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Congratulations to Auggies Named to the 2023 Summer Semester Dean’s List

University SealMore than 95 Augsburg University undergraduate students were named to the 2023 Summer Semester Dean’s List. The Augsburg University Dean’s List recognizes those full-time students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.50 or higher and those part-time students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.75 or higher in a given term.

View the 2023 Summer Semester Dean’s List.

Students who wish to notify their hometown newspapers of their achievement can do so at their discretion using a news announcement template.

Augsburg University Announces 2023 Alumni Awards

A cascade of red, white, and silver star balloons in Hagfors CenterAugsburg University is proud to announce the winners of the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award, First Decade Award, and Spirit of Augsburg Award. These outstanding alumni will be recognized at a special ceremony and reception on October 13 as part of Augsburg’s 2023 homecoming and reunion weekend. Learn more about the 2023 alumni award winners.

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes significant achievement in vocation, for outstanding contribution to church and community, and for a life that exemplifies the ideals and mission of Augsburg University. The 2023 honorees are:

  • Jan Nelson Meslin ’72, immigration justice activist and community organizer (Cayucos, CA)
  • James Rodde ’74, choral conductor and professor, Iowa State University (Ames, IA)
  • Devoney Looser ’89, author, Jane Austen scholar, and professor of English, Arizona State University (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Tsehai Wodajo ’97, social worker and founder, Resources for the Enrichment of African Lives (St. Paul, MN)

First Decade Award

The First Decade Award is presented to Augsburg graduates of the past 10 years who have made significant progress in their professional achievements and contributions to the community, and in so doing exemplify the mission of the university. The 2023 honorees are:

  • Kacie Lucchini Butcher ’13, public historian and director, Rebecca M. Blank Center for Campus History, University of Wisconsin—Madison (Madison, WI)
  • Mychal Frelix ’19 MBA, co-founder and chief operating officer, TurnSignl (Chaska, MN)
  • Andre Creighton ’19 MBA, co-founder and chief financial officer, TurnSignl (Buffalo, MN)

Spirit of Augsburg Award

The Spirit of Augsburg Award honors alumni and friends of the university who have given exceptional service that contributes substantially to the well-being of Augsburg by furthering its purposes and programs. The 2023 honoree is Paul Mueller ’84, Mayo Clinic Health System regional vice president, former Board of Regents member, and chair, Great Returns: We’re All In campaign (LaCrosse, WI).

Augsburg University Named Among Nation’s Most LGBTQ-Friendly

White Auggie eagle on rainbow backgroundAugsburg University has been named one of the top 30 colleges and universities for LGBTQ+ students, according to Campus Pride, the leading national organization dedicated to building future LGBTQ and ally leaders and creating safer communities at colleges and universities. Augsburg is the only institution from Minnesota to receive Campus Pride’s Best of the Best recognition in 2023.

“Earning a spot on Campus Pride’s Best of the Best list recognizes an institution’s efforts to create a safe and welcoming campus for their LGBTQ+ students, staff and faculty,” said Campus Pride Founder, CEO and Executive Director Shane Mendez Windmeyer. “In the current climate, in which LGBTQ+ identities have become political talking points and laws are being weaponized against LGBTQ+ people, the commitment to creating campuses that welcome and protect LGBTQ+ students can not be taken for granted. The colleges and universities that made our list this year deserve this recognition for the efforts they have made and continue to make.”

Augsburg’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) Student Services office works to improve the campus environment for all students, staff, faculty, and visitors by developing and supporting inclusive understandings of gender and sexuality. Activities include:

  • Advising, advocacy, mentorship, and support for LGBTQIA+ -identified students;
  • Development of student knowledge and leadership skills;
  • Promoting awareness and visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community on campus;
  • Providing networking and social opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ and allied campus community;
  • Training students, staff, and faculty about gender and sexual equity to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment;
  • Advocating for change in policies, practices, and procedures across the campus to be more equitable to LGBTQIA individuals.

Two LGBTQIA+ student organizations, Queer Pride Alliance and Queer Indigenous People of Color, host a number of events for the Augsburg community throughout the year. At the annual Lavender Celebration, graduating LGBTQIA+ and ally students are honored with a rainbow cord to wear at commencement, and the community recognizes outstanding individuals for their work and contributions for queer and trans students at Augsburg.

Campus Pride’s 2023 Best of the Best LGBTQ-friendly list includes 30 four-year public and private colleges and universities from around the country. Each institution achieved 5 out of 5 stars and the highest percentage scores on the Campus Pride Index (CPI), the premier national benchmarking tool measuring LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs, and practices on college and university campuses. The Campus Pride Index rates colleges and universities based on self-reporting of LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices, such as non-discrimination statements inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, gender affirming health care, LGBTQ+ peer mentorship programs, campus safety training on sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBTQ-specific major and course offerings, and the presence of LGBTQ & ally student and faculty organizations. The full Campus Pride 2023 Best of the Best list is available online at

Learn more about programming and support resources available through Augsburg’s LGBTQIA+ Student Services.

