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Paul Pribbenow Joins College Presidents for Civic Preparedness

Paul Pribbenow wears a gray jacket, a gray and maroon bow tie, a white collared shirt, and black-rimmed glasses.

Recognizing this urgent moment for American higher education and our democracy, Augsburg University President Paul C. Pribbenow is joining 70 other college presidents of diverse institutions from across the country to advance higher education’s pivotal role in preparing students to be engaged citizens and to uphold free expression on campus. 

Through College Presidents for Civic Preparedness, a unique consortium designed by the presidents and convened by the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, participating presidents are dedicated to preparing the next generation of well-informed, productively engaged, and committed citizens; defending free expression, civil discourse, and critical inquiry as essential civic norms; and increasing thoughtful engagement and better understanding by students for the effective functioning of our democracy. The consortium, first announced with 15 members in August 2023, has grown significantly, demonstrating momentum for this movement. 

Participating presidents will take campus-specific and collective action, reflecting three shared Civic Commitments: 

  • Educating for democracy is central to our mission. 
  • We will prepare our students for a vibrant, diverse, and contentious society. 
  • We will protect and defend free inquiry.

Taken together, these fresh commitments embrace both free speech and diversity, two values often pitted against each other, by instead emphasizing meaningful engagement and inquiry with different voices and viewpoints. The commitments stress diversity as a strength of both American democracy and campus life and affirm the truth-seeking role of higher education through curiosity and inquiry. They also enable campus leaders to take substantive action to promote democratic engagement among students, with public accountability for progress through publication of an annual impact report.

“At Augsburg University, we honor our commitments to a vibrant civic life, to the liberal arts, and to the diverse students we serve, by setting a table where all voices are heard, all life experiences are valued, and all of our fellow travelers are engaged in support of a vibrant democracy,” said Pribbenow.

In addition to championing these commitments on our own campuses, the presidents will undertake together and through the Institute a set of collective actions:

  • Meet regularly and confidentially for peer learning and the exchange of information, ideas, practices, and tools, including on such topics as the 2024 elections and student activism;
  • Help faculty engage effectively with free expression and civil discourse in the classroom by participating in the Faculty Institute on Dialogue Across Difference; and
  • Create and seize opportunities for shared advocacy and public outreach on civic preparedness in higher education.

“Higher education has a responsibility to provide students with critical civic skills and knowledge to participate effectively in our constitutional democracy,” said Rajiv Vinnakota, President of the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, a nonprofit that cultivates talent, ideas, and networks that develop young people as effective, lifelong citizens. “College campuses are among the most diverse spaces in our country, and college is an important time for students to develop the habits, practices, and norms to live in a multicultural and interconnected democracy. Doing so can create a ripple effect, making young people more optimistic and increasingly committed about their future and our nation.”

Learn more about Augsburg’s commitment to civic preparedness.

Announcing the Lindstrom Endowed Professorship of Chemistry at Augsburg University

Augsburg University is pleased to announce the establishment of the Terry ’73 and Janet Lindstrom Endowed Professorship of Chemistry.

Terry and Janet Lindstrom have generously supported Augsburg for over 40 years. Their philanthropic support includes the Augsburg Fund, summer research opportunities, the Student Emergency Fund, and the Hagfors Center. After a distinguished career in drug discovery and development at Eli Lilly and Company, Terry retired in 2010. He joined Augsburg’s Board of Regents in 2018, where he chairs the enrollment management committee.

Endowed professorships like the Lindstrom Endowed Professor of Chemistry play a vital role in supporting faculty, promoting academic excellence, and ensuring the long-term success of students. “This transformative gift affirms Augsburg’s longstanding commitment to excellence in the natural sciences,” said President Paul Pribbenow. “In a time when scientific knowledge has itself become contested, we are incredibly grateful to the Lindstroms for this investment to strengthen the critical leadership of our faculty.”

Learn more about the Lindstroms and the Lindstrom Endowed Professorship.

Advisory: Augsburg Celebrates Class of 2024 at Commencement on May 8

Close-up of a student in cap and gown amidst the crowd at 2023 Augsburg commencementAugsburg University will celebrate the class of 2024 at an in-person commencement ceremony at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 8 at 6:00 p.m.

Augsburg’s commencement ceremony reflects the diversity of its community, as graduates traditionally wear stoles and cords of different colors that represent affiliation with various communities and programs. Flags displayed at commencement represent sovereign nations of American Indian students and countries of the international students graduating in the ceremony.

Tickets are required to attend in person, but the ceremony will also be livestreamed. Follow the celebration through the hashtag #AuggieGrad on social media platforms.

For more information, including accessibility information, visit the commencement website.

Media contact:
Rachel Farris
farrisr@augsburg.edu
(612) 330-1476

 

Augsburg University to Sell East Franklin Avenue Property to Somali Museum of Minnesota

Augsburg University and the Somali Museum of Minnesota today announced an agreement for Augsburg to sell the former Bethany Lutheran Church property at 2511 East Franklin Avenue to the Somali Museum in order to develop a permanent museum facility and cultural center. 

