) breaks down the power of constructive debate as a force for positive change, understanding, and empathy in our society.

 

Season 2 Premiere of The Augsburg Podcast: Paul Pribbenow: Putting Students First

The Augsburg Podcast features voices of Augsburg University faculty and staff. We hope this is one way you can get to know the people who educate our students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. Subscribe on Itunes.

 

Paul Pribbenow
President Paul Pribbenow explores family, faith, and prioritizing the student experience of present and future Auggies.

 

Augsburg Hosts Bruce Shoemaker ’82 Book Launch for “Dead in the Water: Global Lessons for the World Bank’s Model Hydropower Project in Laos”

Dead in the Water coverSponsored by the McKnight Foundation and the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, a book launch for the release of “Dead in the Water: Global Lessons for the World Bank’s Model Hydropower Project in Laos,” by Bruce Shoemaker ’82 will be held on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Student Art Gallery in the Christensen Center.

The book “offers a new understanding of Laos in a difficult period of nation building and development [and] a vital lesson to policy planners, scholars, and INGOs encountering the illusory success of a globalizing economy,” according to the forward by Yos Santasombat.

About the Author

Bruce ShoemakerBruce Shoemaker is an independent researcher based in far northern California who focuses on natural resource conflict issues in the Mekong Region. Among his current projects is the preparation of an edited volume on the World Bank’s involvement in the Nam Theun 2 hydropower project in Laos, to be published by University of Wisconsin Press. He has lived in Laos for eight years and Thailand for three while working for a number of NGOs and subsequently was employed, for more than ten years, as the program advisor for the Southeast Asia Grants Program of The McKnight Foundation, helping the foundation focus its grant making around natural resource rights issues as well as support for Indigenous Peoples organizations and other grassroots community organizing. He has a particular interest in the impacts of large hydropower projects on the lives and livelihoods of local communities in the Mekong Region and has authored or co-authored numerous articles and reports in this field.

Grab Your Norwegian Sweaters for Velkommen Jul!

Velkommen Jul
Treats abound at the Velkommen Jul buffet.

As we near the holiday season, Co-Chair of the Augsburg Associates Jessica Wahto has a special message to share about an Augsburg favorite tradition:

Remember the days of walking into grandma’s kitchen at the holidays, and the smell of cardamom and sugar wafting through the air. Recall that trip you took to Norway and Sweden. The beauty of the Fjords, the colorful knit sweaters and the delicate embroidery on their bunad’s. Think of your exchange student who visited from Denmark and all the laughs you shared. Enjoy these memories and make new ones at Velkommen Jul!

Please join us and kick off your holiday season at Velkommen Jul on Friday, Nov. 30! Augsburg University’s annual Christmas celebration is open to all. Attend chapel and worship featuring Scandinavian Christmas music at 10:40 a.m. in the Hoversten Chapel. Then head to the Christensen Center at 11 a.m. Here you will find our Velkommen Jul boutique, offering unique Nordic gifts and treats.

After you have claimed your treasured gifts, join us for a festive celebration in Augsburg’s commons with music and traditional costumes and sweaters! Reminisce with friends and make new introductions while enjoying a smorgasbord of Scandinavian treats. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of coffee as well! You can add to the celebration by wearing your Norwegian sweater or Bunad! Velkommen means Welcome, and here at Augsburg you always are! We hope to see you there!

*All proceeds from the boutique as well as donations gathered at the smorgasbord go to help fund student scholarships.