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Paul Pribbenow Takes Part in Panel Discussion on Racism

Paul Pribbenow

On August 13, President Paul Pribbenow was one of four leaders from the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities who participated in a virtual discussion on confronting systemic racism. The 90-minute discussion, “Where Do We Go From Here? Creating Lasting Change to Combat Systemic Racism and Inequities,” was moderated by PBS NewsHour journalist Fred de Sam Lazaro.

The panelists were asked to deal with hard questions. Will reactions to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor finally generate measurable progress? What do universities need to do to help lead change? What are we prepared to sacrifice? Will white people acknowledge that they cannot in good conscience maintain silence in the face of racism?

In response, Pribbenow declared the urgent need to respond to systemic racism. He spoke of the need for leaders to disrupt the status quo in hiring decisions. He said that as a leader he has been asking, “What are those things that we can do quickly that actually plant a seed, that actually will grow something sustainable for the future?”

A recording of the discussion is available on YouTube.

Statement from Paul Pribbenow May 31 About Temporary Relocation of Resident Students

Augsburg University logoAfter the unsafe events Friday night in Minneapolis, we made the decision to temporarily close residence halls on campus and relocate resident students outside of the metro area if they did not have alternative places to stay. That Saturday morning, it was not clear whether Saturday night would be a repeat of Friday, so we made an alternative housing option available outside the Twin Cities for students—including providing meals and transportation in compliance with our COVID-19 protocols. 

While this alternative provided safe housing for students, we understand some students felt they needed to remain in the Twin Cities and support their community. We recognize this, and yet our first responsibility was to provide for the safety of our students in a volatile, unpredictable situation—and we had to make arrangements very quickly, which presented additional challenges. I want to recognize the extraordinary work of our Student Affairs and Residence Life team who worked diligently to reach our 100+ resident students. They again reached out today to provide housing options and transportation to those students for this evening. I also want to recognize the ongoing and resilient leadership of the Augsburg Day Student Government, who took it upon themselves to provide information and clarification about the resident student relocation after misinformation was posted on social media. In times like these, to see students step up like this, truly shows just how Augsburg pulls together.

“Tienda” — A New Chamber Opera on February 21 and 22 by Augsburg’s Reinaldo Moya and Caitlin Vincent

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (January 20, 2020) — The Augsburg University Music Department presents “Tienda,”  a new chamber opera by Augsburg faculty member Reinaldo Moya and Caitlin Vincent on Friday, February 21 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, February 22 at 7 p.m.

This unique performance presented as a part of Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Celebration will feature a partially-staged opera by Reinaldo Moya with words by Caitlin Vincent. The cast of singers includes mezzo soprano Jill Morgan, as well as Dominic Aragon (-baritone), Matthew Valverde (tenor), Mario Ángel Pérez (tenor), and Bergen Baker (soprano). The production will also feature The Augsburg Choir and the Augsburg Orchestra. The stage director is Doug Scholz-Carlson.

The opera tells the story of Luis Garzón, a Mexican musician who immigrated to Minneapolis in 1886 and opened a small Mexican grocery store, or tienda, in St. Paul in the 1920s. While Luis had married an American woman and was fully integrated into Minnesotan society, his store served as a community hub for the newest arrivals from Mexico, many of whom had fled the Mexican Revolution and now toiled on the sugar beet farms of rural Minnesota. “Tienda” explores the immigrant experience: what must be left behind—and what cannot be forgotten—on the journey to a new home. This world premiere performance of “Tienda” is one of the highlights of Moya’s two-year residency with the Schubert Club.

For Moya, Luis’s story has personal meaning. “I had wanted to write an immigration opera for some time,” said Moya. “When my librettist, Caitlin Vincent, and I started doing research for this project, we came across a human interest story of an immigrant’s journey to and life in the United States. Luis’s story resonated with me because we both came to the U.S. as young men and remained here for a long time. We are both musicians, and we both feel a strong pull towards our home culture while simultaneously seeing the promise of the American dream, even when it fails so many.”  

Moya also sees the strong connection between the issues immigrants faced in the early 20th century, and the struggles they still face today. “Luis’s story is also one that is still very relevant in today’s political climate. We might think of these immigration issues as relatively new, but “Tienda” shows that we as a country have had a long history of reckoning with our heritage as an immigrant country.”  

Tickets for “Tienda” include two options: An Immersive Seating* option for $20, and Balcony Seating for free. Tickets are required and available for purchase online at All Seating is general admission. 

* Immersive theater seating includes samples of Mexican food and beverage to accompany the opera 

About Reinaldo Moya
Reinaldo Moya is a graduate of Venezuela’s El Sistema music education system. Through El Sistema, he had access to musical training from an early age and was a founding member of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra touring throughout Europe, North and South America. A graduate of The Juilliard School and a participant in the prestigious John Duffy Composers Institute and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Conce Composers Institute, Moya now lives in Northfield, and is Associate Professor of Composition at Augsburg University. Moya is the recipient of the 2015 McKnight Composers Fellowship, the Van Lier Fellowship from Meet the Composer and the Aaron Copland Award from the Copland House.