Najeeba Syeed Named to Interfaith Leaders in Higher Education Council

Najeeba Speed speaking at Interfaith eventInterfaith America has appointed Najeeba Syeed, El-Hibri chair and executive director of Interfaith at Augsburg, to the inaugural Interfaith Leaders in Higher Education Council. This council serves as a point of connection for educators dedicated to interfaith work both in their respective institutions and throughout the higher education field. The council will meet quarterly with the Interfaith Leadership Institute team to offer their expertise on undergraduate programming and expand their own interfaith leadership skills. “I’m profoundly thankful to Interfaith America,” Syeed says. “What an incredible group of leaders to serve and serve with, and a wonderful organization to be a part of.” 

Read more from Interfaith America: Meet the Inaugural Interfaith Leaders in Higher Education Council

Assistant Professor Shayna Sheinfeld Wins Outstanding Book Award

Image of book cover that shows a painting of a woman with dark eyes and heavy eyebrows. White text on a red background reads, "Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean," Sara Parks, Shayna Sheinfeld, and Meredith J.C. Warren Shayna Sheinfeld, assistant professor of religion and philosophy, received the 2023 Frank W. Beare Award from the Canadian Society for Biblical Studies for her book, “Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean.” 

Co-authored with Sara Parks and Meredith J. C. Warren, “Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean” is the first undergraduate textbook dedicated to introducing women’s religious roles in Judaism and Christianity in a way that is accessible to students from all disciplines. In addition to contextualizing overviews, it includes explorations of specific topics in women’s religion, including leadership, domestic ritual, women as readers and writers of scripture, and women as innovators in their traditions. 

The Frank W. Beare award recognizes an outstanding book in the areas of Christian origins, post-biblical Judaism, and/or Graeco-Roman religions.

Augsburg Receives 2023 Eduventures Innovation Award

A woman and two men stand in front of a brick wall. The man in the middle is holding a plaque and smiling.Augsburg was among three universities recently honored for making bold moves to improve access, equity, and inclusion in higher education. Encoura, an educational data science and research organization,​ announced the winners of the annual Innovation Awards Program at Eduventures Summit 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Augsburg was recognized for the Augsburg Applies to You enrollment management approach, implemented in Fall 2022. This multi-pronged initiative seeks to create a more equitable and sustainable college admissions system through direct admissions, student success coaching, and inclusive academic belonging.

“Augsburg Applies to You aims to lower barriers, foster a culture of belonging, and ultimately change systems to address historically rooted inequities in higher education,” said Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow. “I want to recognize the courage and commitment of our strategic enrollment management division staff, every one of whom took ownership of the project and contributed to its successful launch this year.” 

Now in its seventh year, the Eduventures Innovation Awards Program honors organizations and teams that are shaping the future of higher education. Eduventures received a record number of submissions that showcased innovative and transformative projects this year. Entries are designed to identify higher education institutions that have demonstrated significant innovations when developing and deploying programs that impact enrollment, student experience, or outcomes. 

“More than ever, global society relies on innovation to help evolve humanity and make our lives more productive, healthy, and equitable,” said Cara Quackenbush, Encoura’s executive vice president of research. “We are thrilled to be honoring the institutions that have created new, actionable, and innovative programs that are changing the landscape for higher education and their shared commitment of serving their student bodies and the larger community.”

Read the full announcement from Encoura or learn more about Augsburg Applies to You.

Congratulations to Auggies Named to the 2023 Spring Semester Dean’s List

University SealMore than 855 Augsburg University undergraduate students were named to the 2023 Spring Semester Dean’s List. The Augsburg University Dean’s List recognizes those full-time students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.50 or higher and those part-time students who have achieved a grade point average of 3.75 or higher in a given term.

View the 2023 Spring Semester Dean’s List.

Students who wish to notify their hometown newspapers of their achievement can do so at their discretion using a news announcement template.

Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship Receives Local Public Health Hero Award

Last week, the City of Minneapolis honored the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship with a Local Public Health HeroAward in the category of Healthy Living and Healthy Food Systems. Project Manager Jenean Gilmer, Food Initiatives Program Manager Natalie Jacobson, and Director of Community Relations Steve Peacock were specifically recognized for their efforts. Paula Guinn and Sieglinde Thetard from The People’s Center nominated the Sabo Center for their food access work in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. They wrote:  

“Augsburg University’s Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship works to build community connections and engagement in pursuit of more equitable systems and resources in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. The Center plays a major role in food access and systems work through the Cedar-Riverside Food Initiative group, which draws representatives from healthcare organizations, community-service centers, higher education institutions, and local non-profits. They have shown great leadership in their dedication to continuing food access work as a collective, which is exemplified by their commitment to uplifting diverse community voices to shape and direct food initiatives. 

