Support for Associate Professor Mzenga Wanyama

(Updated May 2019)

Augsburg University is sharing this background about the immigration case involving Associate Professor Mzenga Wanyama to keep our campus and the public informed.

Status with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The Board of Immigration Appeals has granted Mzenga Wanyama’s motion to reopen the asylum application for him and his wife, Mary Mzenga, for another hearing. Their case will now be transferred back to the local immigration court in the Twin Cities where they will be allowed to present new evidence in support of the asylum application and application for cancellation of removal. This decision allows them to remain in the U.S. while the immigration court reviews their case.

On August 31, 2018, the Board of Immigration Appeals granted a stay of removal. As a result, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement couldn’t deport them until the Board issued a decision on the merits of the motion to reopen the asylum case.

ICE had previously informed them that they were required to depart the United States in October 2018.

Background
On April 5, 2018, Wanyama and his wife were informed in a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement that ICE would allow them 90 days to depart the United States. During a June 29, 2018 meeting ICE confirmed that it had extended their departure date from July 4, 2018 to August 3, 2018. The ICE office had asked them to return to the office on July 25, 2018 for a check-in.

On July 25, 2018, ICE then informed them that they would have to depart the United States on September 9, 2018. He was required to bring the plane tickets with a September 9 departure data to a check-in appointment with ICE on September 4, 2018. The September 9, 2018 departure was later extended 30 days.

Meanwhile, a motion to reopen Dr. Wanyama’s asylum application based on changed country conditions and a stay of removal was filed earlier that summer with the Board of Immigration Appeals. Once ICE was unwilling to use its discretionary authority any longer, his attorney requested the emergency review of the stay of removal that was granted August 31, 2018. If the stay had not granted, he and his wife would most likely have had to leave the U.S. in October 2018.

Augsburg University statements
Augsburg issued a statement from Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow following the Wanaymas’ April 5, 2018 ICE meeting, as well as statements before and following the previous ICE meeting, on March 9, 2018. These statements are posted below:

Augsburg University Faculty Senate statement
The Faculty Senate of Augsburg University wishes to express our unanimous and unconditional support for our friend and colleague, Professor Mzenga Wanyama. We urge all those who care about Professor Wanyama to consider signing the petition on his behalf at https://www.change.org/p/augsburg-university-support-augsburg-professor-mzenga-wanyama.

Augsburg University faculty statement
The Augsburg University faculty calls on the U.S. government to halt plans for the unjust deportation of our colleague Professor Mzenga Wanyama and his spouse and Augsburg nursing student Mary Mzenga and to permit their continued work and residence in the US. We stand against the anti-immigrant sentiment that is prompting the current wave of deportations and proudly affirm our status as an institution that supports the many immigrant and refugee members of our academic community.

Website
A website, www.mzenga.com, has been created by friends and supporters of Mzenga and Mary Wanyama. The site includes a statement from the Wanyamas, information about the next Immigration and Customs Enforcement meeting, and information about getting involved and providing support.

Work authorization and sponsorship
Augsburg University complies with federal law that requires employers to verify that employees are eligible to work in the United States. Professor Wanyama has authorization to work in the United States, issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Sponsorship for permanent resident status is not an option at this time due to a restriction related to a J-1 two-year home residency requirement. The two-year home residency requirement means that those who come to the U.S. in J-1 status cannot become permanent residents in the U.S., change status, or get work or family-based visa status until they return to their country of last permanent residence for at least two years cumulatively. A request to waive the two-year home residency requirement was filed several years ago, but the waiver was denied. Augsburg is working with legal counsel to pursue all options available to us under the current scenario.

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion Announces Move to Augsburg University

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion® will have a new home starting July 1 at one of the most diverse private colleges in the Midwest, Augsburg University.