Since 2020, the university has worked with community-based developer Redesign (formerly Seward Redesign) to identify a financially sustainable, community-serving use for the property that contributes to the vitality of the East Franklin Avenue corridor. The church building and property were donated to Augsburg in May 2020 before the Bethany Lutheran congregation dissolved in September 2021. 

“We are so pleased to partner with the Somali Museum to advance their compelling vision to invest in a new museum site in the Seward neighborhood,” said Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow. “This project represents a unique opportunity to create an enduring, transformational impact along East Franklin—one that aligns with Augsburg’s educational mission and honors Bethany Lutheran’s legacy of welcome and service to immigrant communities.”  

Founded in 2009, the Somali Museum of Minnesota currently houses a collection of more than 1,500 items in a gallery on East Lake Street. “Our mission is education and to build bridges that connect the community together,” said Osman Ali, the museum’s founder and director. “With a larger, permanent home for the museum, we hope to serve a wide variety of communities, whether young Somalis who have grown up in the United States or Minnesotans of other heritages who may not be familiar with Somali art and traditional culture. All are welcome.” 

Augsburg worked with Redesign on a feasibility assessment that evaluated the financial implications, neighborhood impacts, and partnership opportunities related to three options for the site: renovation, adaptive reuse of the existing structures, and ground-up redevelopment. When redevelopment emerged as the most financially sustainable scenario, given extensive deferred maintenance needs and a limited market for adaptive reuse, Redesign connected the museum and the university to explore a potential fit.  

“The prospect of locating the Somali Museum on the site was exciting to us from the start,” said Andy Hestness, executive director of Redesign. “The new museum will be an important community anchor and cultural destination, joining long-standing institutions like the Minneapolis American Indian Center, Norway House, and the American Swedish Institute along and near the Franklin corridor.” 

Augsburg remains committed to honoring current lease and license agreements with tenants of the former church building as the sale moves forward. Several former tenants have transitioned to new locations in recent months. Soup for You Café, which has operated at the site since 2015, will move operations to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on East Lake Street in June. 

The Somali Museum was approved for $3.9 million in state funding during the 2023 legislative session to advance the project, with Noor Companies, the largest certified woman and minority-owned general contractor in Minnesota, as sole developer. A closing date for the property sale is anticipated later this year.  

About Augsburg University

Augsburg University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and 11 graduate degrees to more than 3,100 students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the Twin Cities. 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 Somali Museum of Minnesota

The Somali Museum is the home of traditional Somali arts in Minnesota. Displaying a collection of over 1,500 pieces, and offering educational programs about Somali traditional culture that are not offered anywhere else, the Somali Museum offers an unrivaled opportunity for Minnesotans of all backgrounds to encounter and learn about Somali traditional culture. The Somali Museum’s mission is to use this collection as a tool for education: making it possible for young Somalis who have grown up in the United States to connect with their culture, as well as Minnesotans of other ethnic heritage to encounter Somali art and traditional culture for the first time. The museum’s programs explore the changing role of traditional arts and culture as the Somali people move across borders and time. By promoting the highest forms of Somali creativity, the Somali Museum believes that it can also help to diminish harmful prejudice and misunderstanding. Learn more at somalimuseum.org

 

Building Trust in Divisive Times: Augsburg University to Offer Second Annual Interfaith Symposium

Manu Meel is smiling at the camera against a backdrop of trees and water. He is wearing black glasses, a dark jacket, and blue shirt.Augsburg University will offer its second annual Interfaith Symposium at 11 a.m. on March 7, 2024, featuring keynote speaker Manu Meel, CEO of BridgeUSA. The Interfaith Symposium is an annual invitation to students and community members to learn about religious, spiritual, and worldview diversity; participate in enriching dialogue; and network with exceptional interfaith leaders. 

Meel’s keynote will focus on “Building Trust in Divisive Times,” the symposium’s 2024 theme. BridgeUSA is a youth-led, multi-partisan student movement that creates spaces on high school and college campuses for open discussion between students about differences. By engaging America’s youth in constructive discussions, the nonprofit organization is equipping the next generation of leaders with the skills necessary for navigating conflict, finding solutions across differences and building bridges in their communities.

“We are thrilled to welcome Manu Meel to Augsburg for this year’s Interfaith Symposium,” said Najeeba Syeed, El-Hibri Endowed Chair and executive director of Interfaith at Augsburg. “BridgeUSA’s efforts to help young people resolve conflicts and navigate difficult conversations aligns closely with the work of Augsburg’s Interfaith Institute. His message of building trust across different perspectives will be incredibly valuable during the U.S. election cycle and as conflict continues to play out across the world.”

Following the keynote address, a luncheon and panel discussion will take place at 12:30 p.m., featuring conversation with Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker, Mount Zion Temple; Martha Stortz, professor emerita of religion at Augsburg; and Joffrey Wilson, vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Mortenson Construction. 

For information and to register, visit the 2024 Interfaith Symposium website.

