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This section of the News and Media Services department site tracks stories in print and broadcast media that feature Auggie faculty, students, and staff. The area also is home to material developed for University-related programs, events, and more.

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

 

Community Gathering: Weaving Together the Past, Present, and Future of 2511 E. Franklin Avenue

Neighbors and community members are invited to attend an upcoming gathering about the past, present, and future of 2511 E. Franklin Ave. 

Augsburg University recently announced an agreement to sell the property to the Somali Museum of Minnesota to develop a permanent museum facility and cultural center on the former Bethany Lutheran Church site. The university has worked with community-based developer Redesign to identify a financially sustainable, community-serving use for the property that contributes to the vitality of the East Franklin corridor. During the 2023 legislative session, the Somali Museum was approved for state funding to advance the project. 

A community gathering will take place on Saturday, April 27, from 12:30–3:30 p.m. at Matthews Recreation Center (2318 29th Ave. S., Minneapolis). All are welcome to learn about the Somali Museum and the vision for the project and to share stories about the site’s history and place in Seward. RSVPs for the April 27 event are encouraged but not required. 

Augsburg Named a 2024–25 Military Friendly® School 

Blue seal with white and blue lettering that reads: Military Friendly School '24-25 GoldAugsburg University has been named a 2024–25 Military Friendly® School, earning a gold ranking.

Military Friendly® Schools strive toward and succeed in the areas that matter most in helping veterans make the transition from the military to school and, ultimately, satisfying careers in the civilian world. 

The Military Friendly® Schools list is created each year based on extensive research using public data sources from more than 8,800 schools nationwide, input from student veterans, and responses to the proprietary, data-driven Military Friendly® Schools survey from participating institutions. More than 1,800 schools participated in the 2024–2025 survey with 537 earning special awards for going above the standard.

Learn more about how Augsburg proudly supports military veterans and those who actively serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Augsburg Students Win Competitive National Scholarships, Fellowships

Luke Omodt smiles at camera while wearing a maroon shirt. Little waterfalls and greenery are behind him.
Luke Omodt ’25
Emma Joswiak-McLaughlin smiles at the camera in a living room. She has brown eyes and a kind face.
Emma Joswiak-McLaughlin ’24
Elizabeth Goff smiles at the camera in front of a white background and bouquet of flowers.
Elizabeth Goff ’25
Sara Sirag smiles at the camera in front of a while wall. She's wearing a pink long sleeve shirt.
Sara Sirag ’25
Anna Hudak smiles at the camera. Her hair is curly, and she is outside.
Anna Hudak ’25

This spring, Augsburg students have received awards and scholarships from some of the top programs across the country, highlighting different disciplines, experiences, locations, and goals. Meet our award winners and explore their areas of interest. 

Goldwater Scholarship

Luke Omodt ’25 has been named a Goldwater Scholar, one of the top STEM awards in the country. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation provides scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Omodt, a physics and chemistry double major, is currently conducting computational materials science research with Assistant Professor of Physics Daniel Hickox-Young, which will continue into the summer thanks to funding from Dean and Amy Sundquist. Previously, Omodt conducted research with Assistant Professor of Physics Moumita Dasgupta, as well as at the University of Minnesota and Cornell University. 

Fulbright Teaching Assistantship

Emma Joswiak-McLaughlin ’24 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Bulgaria. The education major is a member of the National Education Association Aspiring Educators program as well as Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Studies Honor Society. She has worked for Augsburg’s Writing Center and is currently student-teaching at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. To prepare for her Fulbright grant, Joswiak-McLaughlin has been volunteering at a number of animal rescue organizations, learning Bulgarian, and attempting to cook Bulgarian cuisine. 

Critical Language Scholarship Spark

Elizabeth Goff ’25 is majoring in psychology and has a double minor in studio art and religion. She won the Critical Language Scholarship Spark, a year-long program designed to help undergraduate students learn languages and enhance their global engagement. Over the summer, Goff will be studying Russian virtually. Only 10% of applicants win the award nationwide. She hopes to use this new knowledge to help her with her research in the future. “With CLS Spark, I will have the ability to expand my knowledge in other countries’ methods in research when it comes to social isolation, loneliness, and accessibility for homebound and at-risk populations,” Goff says.

Peace Scholars

On campus, Augsburg’s Norway Hub recently announced the 2024-25 Peace Scholars. Sara Sirag ’25 and Anna Hudak ’25 will be representing Augsburg University while in Norway this summer. The goal of the Peace Scholars program is to develop student leaders inspired to careers or lifelong interests in world peace issues. While attending University of Oslo International Summer School, these students will deepen their understanding of the central issues and theories regarding conflict, war, and peace. 

Sirag is a social work major and first-generation college student. She was born in Eritrea and raised in Minnesota. Her passion for prison reform and studying mass incarceration informs her interest in Norway and peace studies. She has a strong appreciation for Norway’s welfare systems and their prison systems rooted in rehabilitation and restorative justice. Her goal is to work with diverse populations while challenging and pushing herself to understand different systems. She believes in advocating for change and those enduring injustices across the world.

Hudak is an international relations and history double major, with a minor in music. She’s from Prior Lake, Minnesota. During her time studying abroad in Greece, Anna developed a passion for peace studies and promoting intercultural dialogue, recognizing its power as a catalyst for positive change in an increasingly interconnected world. In addition to teaching English in Greece after graduation, Anna hopes to use her affinity for writing and storytelling to illuminate underrepresented narratives and non-violent conflict resolutions as a peace journalist.

Congratulations to these students on their outstanding achievements!

