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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.

Star Tribune Highlights River Semester as Students Prepare to Set Sail

Star Tribune logoThe Star Tribune visited campus last week to spend some time with Associate Professor Joe Underhill and a handful of River Semester students as they sanded, primed, and assembled boats, part of final preparations to set sail down the Mississippi in early September. 

“Instead of traveling to a foreign country, they’ll study on the Mississippi River, sailing, paddling, camping, taking classes and conducting research. The program, which launches this week, is open to college students across the country, and instructors say they know of no other quite like it,” reported the Star Tribune.

“The students will stop in places like St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans, meeting a wide variety of community organizers, researchers and other local residents along the way. They’ll talk about climate change, test water quality and measure biodiversity. They’ll learn how politics and racism affected development along the river — and how similar events are playing out today.” 

River Semester is a program of Augsburg’s Center on Global Education and Experience, which also operates Augsburg University study centers in Africa, Europe, and Latin America with an emphasis on social justice and community engagement. CGEE provide global experiences for students, institutions for higher education, non-profit organizations, businesses, churches, and others.

Read the full article: “Forget study abroad. These college students will spend the semester on the Mississippi River.”

Augsburg University Named Among Nation’s Most LGBTQ-Friendly

White Auggie eagle on rainbow backgroundAugsburg University has been named one of the top 30 colleges and universities for LGBTQ+ students, according to Campus Pride, the leading national organization dedicated to building future LGBTQ and ally leaders and creating safer communities at colleges and universities. Augsburg is the only institution from Minnesota to receive Campus Pride’s Best of the Best recognition in 2023.

“Earning a spot on Campus Pride’s Best of the Best list recognizes an institution’s efforts to create a safe and welcoming campus for their LGBTQ+ students, staff and faculty,” said Campus Pride Founder, CEO and Executive Director Shane Mendez Windmeyer. “In the current climate, in which LGBTQ+ identities have become political talking points and laws are being weaponized against LGBTQ+ people, the commitment to creating campuses that welcome and protect LGBTQ+ students can not be taken for granted. The colleges and universities that made our list this year deserve this recognition for the efforts they have made and continue to make.”

Augsburg’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) Student Services office works to improve the campus environment for all students, staff, faculty, and visitors by developing and supporting inclusive understandings of gender and sexuality. Activities include:

  • Advising, advocacy, mentorship, and support for LGBTQIA+ -identified students;
  • Development of student knowledge and leadership skills;
  • Promoting awareness and visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community on campus;
  • Providing networking and social opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ and allied campus community;
  • Training students, staff, and faculty about gender and sexual equity to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment;
  • Advocating for change in policies, practices, and procedures across the campus to be more equitable to LGBTQIA individuals.

Two LGBTQIA+ student organizations, Queer Pride Alliance and Queer Indigenous People of Color, host a number of events for the Augsburg community throughout the year. At the annual Lavender Celebration, graduating LGBTQIA+ and ally students are honored with a rainbow cord to wear at commencement, and the community recognizes outstanding individuals for their work and contributions for queer and trans students at Augsburg.

Campus Pride’s 2023 Best of the Best LGBTQ-friendly list includes 30 four-year public and private colleges and universities from around the country. Each institution achieved 5 out of 5 stars and the highest percentage scores on the Campus Pride Index (CPI), the premier national benchmarking tool measuring LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs, and practices on college and university campuses. The Campus Pride Index rates colleges and universities based on self-reporting of LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices, such as non-discrimination statements inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, gender affirming health care, LGBTQ+ peer mentorship programs, campus safety training on sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBTQ-specific major and course offerings, and the presence of LGBTQ & ally student and faculty organizations. The full Campus Pride 2023 Best of the Best list is available online at CampusPride.org/BestoftheBest.

Learn more about programming and support resources available through Augsburg’s LGBTQIA+ Student Services.

Continuing Ed Series Equips Teachers to Support Students’ Mental Health

Teachers play an increasingly critical role in supporting mental health needs among children and youth. A new set of continuing education courses from Augsburg University aims to ensure that they have the resources and training to do so in a transformative and culturally responsive way.

The Certificate in Supporting Student Mental Health for K-12 Teachers, offered by Augsburg’s Center for Adult and Continuing Education, provides K-12 educators an equity-based approach to mental health, trauma, and social-emotional learning. Each self-paced, online, on-demand course meets state continuing education requirements for maintaining licensure.

The three modules can be taken individually (4 hours each) or altogether (12 hours total). Teachers who complete all three courses will receive the Supporting Student Mental Health for K-12 Teachers certificate.