Currently based at the University of St. Thomas, The Forum is the nation’s largest workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion conference designed for a national and global audience. Leaders from The Forum, Augsburg University, and the University of St. Thomas made the announcement April 17 at this year’s Forum at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  

“The Forum on Workplace Inclusion is excited to begin a new chapter with our move to Augsburg University,” said Steve Humerickhouse, executive director of The Forum. “The University of St. Thomas has been a great home for us for 23 of our 31 years. We will miss seeing our Tommie colleagues on a regular basis but look forward to meeting our new Auggie family and to the amazing things we can create together!”

The Forum has served as a convening hub for those seeking to grow professional leadership and effectiveness skills in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion by engaging people, advancing ideas, and igniting change.

As a member of the Governor’s Workforce Development Board, Augsburg University President Paul Pribbenow believes Augsburg’s inclusive Minneapolis campus, where undergraduate students of color total 47 percent, is a natural setting for The Forum to base its work.

“I welcome The Forum to the Augsburg campus and look forward to the partnership we will create toward a vibrant economy with equitable workplace opportunities for all,” Pribbenow said. “By partnering with the Forum, Augsburg gains immediate visibility, recognition, and connections among corporate leaders who share our commitment to diversity and equity.”

University of St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan said, “St. Thomas has great respect for The Forum on Workplace Inclusion and is proud to have had a hand in helping it become one of the nation’s largest workplace diversity, equity and inclusion conferences. More great things are in store as they move forward with their new partnership with Augsburg University.”

Media Contact: Gita Sitaramiah, Augsburg director of PR 612.330.1476.  

About Augsburg. Augsburg University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate degrees to 3,400 students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the Twin Cities and nearby Rochester, Minnesota, location. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. An Augsburg education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church, and shaped by its urban and global settings. Learn more at Augsburg.edu.

About The Forum. For 31 years, The Forum has served as a convening hub for those seeking to grow professional leadership and effectiveness skills in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion by engaging people, advancing ideas, and igniting change. The Forum on Workplace Inclusion Annual Conference is the nation’s largest – and one of the world’s largest – workplace DEI conferences designed for national and global audiences. For more information and registration, visit ForumWorkplaceInclusion.org.

New Dean To Lead Augsburg Commitment To Student-Centered Learning In Arts & Sciences

Augsburg University has named Ryan K. Haaland as the dean of Arts & Sciences, responsible for providing vision and leadership for faculty and academic programs, and supporting Augsburg’s emphasis on student-centered learning.  

Haaland comes to Augsburg from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, with many years of collaborative leadership experience in multiple institutional contexts, and 21 years of distinguished service in the U.S. Air Force.  

“Ryan is a passionate educator who shares Augsburg’s commitments to the liberal arts tradition and to serving students from groups historically underrepresented in higher education,” said Karen Kaivola, Augsburg’s provost and chief academic officer. “He will support faculty excellence, and his experience in programmatic innovation that prepares students for meaningful work in the 21st century will be a benefit to our students long after they graduate.”

Haaland will transition to Augsburg this summer and be on campus full-time in July. He also will hold a tenured faculty appointment as professor of physics.

“I’m eager to support the Augsburg mission of educating students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders,” Haaland said. “I also am dedicated to advancing Augsburg’s commitments to equity and inclusion.”

A nationally-recognized leader in broadening participation and diversity in STEM education, Haaland has received numerous grants and developed strategic partnerships that advance pathways and opportunities for students with industry, federal institutions, and research universities. Haaland currently serves as Arts and Sciences Liaison to the Provost at Fort Lewis College, where he is professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Engineering. He serves in this dean-equivalent position with cabinet-level responsibilities that include representing 15 academic departments and 25 degree-granting programs. He helped lead the design and construction of a $35 million state-of-the-art science and engineering facility at Fort Lewis College, where he also developed and launched new computer engineering and interdisciplinary environment science programs. He brings extensive engagement and outreach experience with community partners, alumni, and members of the Board of Trustees.

Haaland joined Fort Lewis College in 2006 as a faculty member after serving 12 years in the Department of Physics at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he rose through the faculty ranks from instructor to associate professor and department chair, in addition to other leadership roles. Haaland earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, a master of science degree in space physics from UCLA, and a doctorate of philosophy in physics from the University of Oxford, England.

