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Podcast: Augsburg Enrollment Leaders Talk College Access

Headshots of Robert Gould and Stephanie Ruckel on a green and orange background with white text reading, "Enrollment Edge: the enrollmentFUEL podcast. Episode 45: Robert Gould & Stephanie Ruckel"Robert Gould, vice president for strategic enrollment management, and Stephanie Ruckel, director of admissions operations, joined host Jay Fedje as featured guests on a recent episode of the Enrollment Edge podcast by enrollmentFUEL. 

The episode focused on the power of direct admissions—a simplified approach in which students are admitted based on high school GPA, in some cases before they have even applied—to break down college access barriers. 

“Essentially, what we’re trying to do is remove as many barriers as we can for students, and give them the most options to enroll in whatever institution is a good place for them,” said Ruckel. “When you start thinking about the student’s perspective, you can start questioning the [admissions] process a little bit differently. Why are we requiring these things? How are we using this data? Are we using this information? 

“The challenge in doing this is really stripping down the application—making sure we are collecting what we need to collect, but keeping it as simple as possible.”

Augsburg’s participation in pilot programs with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the Common App, as well as significant changes to the Augsburg application itself, puts the university at the leading edge of this new policy movement. 

“I want to credit the whole team,” said Gould. “We’ve literally taken the admissions process and the system and changed it in one cycle. We had some good thoughts about how it fulfilled our mission as an enrollment division, but I think more importantly, people had the appetite for it—wanting to build deeper relationships and wanting to eliminate barriers for all students.”

Listen to the episode here: Direct Admission: Unpacking College Access

Augsburg Music Professor Wins Entrepreneurship Prize

A white man in a sweater, jeans, and knit hat sits with his arms crossed among keyboards and music recording equipment.Intrigued by the potential of online education, J. Anthony Allen started a small company in 2018 to provide music instruction via the web. It grew organically at first, with a handful of classes and a few licensing agreements with larger platforms.

Then came the pandemic. 

“It was really a question of the right place and the right time,” said Allen, an assistant professor of music, media, and management at Augsburg. Punkademic was already established when the world saw a huge increase in demand for online classes of all kinds in 2020. Today, it serves more than a million students from every corner of the globe. 

Allen entered Punkademic in the prestigious MN Cup entrepreneurship contest earlier this year. The competition, which is based at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business, provides seed funding and support to emerging entrepreneurs from across the state. His goal was to make it past the first round in order to connect with a mentor from the ed tech world. 

Punkademic did make the first cut. And the next one. In September, it was named a semifinalist for the grand prize and took first place in the Education and Training division. 

Allen plans to invest the $25,000 MN Cup award in marketing and general operating infrastructure for the company, which remains a slim operation despite its explosive growth. Punkademic’s flexible model offers individual class purchases as well as structured courses on a subscription basis. The site’s most popular offerings include courses on music theory, composition, film scoring, sound design, and ear training.    

Allen sees a clear connection between his “side hustle” and his work at Augsburg, where he teaches classes in music business and technology, runs the music production minor, manages Augsburg’s recording studio, and serves as interim music department chair. 

“Teaching is a practice. All of this work online has informed my teaching style and abilities,” he said. “Here in the music business program we also talk about how all of music is an entrepreneurial act in one way or another. 

“For me, Punkademic is proof of that concept.” 

To learn more, visit Punkademic’s website or follow the company on TikTok.

(Photo of J. Anthony Allen by Jade Patrick)

Augsburg Faculty Publish New Books for Kids, Parents

Augsburg students benefit from world-class faculty with deep academic expertise and a love of teaching—a major reason the university is so highly ranked for undergraduate teaching. 

Many Augsburg faculty are also dedicated public scholars, whose work reaches beyond the academy to shape conversations in the public square. Two recent faculty books hold broad appeal for children and parents.   