  • Understanding Mental Health and Suicide Prevention provides an overview of the history of mental health care; signs and symptoms of mental illness in children and adolescents; how to recognize and minimize mental illness stigma; and resources available for teachers, students, families, and caregivers focused on recovery and suicide prevention.
  • Trauma-Informed Practices for K-12 Classrooms helps teachers build a foundation to create a safe learning space for students who have experienced chronic stress and trauma; recognize the symptoms of trauma and its relationship to mental illness; and promote healing in the classroom.
  • Transformative Social and Emotional Learning guides participants through a social and emotional learning framework that is rooted in equity, identity, belonging, and community justice. It is designed to help teachers move beyond teaching and modeling competencies to a place of reflective practice that focuses on examining educational conditions.

The series honors the legacy of the late Claudia Murray, a sophomore psychology major and midfielder on the Augsburg women’s soccer team who passed away unexpectedly in 2022. Generous support from the Murray family will provide a 50% discount to the first 100 participants.

“We were offered a beautiful opportunity with this gift and we aimed to create enriching courses by collaborating with both on and off campus experts,” said Jennifer Diaz, associate professor and chair of Augsburg’s Department of Education. “We are excited about what the courses have to offer educators working to value and meet students where they are across their diverse and complex lived experiences.”

Drawing on Augsburg’s outstanding faculty and centers of expertise, the Center for Adult and Continuing Education offers a growing number of live, online, and on-demand courses. For more information or to register, visit the CACE website.

Augsburg Health Commons Bring Drop-In Care to New Locations

PA faculty member Vanessa Bester is seated on a stool providing foot care at a Health Commons location.The Augsburg Health Commons is expanding to bring its proven model of accompaniment-based care to more neighbors through new partnerships and locations.

Late last year, an agreement with M Health Fairview and Redeemer Center for Life formalized a partnership at the Living Room in the Harrison neighborhood of north Minneapolis, where a drop-in site based on the Health Commons model had operated since 2012. Following a disruption of in-person services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the site was re-opened in October 2022 under the leadership of Augsburg Physician Assistant Program Director Vanessa Bester.  

This summer, the first Health Commons in St. Paul opened in the Conway Community Center through a partnership with M Health Fairview, the Sanneh Foundation, and the East Side Health & Well-Being Collaborative. Health Commons Executive Director Katie Clark and Augsburg Board of Regents Chair Dennis Meyer will join St. Paul community leaders on August 16 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Health Commons East

These new locations join long-standing Health Commons sites at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis and in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood

“Our nursing and physician assistant faculty, along with our students, are committed to the vision of a drop-in center that focuses on the needs of the communities we serve to address health inequities and other deep-rooted issues faced when seeking care,” said Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow. “Augsburg is especially pleased to extend our efforts to the East Side St. Paul neighborhood.”

Augsburg’s Health Commons sites are health-focused drop-in centers led and organized by nursing and physician assistant faculty members, Augsburg students, volunteers, and community members. Developed by Augsburg nursing faculty in the early 1990s, the Health Commons model is founded on principles of hospitality and relationship development that leads to transcultural understanding and health benefits for all participants. 

The people who come to the Health Commons are from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and many are unhoused or marginally housed. Health concerns might include nutrition, medication, stress management, respiratory conditions, injuries, skin problems, and chronic disease such as diabetes and hypertension. Everyone is welcome, and all services are provided free of charge, without proof of need or time constraints. 

Augsburg’s PA program has taken on a growing role as new partnerships and locations have developed. The PA program has led the expansion of services at the Cedar-Riverside Health Commons, connecting with community members providing foot care, a need across many marginalized communities. 

“The PA program is humbled and honored to bring the model of accompaniment-based care into our curriculum and medical practice. Faculty, staff and students are able to build connections, meet people where they are at in their health journey, and learn how health inequities are impacting the people we care for every day. The Harrison neighborhood, Cedar-Riverside, Central Lutheran, and now East St. Paul are the paradigm of what providing health and care should look like in every community,” said Bester. 

To learn more, volunteer, or support the Health Commons, visit augsburg.edu/healthcommons.

MPR Highlights Growing StepUP Partnerships

MPR News logoA leader in the collegiate recovery movement for more than 25 years, StepUP® at Augsburg University is now poised to reach more students through new partnerships with Twin Cities-area colleges and universities. Minnesota Public Radio recently featured StepUP Director Ericka Otterson, Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator Nell Hurley, and Ethan Laugen ’24 in a story about the need for recovery support in higher education. 

StepUP provides an array of support services for students in recovery, including sober living college experience in Oren Gateway Center, weekly meetings with alcohol and drug counselors, and access to a strong alumni network. With new partnerships forming post-COVID-19, including a formal agreement with the University of St. Thomas, these resources will be available to more students from across the Twin Cities metro. 

“There’s no shortage of need, and students time and again will say the community has been the most valuable aspect of participating in this program,” Otterson told MPR. “So the larger the community is each year, the more opportunity there is for that.”

