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Stewardship of place and people

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picture of Paul PribbenowThe Augsburg College mission statement says that Augsburg “educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders.”

These aspirations for our students require that all of us who are part of the Augsburg community consider how we model in our lives and work the core values embodied in these aspirations. In other words, we need to live what we teach!

This issue of Augsburg Now offers several examples of how we are seeking as a college community to live as thoughtful stewards.

You’ve read in past issues of this magazine the remarkable progress we have made as an institution in our commitment to environmental stewardship—composting leftover food from the cafeteria, community gardens on campus, new biodiesel production methods, and a commitment to carbon neutrality by 2019.

All important work, but stewardship is a rich concept and extends to our care for all of the gifts we have been given as a community. I am particularly struck by how our College has explored ways in which we care for our physical location and facilities. The 2010 Campus Space and Master Plan is not simply a map to future facilities; it is a statement of values around stewardship of the land and buildings we occupy and the need for us to be constantly vigilant about the opportunities to renew, reuse, and extend the life of our spaces and buildings. In addition, the plan points to our commitment to stewarding relationships with our neighbors, building facilities and designing landscapes that welcome our neighbors to campus rather than keep them away.

Stewardship is also about people—and as I was reminded again this year at our Homecoming celebrations, Augsburg is all about people. The upcoming celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX—the landmark federal legislation that seeks to ensure equity for women and men in intercollegiate athletics—is an example of what it means to be good stewards of our people. For years and years, women students at Augsburg participated in athletics without the support and recognition enjoyed by their male counterparts. A couple of years ago, we honored those unheralded women Auggies with the athletic letters they never received while on campus. Now, we lift up our enduring commitment to opportunities for all Auggie student-athletes. Our recent news about establishing the first intercollegiate

women’s lacrosse program in Minnesota is just one example of how we steward the gifts of people—students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends who make Augsburg strong!

In 1931, the renowned 20th-century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote in The Christian Century an essay with the provocative title, “Is Stewardship Ethical?” His indictment of Christians for the ways in which they had turned stewardship into random programs of fundraising and voluntarism stands as a relevant challenge to all of us.

We are called to be thoughtful stewards. Stewardship is a way of life. At Augsburg, we are working hard to live what we teach.

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