Matt Maruggi holding a copy of his new bookMatt Maruggi, associate professor of religion and previous co-director of Augsburg’s Interfaith Scholars program, is the co-author of “Religion Around the World: A Curious Kid’s Guide to the World’s Great Faiths.” The book aims to make the world’s major faiths accessible to kids ages 8–12, sharing the complexities of different religious traditions in language young people can understand. Maruggi calls it a “gorgeous, content-heavy picture book,” with sections on Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as Native American traditions, Sikhism, Taosim, shamanism, secular humanism, interfaith families, and interfaith cooperation. 

Maruggi and his co-authors Sonja Hagander and Megan Borgert-Spaniol interviewed children from different traditions about the most meaningful aspects of their faith traditions. The book highlights their perspectives as well as famous individuals (like Dorothy Day and Muhammad Ali) and organizations (like Sewa International and Bread for the World) whose religious convictions are visible in public life. 

Cover of Spanked: How Hitting Our Children Is Harming OurselvesChristina Erickson, professor of social work and environmental studies, is the author of “Spanked: How Hitting Our Children Is Harming Ourselves,” a deep dive into the long-accepted practice of hitting children for learning and obedience. “Spanked” explores the historical roots, cultural supports, and social dynamics of spanking—a practice that is illegal in 62 countries, but still widely accepted here in the U.S. Erickson, who also chairs Augsburg’s social work department, comes to this topic as a social worker, a researcher, and a parent herself. In the book, she traces more than a century of research into spanking outcomes to critically assess the common narrative: “I was spanked, and I turned out fine.” 

Erickson was featured by columnist Laura Yuen in a recent Star Tribune article about “Spanked.” The book gives parents, health care providers, educators, social workers, faith leaders, and anyone interested in power and family dynamics a platform to respectfully discuss what spanking communicates to children.

Congratulations to Auggies Named to the 2022 Summer Dean’s List

University SealMore than 50 Augsburg University undergraduate students were named to the 2022 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 2022 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.

Reinaldo Moya Receives McKnight Composer Fellowship

Reinaldo Moya leans against a wall wearing a dark coat and blue collared shirt. Snow and trees are in the background.Reinaldo Moya, associate professor of composition, has been named one of four 2022 McKnight Composer Fellows. Funded by the McKnight Foundation, the fellowship provides $25,000 in unrestricted support for outstanding mid-career artists living in Minnesota. He plans to use the award to record an album of his compositions, and to pursue additional training and equipment to widen his musical horizons. 

A graduate of Venezuela’s El Sistema music education system, Professor Moya is the recipient of the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Van Lier Fellowship, and the Aaron Copland Award, as well as a previous McKnight Composer Fellowship. He was the winner of the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation Composer Award, leading to the commissioning of his Piano Concerto for Joyce Yang and the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. Professor Moya’s works have been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, the San Diego Symphony, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, and the New Jersey Symphony. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School with masters and doctoral degrees. 

Learn more about his works at reinaldomoya.com. Congratulations, Professor Moya!

Reggie Agyen-Boateng ’21 Anchors Hennepin Ave Public Art Project

A young man stands with his back to the camera looking up at a billboard photograph of a Black journalist with one fist raised
Photo via Instagram: @kusi_photos

Towering over Hennepin Avenue, the black-and-white photograph of a journalist with fist raised stops people in their tracks. 

The artist behind this complex, arresting image? Reggie Agyen-Boateng ’21.

Agyen-Boateng majored in sociology at Augsburg and now works professionally under the name Kusi Photography. He is one of seven artists featured in “It’s the People,” a public art installation in downtown Minneapolis coordinated by the Hennepin Theatre Trust. His portrait of independent journalist King Demetrius Pendleton was chosen to anchor the project with a multi-story billboard on 900 Hennepin Avenue for the next year. 

“My participation in “It’s the People” is my way of honoring the countless victims who have lost their lives to police violence,” said Agyen-Boateng in his artist statement. “It also allows me to give back to my community in a meaningful way after the suffering that Minnesota has endured over the years. 

“Working with King Demetrius Pendleton to capture his lived history in a single portrait challenged me to think about the complex layers and intersectionality of Black identities and lived experiences. This way of examining identity moved my work as an artist forward into new territory. It also became a way to document and truth-tell through images.”