About Interfaith at Augsburg

Situated in a neighborhood home to numerous immigrant communities and with an increasingly diverse student body, Augsburg University is uniquely positioned to facilitate building bridges in a polarized world. Augsburg’s commitment to interfaith engagement is central to its mission, identified as a key outcome of its strategic plan, and rooted in its Lutheran theological heritage. Through interfaith education and intentional opportunities to strengthen interreligious communication, understanding, and relationships, Augsburg’s Interfaith Institute advances peacemaking on campus, in the community, and beyond. Learn more at augsburg.edu/interfaith.

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

University SealMore than 950 Augsburg University undergraduate students were named to the 2023 Fall 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 Fall 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.

Central Corridor Anchor Institutions Share Lessons From 10 Years of Partnership Along the Green Line

Central Corridor Anchor Partnership logoThis month, the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership (CCAP) will celebrate 10 years of local place-making investments along the Green Line corridor with an Anchor Summit featuring Dr. David Maurrasse, leader of the national Anchor Institutions Task Force. 

Since 2012, CCAP members organizations—including colleges, universities, health systems, and other partner organizations—have sustained a commitment to the shared health, prosperity, and growth of Central Corridor neighborhoods. Anchor institutions are defined as stable, enduring organizations that are rooted in their localities, whose resources can be leveraged as agents of community and economic development. The CCAP anchor partner capacity comprises 16 ZIP codes, 60,000 employees, and 112,000 students with $2.5 billion in annual spending. Through CCAP, these “eds and meds” have focused on procurement spending, workforce development, and transit use in the ZIP codes along the Green Line in Minneapolis and St. Paul. 

Augsburg University was a founding member of CCAP, which is chaired by President Paul Pribbenow. Examples of Augsburg’s commitment to neighborhood vitality in recent years include:

  • The Cedar-Riverside Health Commons drop-in center, which opened in 2011 in collaboration with CCAP partner M Health Fairview, the East Africa Health Project, and People’s Center Health Services.
  • Urban Scrubs Camp, an annual summer camp for metro students to get hands-on exposure to health care careers and experience a college campus.
  • Augsburg Local, an initiative to leverage Augsburg’s institutional and individual purchasing power to support local businesses.
  • Inclusionary contracting in the construction of the Hagfors Center for Business, Science, and Religion, including over $3 million to Twin City Glass Contractors, a woman-owned business located in the Central Corridor geography.

“These strategies not only make our organization stronger, but they contribute to more prosperity for the Central Corridor and the whole Twin Cities region,” said Pribbenow.

The Anchor Summit will be held from 8–10:30 a.m. on November 16 at the Fairview Community Health & Wellness Hub in St. Paul. David Maurrasse will deliver a keynote on the power and potential of anchor partnerships, followed by a panel discussion on creating shared value and community health and safety in the central corridor. For more information, visit centralcorridoranchorpartnership.org/anchor-summit.

Urban Debaters Tackle Economic Inequality Before State and Local Leaders

The Minnesota Urban Debate League, a program of Augsburg University, is proud to present the 2023 Mayors Challenge: The Great Prosperity Debate at the American Swedish Institute from 5–8 p.m. on September 21. 

In this year’s debate, four students will split into two teams and debate issues related to the 2023–24 national policy debate topic of economic inequality. This topic engages students nationwide about the role of the U.S. federal government in fiscal redistribution, including policy proposals like a federal jobs guarantee, expanding Social Security, and providing basic income.

The debate will take place in front of a community of local education supporters, including special guests Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Governor Tim Walz, First Lady Gwen Walz, and a VIP panel of economic policy experts. 

Abdihafid Mohamed of Edison High School, Minneapolis, and Adai Truong of Central High School, Saint Paul, will argue the affirmative at the 11th annual Mayors Challenge event. They will face off against Lily St Dennis of Highland Park High School, Saint Paul, and Sabrena Thao of Tartan High School, Oakdale, arguing the negative. All are members of their schools’ debate teams, hosted by the Minnesota Urban Debate League. 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will receive the 2023 Champion of Change Award at the event. This award is given annually to a community changemaker who models courageous leadership and inspires students. Previous recipients include Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. 

Since 2012, the Mayors Challenge has brought together education advocates from across the Twin Cities to watch an empowering, informative showcase debate and invest in the future of urban debate. Debate has been shown to positively impact literacy, self-esteem, critical thinking, attendance, and test scores. Students who participate in debate develop the capacity to engage in civil disagreement and civil discourse, skills that are essential for citizenship in a multicultural democracy. 

Registration for the 2023 Mayors Challenge is available now.

About MNUDL

The Minnesota Urban Debate League is a program of Augsburg University that provides resources and programming to support competitive academic debate in Twin Cities high schools and middle schools. The mission of MNUDL is to empower students through competitive academic debate to become engaged learners, critical thinkers, and active global citizens who are effective advocates for themselves and their communities. Currently, MNUDL serves more than 1,000 students at 40 partner schools and has seen sustained growth in student participation since its inception in 2004, in programs including national topic policy debate, middle school debate, Spanish Debate League, East African Debate, Financial Literacy Leadership Debates, and MDAW Summer Speech & Debate Camp. 

For more information, contact: Minnesota Urban Debate League, Amy Cram Helwich, (612) 359-6467, cramhe@augsburg.edu.

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 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 CampusPride.org/BestoftheBest.

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