About Caitlin Vincent
Caitlin Vincent is an American librettist and lyricist whose writing has been praised as “nuanced and honest” (DC Theatre Scene), “intriguing” (The Baltimore Sun), and “luminous” (The Huffington Post).  Her opera “Better Gods,” with composer Luna Pearl Woolf, premiered in January 2016 at the Kennedy Center as part of Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. In 2017, Vincent and composer Douglas Buchanan won the prestigious Sackler Music Composition Prize to fund a new opera about Bessie Coleman, the first African-American female aviator, and Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, the first female governor of Texas, for a premiere in 2019.  Other recent commissions include “Nullipara” with composer D. J. Sparr for the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and “Little Black Book” with composer Susan LaBarr for Carnegie Hall.  A classically-trained soprano, Vincent graduated cum laude from Harvard University and holds a Master of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory and a PhD from Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. 

About Augsburg University
Augsburg University, celebrating its 150th anniversary, offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and 11 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

WCCO: Augsburg Student Leads Global Climate Strike Rally

Augsburg student Elan Quezada speaking at the Climate Strike rally in the Oren Gateway Center
Augsburg student Elan Quezada

Augsburg University student Elan Quezada organized a rally on campus for the Global Climate Strike where Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told students he stood behind their efforts.

“We want and we acknowledge that this is our fight – this will be our burden to carry,” Quezada told WCCO’s Bill Hudson.

After the rally in Oren Gateway Center’s lobby on Friday, September 20, Augsburg students traveled together via light rail to rally with others at the state Capitol.

Augsburg students joined thousands worldwide who walked out of offices and schools to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels.

View the WCCO segment.

Media Advisory: INSIDE OUT Portraits of 1,229 Augsburg University People Installed along Riverside Avenue in August

(Minneapolis) — Augsburg University is installing in August Each, Together, a Group Action of the INSIDE OUT Project, started by French street artist JR, that will include over 1,200 portraits. This installation in honor of Augsbug’s upcoming sesquicentennial will cover 10 campus building facades along Riverside Avenue.

Augsburg University's portrait wall

Members of the media are invited to Augsburg on August 6 to photograph the installation as well as for interviews with the project’s lead organizer Associate Professor Christopher Houltberg. 

Expected to be the largest such project in the Twin Cities area, these portraits will create a tapestry of faces that celebrate, recognize and honor the people of Augsburg University over the past 150 years. Each of the 1,229 students, faculty, alumni, and staff will ultimately be present together.

Installation will take four weeks to complete along Riverside, beginning at Foss Center on 22nd and moving toward 25th Avenue South. These buildings will include the Flower Shop, Maintenance Facilities, Ice Arena, Anderson Music Hall, and Foss Center. 

Founded in 1869, Augsburg’s year-long sesquicentennial celebration launches in September 2019.

On August 6, media members are invited to interview Associate Professor Christopher Houltberg and photograph or videotape installation as it begins.

For details, contact: Gita Sitaramiah, Director of PR and Internal Communications. or 612-330-1476.

About Augsburg. Augsburg University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and 10 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 Hosts Place-Based Justice Network Summer Institute 2019

(Minneapolis) –  Faculty and staff from universities nationwide will gather at The Place-Based Justice Network Summer Institute at Augsburg University from July 10 to 12 to analyze community engagement issues.

Augsburg is one of 25 higher education institutions that make up the The Place-Based Justice Network, committed to transforming higher education and our communities by deconstructing systems of oppression through place-based community engagement.

As part of the conference, participants will tour Augsburg neighbors, including Sisterhood Boutique; Health Commons; Trinity Lutheran/DaralHijrah; Cedar Cultural Center, Cedar Commons; Brian Coyle Center, and Augsburg Community Gardens. A reception with live music will be held at the McKnight Foundation.

Since the initial convening in 2014, teams from 25 universities have participated in the institute organized by Seattle University and supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

View the schedule.


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

Star Tribune features Augsburg’s Traditional Powwow

 Native Americans dancing in traditional clothing in the Augsburg Gym
Shari L. Gross – Star Tribune

Images from Augsburg University’s 11th Traditional Powwow were featured in a photo essay by the Star Tribune. The photos show various aspects of the powwow, ranging from dances and drumming to fellowship and friendship. The event, cohosted by Augsburg’s American Indian Student Services and Indigenous Student Association, includes food concessions, arts and crafts vendors, and informational tabling about Augsburg’s educational opportunities and services for native students of all ages. Graduating Augsburg American Indian students are also recognized.


Visit the Star Tribune’s website to view the photos.


(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.”

30th Annual Forum at Augsburg Spurs Media Coverage

The Star Tribune previewed the 30th annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum, interviewing guest speaker and Nobel laureate Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Read the editorial: Abolish nuclear weapons? Idealistic. Worthy.

The September 14-15 forum at Augsburg University featured Nobel Peace Prize laureates who have navigated the paradoxes between conflict and reconciliation, between justice and forgiveness, between hope and fear. The event drew other media coverage as well:

Star Tribune — Project brings together Minneapolis police, black men in quest for understanding.

Star Tribune Business Columnist Neal St. Anthony — Business warming to greener economy that combats climate change

MPR Presents — Peter Gleick on ‘The World’s Freshwater: From Conflict to Peace’