Now in its fourth year, the 2022 project also features large-scale photos of theatre artists, arts leaders creating programming with youth experiencing homelessness, concert venue staff, Indigenous restauranteurs, student artists, and queer leaders. Learn more about “It’s the People” from Hennepin Theatre Trust

Congratulations, Reggie! 

Professor Tim Pippert Interviewed About Diversity Marketing in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Tim Pippert, Augsburg’s Joel Torstenson endowed professor of sociology, was recently interviewed for The Chronicle of Higher Education about how some colleges attempt to create the appearance of a more diverse student body than they actually have. The article cited a paper in which Pippert and his co-authors analyzed more than 10,000 photographs from the admissions brochures of 165 four-year colleges. The 2013 study found that Black students were overrepresented in admissions brochures by nearly twice their actual numbers on campuses.

One implication of the findings, Pippert said, is that over-representing minorities in marketing materials could hurt students who choose to attend colleges expecting more diversity than actually exists.

Read the full article in the Race on Campus newsletter.

Augsburg Faculty Awarded Fulbrights in Ireland and Slovenia

George Dierberger headshot
George Dierberger
Joseph Erickson Headshot
Joseph Erickson

Augsburg faculty members George Dierberger and Joseph Erickson have been named Fulbright Scholars for the 2022–23 academic year. Each year, the Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board select roughly 800 U.S. citizens to receive the Fulbright Scholar award for international travel, study, and teaching.

A competitive Fulbright application requires strong academic merit, demonstrated leadership potential, and a good match between an applicant’s strengths and a host institution’s needs. But for both of Augsburg’s faculty recipients, there’s a personal connection that makes receiving the Fulbright particularly rewarding this year.

Dierberger, an associate professor of business administration who also directs Augsburg’s MBA program, is mindful of family history as he prepares to spend three months in residence at the Atlantic Technological University in Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland. While this will be his first trip to Ireland, his great-great-grandfather hailed from County Cork. During the fall semester, Dierberger will develop case studies, lecture on innovation, help to build out a curricular focus on entrepreneurship, and partner with the Letterkenny business community to create an advisory council and internship opportunities.

Erickson, a professor of education and a psychologist by training, first visited Slovenia in 1994 through connections made by former Augsburg colleague Magda Paleczny-Zapp. Several of the graduate students tasked with assisting the Erickson family during that trip are now faculty themselves—including a department chair at the University of Ljubljana. Erickson will spend the spring collaborating with a team in Ljubljana to adapt a tool used to measure racial attitudes in the U.S. for the Slovenian context. He and his colleagues will shape the new scale around nationalism, a key issue for a society at the crossroads of western and eastern Europe and a way station for refugee migration.

In addition to these faculty awards, Augsburg was recently named a top producer of Fulbright students among U.S master’s institutions, with three students receiving scholarships to teach English abroad in 2021–22.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. For over 75 years, the program has provided more than 400,000 participants with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to challenges facing our communities and our world. ​​Fulbright alumni include 61 Nobel Prize laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize recipients, and 40 who have served as a head of state or government. Learn more about the Fulbright Program here.

Congratulations to Auggies Named to the 2022 Spring Semester Dean’s List

University SealMore than 850 Augsburg University undergraduate students were named to the 2022 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 2022 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.

Alyssa Parkhurst ’23 Named 2022 Udall Scholar

Alyssa ParkhurstAlyssa Parkhurst, a senior majoring in environmental studies and American Indian studies, has been named a 2022 Udall Scholar. Only 55 students across the United States are selected each year, and Parkhurst is only the second Auggie ever to have received this scholarship.

As a Udall Tribal Public Policy Scholar, Parkhurst will receive $7,000 and spend five days in Tucson, Arizona, at Scholar Orientation, where she will extend her professional network, meet other scholars and alumni, and learn new skills.

The Udall Foundation awards scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment.

Parkhurst is an Act Six Scholar, summer intern and farmer at Dream of Wild Health, environmental stewardship coordinator at Augsburg, oshkaabewis (ceremonial helper) to her Elder, Noodinesiikwe, and an old-style jingle dress dancer and educator. Congratulations, Alyssa!

Learn more about the 2022 Udall Scholars.