Support for Associate Professor Mzenga Wanyama

(Updated May 2019)

Augsburg University is sharing this background about the immigration case involving Associate Professor Mzenga Wanyama to keep our campus and the public informed.

Status with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The Board of Immigration Appeals has granted Mzenga Wanyama’s motion to reopen the asylum application for him and his wife, Mary Mzenga, for another hearing. Their case will now be transferred back to the local immigration court in the Twin Cities where they will be allowed to present new evidence in support of the asylum application and application for cancellation of removal. This decision allows them to remain in the U.S. while the immigration court reviews their case.

On August 31, 2018, the Board of Immigration Appeals granted a stay of removal. As a result, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement couldn’t deport them until the Board issued a decision on the merits of the motion to reopen the asylum case.

ICE had previously informed them that they were required to depart the United States in October 2018.

Background
On April 5, 2018, Wanyama and his wife were informed in a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement that ICE would allow them 90 days to depart the United States. During a June 29, 2018 meeting ICE confirmed that it had extended their departure date from July 4, 2018 to August 3, 2018. The ICE office had asked them to return to the office on July 25, 2018 for a check-in.

On July 25, 2018, ICE then informed them that they would have to depart the United States on September 9, 2018. He was required to bring the plane tickets with a September 9 departure data to a check-in appointment with ICE on September 4, 2018. The September 9, 2018 departure was later extended 30 days.

Meanwhile, a motion to reopen Dr. Wanyama’s asylum application based on changed country conditions and a stay of removal was filed earlier that summer with the Board of Immigration Appeals. Once ICE was unwilling to use its discretionary authority any longer, his attorney requested the emergency review of the stay of removal that was granted August 31, 2018. If the stay had not granted, he and his wife would most likely have had to leave the U.S. in October 2018.

Augsburg University statements
Augsburg issued a statement from Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow following the Wanaymas’ April 5, 2018 ICE meeting, as well as statements before and following the previous ICE meeting, on March 9, 2018. These statements are posted below:

Augsburg University Faculty Senate statement
The Faculty Senate of Augsburg University wishes to express our unanimous and unconditional support for our friend and colleague, Professor Mzenga Wanyama. We urge all those who care about Professor Wanyama to consider signing the petition on his behalf at https://www.change.org/p/augsburg-university-support-augsburg-professor-mzenga-wanyama.

Augsburg University faculty statement
The Augsburg University faculty calls on the U.S. government to halt plans for the unjust deportation of our colleague Professor Mzenga Wanyama and his spouse and Augsburg nursing student Mary Mzenga and to permit their continued work and residence in the US. We stand against the anti-immigrant sentiment that is prompting the current wave of deportations and proudly affirm our status as an institution that supports the many immigrant and refugee members of our academic community.

Website
A website, www.mzenga.com, has been created by friends and supporters of Mzenga and Mary Wanyama. The site includes a statement from the Wanyamas, information about the next Immigration and Customs Enforcement meeting, and information about getting involved and providing support.

Work authorization and sponsorship
Augsburg University complies with federal law that requires employers to verify that employees are eligible to work in the United States. Professor Wanyama has authorization to work in the United States, issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Sponsorship for permanent resident status is not an option at this time due to a restriction related to a J-1 two-year home residency requirement. The two-year home residency requirement means that those who come to the U.S. in J-1 status cannot become permanent residents in the U.S., change status, or get work or family-based visa status until they return to their country of last permanent residence for at least two years cumulatively. A request to waive the two-year home residency requirement was filed several years ago, but the waiver was denied. Augsburg is working with legal counsel to pursue all options available to us under the current scenario.

New Dean To Lead Augsburg Commitment To Student-Centered Learning In Arts & Sciences

Augsburg University has named Ryan K. Haaland as the dean of Arts & Sciences, responsible for providing vision and leadership for faculty and academic programs, and supporting Augsburg’s emphasis on student-centered learning.  

Haaland comes to Augsburg from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, with many years of collaborative leadership experience in multiple institutional contexts, and 21 years of distinguished service in the U.S. Air Force.  

“Ryan is a passionate educator who shares Augsburg’s commitments to the liberal arts tradition and to serving students from groups historically underrepresented in higher education,” said Karen Kaivola, Augsburg’s provost and chief academic officer. “He will support faculty excellence, and his experience in programmatic innovation that prepares students for meaningful work in the 21st century will be a benefit to our students long after they graduate.”

Haaland will transition to Augsburg this summer and be on campus full-time in July. He also will hold a tenured faculty appointment as professor of physics.

“I’m eager to support the Augsburg mission of educating students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders,” Haaland said. “I also am dedicated to advancing Augsburg’s commitments to equity and inclusion.”