“This is my community,” said Laugen. “Instead of a student group or a frat, it’s StepUP. These are my people who get me, who understand me, who I get along with. And it has given me the college experience in the way that I needed a college experience.”

Listen or read more via MPR: “Amid addiction need, Augsburg’s student recovery program seeks more participants”

Making College Accessible to Foster Youth

Professor Tim Pippert talking with two students
From left to right: Madelyne Yang, Donovan Holmes, and Tim Pippert

Professor Tim Pippert and Madelyne Yang ’26 were recently interviewed by The Imprint about Augsburg Family Scholars, a program to narrow the opportunity gap for students with foster care backgrounds.

Augsburg Family Scholars builds on Minnesota’s Fostering Independence Higher Education Grant. This “last dollar” program provides state funding to cover tuition, fees, room and board and other expenses related to the cost of attending college. Pippert told The Imprint that the state grants are “a game changer,” but aren’t enough on their own. 

To bridge the gap, Augsburg Family Scholars supplements the state grant with comprehensive academic and community support. Last year, a dozen Augsburg students participated in the program, which provides help moving to campus, laptops, access to year-round housing, a dedicated lounge space on campus, community outings, and more. Pippert, the Joel Torstenson endowed professor of sociology, directs the program and serves as an advisor to the participants, helping them strategize how to navigate the demands of higher education. 

“If you’ve made it to college, you’ve overcome so many hurdles already,” he said. “If you’ve made it this far, it’s our responsibility to help students finish the job and get a degree.”

Read the full story from The Imprint or learn more about Augsburg Family Scholars

Najeeba Syeed Named to Interfaith Leaders in Higher Education Council

Najeeba Speed speaking at Interfaith eventInterfaith America has appointed Najeeba Syeed, El-Hibri chair and executive director of Interfaith at Augsburg, to the inaugural Interfaith Leaders in Higher Education Council. This council serves as a point of connection for educators dedicated to interfaith work both in their respective institutions and throughout the higher education field. The council will meet quarterly with the Interfaith Leadership Institute team to offer their expertise on undergraduate programming and expand their own interfaith leadership skills. “I’m profoundly thankful to Interfaith America,” Syeed says. “What an incredible group of leaders to serve and serve with, and a wonderful organization to be a part of.” 

Read more from Interfaith America: Meet the Inaugural Interfaith Leaders in Higher Education Council

WCCO highlights the “We Are Water MN” exhibit on campus

WCCO logoThe traveling “We Are Water MN” exhibit has moved into Augsburg’s Oren Gateway Center lobby with interactive displays designed to strengthen Minnesotans’ relationship with water. This exhibit is a collaboration between six state partners and is hosted by the Somali Museum of Minnesota. WCCO came to campus to hear about how water issues impact local communities by interviewing Osman Ali, founder and executive director of the Somali Museum of Minnesota, and Britt Gangeness with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Both individuals shared their perspectives on how water connects people, communities, and countries across the world.

“We Are Water MN” will be running at Augsburg’s Oren Gateway Center until August 14. The building will be open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Watch or read the full segment: “We Are Water MN” exhibit connects Minnesota’s cultures through water.”

Augsburg University Statement on Supreme Court Decision to Strike Down Race-Conscious Admissions

Three students walk under leafy trees on the Augsburg campus towards a maroon banner that reads "Augsburg University"The Augsburg community is committed to intentional diversity in our life and work. This commitment aligns with our use of holistic application review and our direct admissions approach, launched in fall 2022. Because direct admissions does not consider race as a factor, Augsburg’s current admissions processes are unlikely to be affected by the SFFA v. Harvard/UNC ruling—despite potentially far-reaching impacts for higher education.

Augsburg’s experience with direct admissions may serve as a useful case study on alternative strategies to lower barriers for historically underrepresented and marginalized student populations following this decision. 

Media contact: Rachel Farris, farrisr@augsburg.edu

Assistant Professor Shayna Sheinfeld Wins Outstanding Book Award

Image of book cover that shows a painting of a woman with dark eyes and heavy eyebrows. White text on a red background reads, "Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean," Sara Parks, Shayna Sheinfeld, and Meredith J.C. Warren Shayna Sheinfeld, assistant professor of religion and philosophy, received the 2023 Frank W. Beare Award from the Canadian Society for Biblical Studies for her book, “Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean.” 

Co-authored with Sara Parks and Meredith J. C. Warren, “Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean” is the first undergraduate textbook dedicated to introducing women’s religious roles in Judaism and Christianity in a way that is accessible to students from all disciplines. In addition to contextualizing overviews, it includes explorations of specific topics in women’s religion, including leadership, domestic ritual, women as readers and writers of scripture, and women as innovators in their traditions. 

The Frank W. Beare award recognizes an outstanding book in the areas of Christian origins, post-biblical Judaism, and/or Graeco-Roman religions.