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Professor Michael J. Lansing Provides Media with Historical Perspective on Racial Injustice in Minneapolis

Michael Lansing
Michael Lansing

Michael J. Lansing, associate professor and chair of Augsburg University’s Department of History, has been featured in news sources from around the United States since his May 26, 2020, Twitter thread, offering a historical perspective on racial injustices in Minneapolis, went viral.

Among the places where he has shared his expertise to explain the history leading up to the killing of George Floyd are The Washington Post, where his perspective piece, “Will Minneapolis learn from the failed handling of its last uprising?” was published on May 30; MinnPost, for which he co wrote the June 1 piece, “Is Minneapolis prepared to dismantle—not just acknowledge—structural racism?”; the Minnesota Reformer, where he was featured in the article “Twin Cities historian Michael Lansing on why this is happening,” published on June 1; and U.S. News & World Report, which quoted him in a June 4 story “The ‘Minnesota paradox’: A state grapples with stark racial disparities.”

Lansing and Augsburg also were given a brief nod in the editor’s note by Scott Carlson for a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. In the note, Carlson writes, “I am heartened by seeing my old friend Michael J. Lansing, a history professor at Augsburg University, take to Twitter and to local and national newspapers to bring context to the legacy of race and policing in the Twin Cities. We need colleges that support work like this.”

Augsburg University Launches Justice for George Floyd Initiatives

A new Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies department and a requirement that all faculty and staff complete diversity, Augsburg University logoequity, 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.

Professor Bill Green Shares Expertise in KARE 11 Story on the 1920 Duluth Lynchings

Following the death of George Floyd, KARE 11 reporter Boyd Huppert put the event in perspective for those who were shocked that such a thing could happen in Minnesota, noting that on June 15, 1920, a mob in Duluth lynched three young black circus workers. One of Huppert’s sources was Bill Green, professor of history at Augsburg University.

Speaking about a graphic photo of the lynching, Green encouraged Minnesotans to look at the picture. He commented on how the smiles on the faces of the white men who participated in the lynching impacted him. “It’s almost like they were sportsmen who’d gone off and fished; this is their catch,” he said. He believes that the current moment “is an opportunity for us to prove ourselves.”

Green is author of two books on race and civil rights in Minnesota, “A Peculiar Imbalance: The Fall and Rise of Racial Equality in Early Minnesota” and “Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865-1912.” 

Congratulations to Auggies named to the Spring Semester Dean’s List

University SealMore than 1,000 Augsburg University undergraduate students were named to the 2020 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 2020 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.

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.

Augsburg issues student emergency aid from federal coronavirus relief legislation

(Updated: July 7, 2020)

Under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Augsburg is issuing $700 of relief Augsburg University logofunding to day undergraduate students and $275 of relief funding to graduate and adult undergraduate students enrolled in the spring semester 2020. The U.S. Department of Education has directed that these funds be paid directly to students and did not allow the funds to be distributed using the university’s student accounts system, so the payments will be delivered to students via emailed digital checks, using their Augsburg.edu email address. 

The funding for the relief payments comes from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund provision of the federal CARES Act. Under this provision, Augsburg was allocated approximately $1.62 million of emergency stimulus funds by the U.S. Department of Education to distribute directly to students for expenses (including technology, course materials, food, housing, health care, or child care) specifically related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Universities were encouraged to prioritize students with the greatest need as well as ensure that the funds are distributed as widely as possible across the student body. In order for Augsburg to ensure the funds were distributed to students with demonstrated need, Augsburg designated the funds to students who completed a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as of May 1. Augsburg established the two payment levels of $700 and $275 based on the higher average need profile among students in the day undergraduate program as compared with that of students in the graduate and adult undergraduate programs.

May 21 (first 30 day report) 

Augsburg University acknowledges that it has signed and returned to the Department of Education the Certification and Agreement and the assurance that the institution intends to use no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. $1,629,621 of funds have been allocated to Augsburg University from the DOE pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students. No funds have been received or distributed by Augsburg as of this date.

July 7 (first 45 day report)

$1,380,225 of Emergency Financial Aid Grants were distributed on May 28 to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. 2,526 students at Augsburg University are eligible to participate in the federal student financial aid programs under Section 484 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, and thus are eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. All 2,526 students have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant at Augsburg University under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act. 

Augsburg University announces Augsburg Bold, including an undergraduate tuition freeze and unique new programming for incoming students

Today, more than ever, the world needs people who are equipped to navigate the complex issues of our time. Augsburg is committed to educating students for that very purpose (it’s in our vision statement), so we are launching Augsburg Bold, a set of unique programming and responses to the current environment that demonstrate our commitment to students. Below are just some of the plans we have in place—or in the works—for fall 2020.

Fall semester. What’s most important for us this fall is providing a high-quality learning environment and a safe on-campus experience. Because of uncertainty right now about what the public health requirements for our campus will be in the fall, we are developing a flexible learning model that blends on-campus and online classes. Our goal is to maximize the opportunity for students to engage directly with faculty while also ensuring the health and safety of our campus community. Our faculty will be working over the next month to design our approach to the fall semester, and we expect to provide more detail in June. 