Devean George ’99 honored by NCAA during Final Four week in Minneapolis

Augsburg University basketball star Devean George, who went on to three NBA championship titles, was honored by the NCAA during men’s Final Four week as one of its 2019 Living Legends.

George grew up in North Minneapolis, played at NCAA Division III Augsburg and went on to play 11 seasons in the NBA, winning three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. Off the court, George devoted his time and energy to numerous Minneapolis charitable organizations focused on families, education and children.

View the NCAA press release for more details.

Augsburg University President Paul Pribbenow Named Outstanding Fundraising Professional

Paul PribbenowPresident Paul C. Pribbenow is being awarded the highest Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) honor bestowed upon one of its members.

The Outstanding Fundraising Professional award recognizes effective, creative and stimulating leadership, as well as the practice and promotion of ethical fundraising. Pribbenow will formally receive the award on April 2 at the association’s International Fundraising Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

“The impact of Paul Pribbenow on the organizations he has served is only exceeded by the impact he has had on the entire fundraising profession,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. “It is fair to say that fundraising—and how we look at ethics and philanthropy—would look differently without the contributions of Paul. His work will serve as one of the cornerstones of the profession for years to come, and all of us at AFP are so excited to be able to recognize his extraordinary work and contributions at our conference in San Antonio.”

View the AFP press release. 

Star Tribune Spotlights Augsburg in Academic Freedom and Inclusive Learning Story

Academic freedom on college and university campuses is part of a national dialogue in higher education today. The Star Tribune covered this topic in featuring Augsburg University’s work to be a more inclusive campus.

The story focused on Augsburg as it delves into how today’s increasingly diverse student-centered campuses are managing academic freedom and inclusive learning environments. Reporter Mila Koumpilova interviewed Augsburg faculty, students, and provost.

Read the story.

A Conversation with First Lady Gwen Walz and Gay Rights Advocate Randy Florke on March 26

Randy Florke will speak about the gay rights movement in a conversation with Gwen Walz, an
advocate in her own right for equality, public education, and prison education. Walz is the wife of Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and recently began working at Augsburg. Walz and Florke met when they were both Congressional spouses. Florke is married to New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney.

When: Tuesday, March 26, 2019
6:30 p.m. Registration
7:00 p.m. Program with Q and A
8:30 p.m. Reception

Where:
Sateren Auditorium, Augsburg University
2200 7 1/2 Street S., Minneapolis

 

This event is free and open to the public

Get tickets at this link. Admission is free.

See Facebook event here.

*Video taping is prohibited to maintain a safe space for dialogue.

Minnesota First Lady to support Augsburg government relations, public service

First Lady Gwen Walz greeted Randy Anderson, a board member with the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition.
Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune | First Lady Gwen Walz greeted Randy Anderson, a board member with the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition.

The Star Tribune reports that Minnesota’s first First Lady in years is aiming to be unlike any other in state history, including her new role as an independent contractor at Augsburg University.

According to the Star Tribune: Gwen Walz is the first First Lady with an office in the Capitol. From there, she’s begun to craft an ambitious policy portfolio that includes education and corrections, though she’s quick to point out that housing and health and other issues are all interrelated.

At Augsburg, she’s serving in two roles: as Special Assistant to the President for Strategic Partnerships and as a Fellow in the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship.

The announcement by Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow said that Walz is a long-time friend of the university. “We specifically focused on issues of diversity and equity in the Rochester area,” Pribbenow noted. “We also joined with Mrs. Walz in promoting a program to offer college courses in Minnesota prisons.”

Read the Augsburg announcement.

View the Star Tribune story

Inside Higher Ed Highlights National Debate About Academic Freedom and Inclusive Learning Environments

Important conversations are taking place in higher education nationwide about how learning is affected when racial slurs are spoken in the classroom. This recent Inside Higher Ed article references a variety of opinions on the topic—including perspectives from Augsburg faculty and students.