“The Center has been instrumental in connecting neighborhood organizations and community members with fresh produce and healthy shelf-stable items. For example, the team works with Health Commons, a healthcare collective, to distribute thousands of pounds of free fresh produce to community members in and around Riverside Plaza. The Center has also made a significant impact in building sustainable food-distribution models that incorporate grassroots organizations into existing food distribution frameworks and community programming. With so many long-term partnerships, The Sabo Center has a broad range of organizations and community members engaged in adapting existing and future programming to healthy living and healthy food system goals.”

Learn more about Augsburg’s Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship and how you can get involved.

Augsburg Innovation Scholars Present to Mayo Clinic Leaders

The 2023 Augsburg Innovation Scholars team, faculty mentors, and Augsburg leaders pose in front of a fireplace and wood-paneled walls at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.“When we went up there, it was our job to know about everything—the pros, cons, the disease, all of it,” said Connor Thorsten ’24. “As much as public speaking is a fear for a lot of people, we went up with confidence and did a great job.” 

With a who’s who of Mayo Clinic licensing managers and innovators in the audience, Thorsten and his teammates—Tom Erickson ’24, Lorraine Wongbi ’23, and Lily Yang ’23—weren’t just delivering a typical class presentation. Their subject? A challenging biomedical tech transfer project focused on an implantable cardiac med tech device.

The presentation to Mayo Clinic leaders in early March was the culmination of months of study, research, and preparation the students undertook as participants in the Innovation Scholars program. Working at the intersection of science, healthcare, and entrepreneurship, Innovation Scholars brings interdisciplinary teams of outstanding liberal arts students from 12 Minnesota private colleges and universities together to solve real-world problems in real time. 

“It’s one of the best opportunities for students that I’ve seen as far as real-world application and being interdisciplinary,” said Jacob Enger, assistant professor of business administration. Enger served as one of two faculty mentors for Augsburg’s team this year, along with Tim Monko, adjunct instructor in biology. Each group was also paired with an MBA student mentor from Augsburg or the University of St. Thomas. 

Throughout the fall and winter, Augsburg’s team met weekly or more to research the tech transfer project they were assigned by the Mayo Clinic. (Tech transfer refers to the process of moving from research to application and commercialization.) Bringing expertise in biochemistry, biopsychology, finance/accounting, and physics, they tackled questions like: Is it safe? Is it effective? Is it helpful? What is the potential patient population? Who are the competitors? What is the path to finishing product development and bringing it to market? 

“The experience made me more aware of the different moving parts that come into play during the roll-out of an innovation,” said Wongbi. “It really put into perspective the heart and dedication of the inventors, as much of the process requires patience.”

In addition to writing a 40-plus page research paper and preparing the content of their presentation, the team practiced and strengthened their presentation skills, from holding a microphone to taking turns fielding questions. 

“The experience provides such a wide range of areas for students to grow and develop, all with skills they can speak to on a résumé” said Enger. “Students both collaborate and specialize within their area of expertise, whether science or business.” 

While confidentiality agreements limit how much they can share about the project, the Augsburg students came away feeling celebratory. Thorsten, a member of Augsburg’s 2023 national champion wrestling squad, credits teamwork for their success in Rochester. 

“It was one of the best out-of-school, real world experiences I’ve had,” he said. “It was a lot of very hard work—crunch time got very busy—but we divided and conquered, and when one of us was struggling, we focused on helping them and vice versa.”

Students can participate in Innovation Scholars for credit or to fulfill their Augsburg Experience requirement. The application for the next cohort will open in the fall. To find out more, reach out to URGO or visit the Innovation Scholars website

NSF Grant Supports Mathematics and Data for Social Justice Summer Seminar

Prof. John Zobitz lectures in front of a whiteboard. His laptop is in the foreground.How does math explain the real world?

This question has been at the heart of Professor John Zobitz’s career as a mathematician and data scientist. Now he’s working to help other faculty bring a social justice lens to mathematics and statistics education.

With a $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Zobitz and colleagues from Concordia College–Moorhead, Winona State University, and Anoka-Ramsey Community College will convene an inaugural three-day conference for math instructors this summer.

The Mathematics and Data for Social Justice Summer Seminar aims to help faculty at two- and four-year colleges teach math in context, using examples such as credit risk modeling or differential impacts from climate change to illustrate core concepts.

From a teaching standpoint, this means seeking out appropriate data sets, exploring local issues, and developing greater capacity to manage classroom conversations about social justice. Seminar facilitators include Gizen Karaali and Lily Khadjavi, editors of “Mathematics for Social Justice: Resources for the College Classroom,” to which Zobitz was a contributing author.

After this summer’s gathering, the organizers aim to develop a community of practice that will provide ongoing collaboration and peer support as faculty work to make their teaching more culturally relevant and responsive. They will also share lessons and curricular resources with other institutions through the Mathematical Association of America’s regional conference.

“Our goal is to enact change in the classroom by starting at the instructor level,” said Zobitz. “But we also hope that this seminar will serve as a model for professional development aimed at advancing equity in STEM fields.”