On-campus housing. Augsburg also is preparing to welcome students to our residential community this fall. In fact, we have kept our residence halls open for students who meet certain criteria this spring, and will continue to do so through the summer. As a result, we have experience with the public health policies and practices required by the Minnesota Department of Health to help keep our community safe and healthy. This fall, we expect that all returning students will be able to live in the residential units they selected in mid-February.  And, because Augsburg has a broad variety of campus living arrangements—from apartments to traditional college residential hall units—we also are able to offer a number of campus housing options for new students. Next week, our Residence Life team will send a communication to incoming Auggies to provide more detail about the residential options available to them. 

Tuition freeze. To assist all full-time undergraduate students, a tuition freeze has been approved for the 2020-2021 academic year. The full-time tuition rate for 2020-2021 will be reset to the 2019-2020 rate. This means that returning students will not see their tuition increase for the coming year. New incoming first-year and transfer students will receive a mailing that documents the revised tuition, the lower cost of attendance, and the resulting savings for the 2020-21 academic year. The amount of financial aid that students receive from Augsburg will not be reduced.

A new summer learning opportunity. This summer, Augsburg is offering—for free—a selection of our most popular courses online to our incoming undergraduate students. Designed to give students the chance to meet Augsburg’s amazing faculty, this option allows students to get a head start on earning college credits in a relaxed environment, while learning more about what to expect at Augsburg when all classes resume in the fall. Details about these special courses and instructors will be provided during Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) in June.

Technology access. No one should have to complete a research paper on a smartphone. To ensure that every Auggie has the tools needed to be successful in college, Augsburg launched a program earlier this year to support students who need laptops or internet access. More information about technology resources is posted on the Resources for Students page of Augsburg’s Outbreak Planning website.

Study abroad from home. We are excited to announce the Augsburg Experiential Semester, a new program that offers incoming students a unique opportunity to engage with Augsburg’s international sites, even while international travel is restricted. The semester courses are taught by Augsburg’s Cuernavaca, Mexico-based faculty and include engagement with culturally-diverse residents and businesses in nearby Midtown Minneapolis. Once it is again safe to travel, Augsburg will cover airfare, lodging, and meal expenses for the students in the program to travel to Augsburg’s Cuernavaca location to meet and engage in person with the faculty who taught their courses. Information about this program will be provided during Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) in June.

A distinctive experience in a committed community. The Augsburg Bold framework—including the initiatives outlined above, and potentially more to come this summer and fall—is a reflection of the distinctive experience offered at Augsburg. We understand that making friends, bonding with faculty, and discovering your gifts and callings are all part of the college experience. Augsburg University is called to help students strive toward this sense of community and discovery no matter what mode of instruction and public health practices we will need to implement to keep our community safe. 

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. 

How we keep our campus safe during the COVID-19 pandemic:
The Augsburg coronavirus task force includes an epidemiologist, nursing faculty, academic deans, global education leadership, staff from across campus, and dedicated student representatives.The task force monitors new directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health and works to implement public health guidelines across our programs. Find more details about Augsburg’s response to the pandemic and resources for students at the Outbreak Planning website.

Augsburg alum Brian Krohn ’08 behind app to track coronavirus outbreaks

Brian Krohn '08 Photo: Star Tribune
Brian Krohn ’08

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.

 

Read the full article on the Kare 11 website.

Click here to learn more and to download the app.

 

Related articles:

Pioneer Press

KSTP

Star Tribune

Videos: Faculty, staff cheer Auggies as academic year comes to an end

Spring semester 2020 has brought us significant challenges that continue to reshape so many aspects of life.

As our academic year comes to an end this week, several departments have been sharing words of encouragement to Augsburg students. We are proud of our faculty and staff who’ve worked so hard to move their classes online in such a short amount of time and the students who’ve shown patience and flexibility during this transition.

See the videos to Auggies below created by Augsburg’s Communication Studies, Film, and New Media Communications department and by Augsburg’s Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science department.

Posted by Augsburg University on Wednesday, April 29, 2020

 

Advisory: Augsburg celebrates Class of 2020 with virtual commencement

Augsburg University will host a virtual commencement ceremony to celebrate the Class of 2020.Augsburg University logo

The virtual commencement ceremony consists of a prerecorded ceremony that will be streamed online. There are two viewing times when graduates, families, and friends can watch and chat together in real time.

  • Friday, May 29, 2020, 7 p.m. Central.
  • Sunday, May 31, 2020, 2 p.m. Central.

You can follow the celebration through the hashtag #AuggieGrad on all social media platforms, where students will be sharing images of their virtual celebration.

As soon as it’s safe to have large gatherings, an in-person commencement ceremony will be planned for the Class of 2020 with the more familiar traditions of commencement.

The in-person commencement ceremony, previously scheduled for May 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium, was canceled given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit Augsburg’s commencement site for more details.