Chris Stedman ’08 Talks Religious “Nones” With MPR

MPR News logoOn March 5, Chris Stedman ’08 joined Minnesota Public Radio to talk about religious “nones”—people who check the “none” box when asked about their religious affiliation. Stedman, who teaches in Augsburg’s Department of Religion and Philosophy, is working on a book that explores the cultural forces behind the rise in “nones.” His conversation with Cathy Wurzer was part of a new Minnesota Now series called “Faith in Minnesota.”

“I don’t think it’s that religion is going away,” Stedman said. “Rather I think there are these cultural forces that are pushing people out of religious institutions and institutions more broadly, as you say, things like consumerism that pushes us to think of ourselves as individual consumers rather than part of this larger whole, things like increasingly precarious employment, which makes it harder to participate regularly in things and makes us feel like religion or spirituality is something we have to do on our own time fitted in between all our other commitments and obligations if we have time to think about it at all.

“So to me, if people are worried about the decline of religious affiliation or participation, the biggest thing they can do honestly is to work toward a more equitable and just world where people have more time to consider life’s big questions, to get engaged with the world around them, and connect and participate and belong. And this is why I love teaching this religion class I teach at Augsburg because my main goal there is simply to help carve out space in my student’s busy, demanding lives to reflect on what matters to them and why and on their responsibility to the world around them, all the kinds of questions that religion at its best puts before people.”

Listen to the complete interview via MPR: “Faith in Minnesota: who are religious ‘nones’?”

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

Augsburg "A" logoAugsburg 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. 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

 

Three Augsburg Students Receive Scholarships to Serve Rural Communities

In this headshot, Michaela Althaus is wearing a black blazer and dark hair half pulled back.
Michaela Althaus ’24 MSPAS
In this headshot, Evan Bloyer is wearing a blue collared shirt and clear, plastic-framed glasses.
Evan Bloyer ’27 PsyD
In this headshot, Gwen Hermanson is wearing a patterned neck scarf, a black top, and glasses against a purple background.
Gwen Hermanson ’24 MSW

Three graduate students in Augsburg University’s health professions programs have been awarded competitive scholarships to encourage their future plans to serve in rural communities. Michaela Althaus ’24 MSPAS, Evan Bloyer ’27 PsyD, and Gwen Hermanson ’24 MSW will each receive $25,000 to support their studies this academic year. 

Provided in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, each scholarship includes an agreement with MDH to practice in a rural area of Minnesota for two years following graduation. The funding for the scholarships is a new opportunity for Augsburg students, in addition to a larger health equity grant awarded to Augsburg’s Physician Assistant Program in 2023 to train students to practice in rural and underserved communities. When students train in rural and underserved settings, they are more likely to return upon graduating.

For each of the three scholarship recipients, the commitment to serving rural communities represents a return to their roots. “Working in rural healthcare settings over the past 10 years with underserved populations as both a nursing assistant and counselor for adolescent mental health and addiction has provided me with a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities inherent in these areas,” said Althaus. “From remote clinics to close-knit communities, I have witnessed the resilience and cultural richness that define rural Minnesota and the health systems within.”

Associate Professor and PA Program Director Vanessa Bester applied for the grant on behalf of Augsburg’s health professions programs. “We are proud to support outstanding Augsburg students like Michaela, Evan, and Gwen in their journey to address healthcare disparities in rural Minnesota,” she said. “These scholarships are more than just financial assistance; they are a testament to Augsburg’s collective commitment to ensuring equitable access to healthcare for all. With this program, as well as several additional Minnesota Department of Health grants, Augsburg’s health professional graduates are set to make a real difference, shaping a healthier future for everyone in Minnesota.”

Learn more about how Augsburg’s health professions programs are working together to address the rural health care shortage.

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.

Auggie Basics Receives Grant Funding to Support Students

Two maroon Augsburg banners in winter. The left banner is an Auggie the eagle graphic and the right says "We Are Called Auggies." Last week, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education awarded over $900,000 of Emergency Assistance for Postsecondary Students (EAPS) grant funding. As one of 10 Minnesota institutions to receive a grant, Augsburg University will provide additional campus-run emergency assistance to students through Auggie Basics.

Auggie Basics is a series of programs designed to support the academic, social, and emotional aspects of students’ lives. Assistance includes books, food, housing, emergency funding, support services, technology, transportation, and more. The main goal for both EAPS funding and Auggie Basics is to ensure students don’t have to leave college in order to pay for unforeseen expenses. 

The EAPS funding is expected to help an additional 1,400 students at awarded institutions. Augsburg Dean of Students Michael Grewe says, “Our office typically receives hundreds of student requests for emergency funding each year, and this grant will provide aid to students for important resources.”

Read the full Minnesota Office of Higher Education news release.

New York Times Quotes Professor Michael Lansing on Historic All-Female St. Paul City Council

New York Times wordmarkMichael Lansing, professor and chair of history at Augsburg University, was quoted in a January 10 New York Times article about the swearing-in of St. Paul’s first all-female city council. For the first time, all seven city council members are women; they are also younger and more racially diverse than any council in St. Paul’s history. 

Lansing, an active public historian, spoke to the Times about demographic shifts in recent decades that helped lay the groundwork for this historic election. The election of seven women to city council is “a turning point for St. Paul,” he told the Times.

“They’re all under 40, they come from these different backgrounds, they’re probably going to be in politics for a while,” he said. “What do they do? What can they change? How do they see things differently?”

Read the article via the New York Times: “All-Female City Council Marks a ‘Turning Point’ for a Twin City”