While the article’s lead paragraph focuses on a specific classroom incident, the inclusivity review currently in progress at Augsburg is based on a broader scope of reported concerns, not on the single event named in the story. Because of Augsburg’s commitment to respecting confidentiality of student and personnel information, the university does not intend to publicly share factual details about the full scope of the concerns reported and under review. See the university’s public statement for further information.

“This is a complex issue, and I’m proud to say that Augsburg’s student newspaper, the Echo, has done an excellent job covering the topic with nuance and accuracy,” said Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow. “Our student journalists have provided a platform for a range of voices reflecting an array of views and perspectives related to the campus conversation.”

Last year, Augsburg’s faculty affirmed its commitment to academic freedom in the context of equity and inclusion; this affirmation is now part of the university’s Student-Faculty Bias/Discrimination policy.

AUGSBURG UNIVERSITY STATEMENT REGARDING ONGOING INCLUSIVITY REVIEW

(Updated March 5, 2019)

This week Augsburg University concluded a review, initiated in October 2018, of student reports about the leadership, culture, and environment of specific classes and in a specific program area. This review involved a wide-ranging set of issues beyond the single classroom incident that was the subject of public discussion and news coverage.

Because of its commitment to respecting confidentiality of student and personnel information, the university does not intend to publicly share factual details about the full scope of the concerns reported, but confirms that its actions during the review process were not based solely on the publicly reported classroom incident.

The conclusion of this review resulted in changes to the instructor’s leadership and teaching assignments in the specific program area, while affirming that future course assignments and instructional load would remain in alignment with the contractual obligations between the instructor and the university.

The following statement outlines the process and conclusion of this review.

Process and resolution

On October 31, 2018, Augsburg leadership began to receive reports related to a classroom incident and to the experiences of students in a specific program area at the university. In response, the university immediately set in motion the process for investigating such situations.

Through this process, Augsburg leadership heard from more than 30 individuals, some of whom who had submitted non-anonymous reports through a variety of available mechanisms, including personal interviews and the university’s Student-Faculty Bias/Discrimination reporting process. The information gathered raised a variety of issues relating both to the particular classroom incident as well as to student experiences beyond that specific event.

In early January, it was concluded that the informal resolution process was insufficient for achieving an appropriate resolution in this case, and the university’s chief academic officer initiated the formal resolution process. As outlined in Augsburg’s Faculty Handbook, the formal process requires consultation with the university’s faculty-elected Committee on Tenure and Promotion and provides a means for faculty to review the administration’s actions as well as to provide input on appropriate next steps.

Based upon all of this input, the university determined outcomes taking into account the broader set of concerns raised by students. As noted above, the outcomes included changes in leadership and instructional roles in a specific program area. Any personnel discussions related to this process will remain confidential.

In addition to the faculty process, Augsburg’s chief academic officer charged a team of faculty, students, and multicultural student services staff to review the specific program area about which concerns had been raised. That review is focused on the program’s vision, structure, and curriculum, and is expected to extend beyond the current academic year.  

Throughout this process, Augsburg remained committed to supporting students’ academic success. Augsburg’s equity commitment, approved by the Augsburg Board of Regents in April 2018, states that “Augsburg must fully embrace the challenge of being the institution its students need today, creating culturally relevant learning spaces and opportunities that build students’ agency to lead change at Augsburg and in their communities.”

Beyond the specific reviews described above, Augsburg leadership recognized that the experience raised important questions about inclusiveness at Augsburg more generally. A variety of institution-wide efforts are underway as a result—including student-led initiatives, faculty-led discussions, and more. A student survey was launched as part of a curricular inclusivity study. A faculty and staff work group was formed to review proposed general education requirements to support intercultural learning. Time was dedicated on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for workshops and intercultural competence development across campus.

“We know that the work of fostering an inclusive learning environment is ongoing, and we are fully committed to it,” said Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow. “We are grateful to the students, faculty, and staff who have spoken courageously to raise campus awareness, who have engaged in actively listening to the issues being expressed, and who have called for changes that advance our equity work. Augsburg will address this important topic like it has many other critical issues in our 150-year history: We will acknowledge and engage the topic, not shrink from it, and work together to make the university better.”