A new Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies department and a requirement that all faculty and staff complete diversity, equity, and inclusion training are among efforts at Augsburg University to combat systemic racism after the police killing of George Floyd near our Minneapolis campus.
“We acknowledge the pain, fear, and trauma faced by the Augsburg community, especially our students, faculty, and staff of color, that was amplified in recent weeks but remains a lived reality every day,” said Paul Pribbenow, the university’s president.
The Justice for George Floyd Initiatives being planned are an important continuation of our ongoing work to build and maintain an equitable and inclusive campus. This work by Augsburg will be persistent, resolute, courageous, and integrated into everything the university does. The Justice for George Floyd Initiatives focus on working to heal our community, creating leadership and structures that make tangible change, and ensuring accountability for the work of undoing racist systems. These initiatives include:
Funding an emerging proposal from faculty, staff, and students for a Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies department.
Completion by all faculty and staff of our robust diversity and inclusion certificate program within the next two years—and anti-racist training by the end of the fall semester.
Creating a scholarship at Augsburg in memory of George Floyd.
Establishing a fund to match donations from students, faculty, and staff to organizations doing important work, especially for Black-owned businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Expecting new accountability for inclusive, anti-racist leadership across the institution.
Reviewing Augsburg’s major academic and administrative policies and practices with a special focus on undoing bias and discrimination and enhancing student success.
Creating a new blog-format daily calendar on the Equity and Inclusion Initiatives Department webpage that lists community events and volunteer opportunities connected to the memory of George Floyd. The calendar will also have a Google form available for Augsburg community members to submit information about their own events, or events they wish to have added.
About Augsburg 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 Augsburg.edu.
HealthPartners Institute, researchers at the University of Minnesota, and Modern Logic have teamed up to create the SafeDistance smartphone application and website, a new tool that helps users track COVID-19 outbreaks using crowd-sourced information from anonymous users.
The free app sends notifications as users travel through high-risk areas. “As you’re moving around, you’ll actually see if you’re going into a higher risk area or you’re coming from a higher risk area,” Brian Krohn ’08 told Kare 11. Krohn is a project manager and entrepreneur-in-residence at Minneapolis-based Modern Logic and technical lead on the SafeDistance project.
Users of the app take a short COVID-19 symptom survey and then see a map of their neighborhood, as well as other neighborhoods. Data will not be used for-profit and users will not be asked for identifiable information. The app also offers tips about health risks and how to maintain social distancing.
Krohn, a Rhodes Scholar, has been described as a “Minnesota “Genius”. His undergraduate research at Augsburg University led him to a “Good Morning America” appearance in which he talked about a process to produce environmentally-friendly fuel, which was later commercialized in the development of a $9 million pilot plant. Among Krohn’s creations are surgery tools,wizard staffs, a cycling workout app, the Soundly app, and more recently, SafeDistance.
While the app launched recently in Minnesota, it is expected to expand across the country soon.
The New York Times recently featured Crescent Cove, Minnesota’s first children’s hospice home that specializes in end-of-life care for families with dying children. Crescent Cove was founded by Augsburg alumna Katie Lindenfelser, who majored in music therapy.
The hospice is a peaceful place for kids and parents to spend their last days together, with a 24-hour watch of specialized nurses, aides, and volunteers. This idea came about when Lindenfelser was a music therapist working with terminally-ill children in an intensive-care unit. Many parents expressed interest in a hospice home for their own sick children so that they wouldn’t have to die at home or at a hospital.
The article provides insight into the lives of the families who have used Cresent Cove and how the hospice came to be.
Olivia Maccoux ’19 spoke with Kare 11 about her journey to graduation after 140 brain surgeries. Maccoux lives with a rare condition called hydrocephalus, which causes fluid to build on the brain. “College graduation to me is a big deal,” she told Kare 11. “The doctors didn’t believe I’d make it past birth.”
On May 10, Maccoux graduated with honors from Augsburg, a day she thought would never happen. During her freshman year in college, she had a seizure in her dorm room and had to drop out of school for a time. Aside from her family and friends, her neurosurgeon was also present at the U.S. Bank Stadium commencement ceremony. She credits him for why she was able to graduate and now wants to build a career sharing her story with the world. Her experiences have given her a purpose to advocate and be a voice for those with invisible illness and disabilities. Recently, Maccoux spoke at a fundraising event in Hollywood, California, with comedian Conan O’Brien, where she helped raise $300,000 by sharing her story. “Just because you have not so great circumstances doesn’t mean your life is over” she told Kare 11.
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.
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.
Former Minnesota Supreme Court associate justice and Vikings player Alan Page was one of seven to receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor. Page’s charitable work through the Page Education Foundation has helped many students of color like Robert Harper ’16 succeed in their careers. Harper spoke with Kare 11 about how the work of Alan Page impacted his life.
“He has made me want to stay true to my passion and stay grounded in social justice work. When I came out of college I was applying to less meaningful jobs. I am a second-year graduate student at Humphrey School of Public Affairs studying public policy. That is a decision I did make with Alan,” Harper said. “He always says, ‘Make sure you hold the door open for the person behind you. Make sure you send the elevator back down.’ ”
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt reported about how Augsburg’s StepUp program has successfully helped students in recovery to graduate.
NBC’S Catie Beck talked with Neil King ’18 about the support StepUP provided him while he was a full-time student at Augsburg.
According to NBC, King began using drugs at age 14, and discovered Augsburg’s StepUp program four months into his recovery. “I really learned to believe in myself, and my skills and capabilities,” said King, who is now heading to graduate school.
StepUp Program Director Tamarah Gehlen also was interviewed by NBC. “We always say that no one should have to choose between recovery and a college education.”