A nationally-recognized leader in broadening participation and diversity in STEM education, Haaland has received numerous grants and developed strategic partnerships that advance pathways and opportunities for students with industry, federal institutions, and research universities. Haaland currently serves as Arts and Sciences Liaison to the Provost at Fort Lewis College, where he is professor and chair of the Department of Physics and Engineering. He serves in this dean-equivalent position with cabinet-level responsibilities that include representing 15 academic departments and 25 degree-granting programs. He helped lead the design and construction of a $35 million state-of-the-art science and engineering facility at Fort Lewis College, where he also developed and launched new computer engineering and interdisciplinary environment science programs. He brings extensive engagement and outreach experience with community partners, alumni, and members of the Board of Trustees.

Haaland joined Fort Lewis College in 2006 as a faculty member after serving 12 years in the Department of Physics at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he rose through the faculty ranks from instructor to associate professor and department chair, in addition to other leadership roles. Haaland earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, a master of science degree in space physics from UCLA, and a doctorate of philosophy in physics from the University of Oxford, England.

Act Six Scholarship Winners Featured in Channel 5 Minnesota Moment

Augsburg University Dean of Students Sarah Griesse with an Act Six scholar.
Augsburg University Dean of Students Sarah Griesse with an Act Six scholar.

On March 12, 45 of the Twin Cities’ most promising high school urban leaders received the Act Six scholarship, an initiative of Urban Ventures. Act Six is Minneapolis-St. Paul’s only full-tuition, full-need urban leadership award. Augsburg University is proud to be one of the six partner colleges, all of which are located in the Metro area.

Watch the full report at KSTP Channel 5’s website.

Augsburg’s Reinaldo Moya Wins Prestigious Music Award

Assistant Professor of Music Composition Reinaldo Moya was a recipient of an award in music announced by The American Academy of Arts and Letters. Moya was awarded one of two $15,000 Charles Ives Fellowships.

Candidates for music awards are nominated by the 250 members of the Academy. The awards will be presented at the Academy’s annual Ceremonial in May.

View the announcement.

WCCO interviews Assistant Biology Prof about the benefits of frigid weather

Emily Schilling on WCCO
Emily Schilling on WCCO

WCCO featured an Augsburg faculty member in a story about the up side of the recent extreme cold.

Emily Schilling, who teaches biology at Augsburg University, says the hard freeze is good for our great bodies of water.

“It means the spring thaw will likely come later because we have more ice, it takes longer to melt, and that’s really good for our cold water fish species,” she told WCCO. “They like the water to stay cold.”

View the WCCO story

Mathematics prof Suzanne Dorée receives prestigious teaching award

Professor Doree at the MAA awardsMathematics professor Suzanne Dorée received the Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics at the Mathematical Association of America award ceremony on January 17, 2019. Dorée was recognized for her success in teaching effectiveness at Augsburg and for her national work with the Mathematical Association of America, the Charles A. Dana Center, and a number of presentations and workshops on campuses throughout the U.S.

See full article.

Star Tribune Explores Diversity at Augsburg University

Star Tribune photo

The Star Tribune showcased Augsburg’s work to build an inclusive learning community as the student body has become increasingly diverse.

There is much challenging work underway, and we are grateful for the many student voices and perspectives helping shape Augsburg’s response to the very real issues of discrimination in our world.

View the article.

 

History Professor Bill Green talks with Prairie Public about his new book

Bill Gree's book coverAugsburg History Professor Bill Green was interviewed by Prairie Public about his new book “The Children of Lincoln: White Paternalism and the Limits of Black Opportunity in Minnesota, 1860-1876.”

Green has published articles, op-ed pieces, and book chapters on history, law, and education, and he has previously published books on race and civil rights in Minnesota history. He also has served as a past president of the Minneapolis Public Schools.

Listen to his interview here.

 

MPR News highlights artwork at the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion

Art at Hagfors CenterAugsburg University President Paul Pribbenow spoke with Marianne Combs of MPR News about the artwork in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion.

Forecast Public Art connected Augsburg with a network of diverse artists, then helped create a selection process that would knit together the different disciplines taught at Augsburg.

“That was important to us because, at this point, Augsburg’s undergraduate population is almost 50 percent students of color, and so we want to reflect the communities they come from,” Pribbenow said.

During the interview with Combs, Pribbenow also pointed to the art across the glass windows, depicting Martin Luther’s handwritten version of ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God.’

See full article and a link to the audio at the MPR News website.

Learn about the artists.

Star Tribune: Composition Assistant Professor Reinaldo Moya Narrates Migrant Journey

Reinaldo Moya’s “The Way North” tells the story of a Central American migrant making a journey to the United States through Mexico, leaving everything behind. Moya is a Composition Assistant Professor at Augsburg University and was recently featured in a Star Tribune article about “The Way North,” the main work on Minneapolis pianist Matthew McCright’s new album.

“I got a grant from the State Arts Board. Reinaldo and I had been talking about what we might do for the project.” McCright said. “We came up with the idea of immigration — a very rough idea in the beginning, of a migrant journey to the United States.”

Read the complete Star Tribune story.