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President Pribbenow sitting at a table with Augsburg students.

Notes from President Pribbenow: On ‘Radical Roots’

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President Paul Pribbenow (Photo by Courtney Perry)

For the past two years, I have worked with three of my Augsburg colleagues (Sociology Professor Tim Pippert, Associate Nursing Professor Katie Clark ’10 MAN, ’14 DNP, and former Sabo Center staff member Green Bouzard) on a volume that tells the story of Professor Joel Torstenson ’38 and his legacy at Augsburg in our curriculum, co-curriculum, and community engagement programs. Professor Torstenson, who passed away in 2007, spent his career as a professor of sociology here at his alma mater. Along the way, he was instrumental as Augsburg embraced its urban setting and transformed the university’s commitment to teaching its students at the intersections of mission and place, vocation, and location.

The book is titled “Radical Roots: How One Professor Transformed a University,” and it will be published later this fall (more to come on how you can order a copy!). As we have shared the manuscript with interested readers outside the Augsburg community, the response has been gratifying because it confirms Augsburg’s national reputation as a university that believes in the public purposes of higher education—a reputation that has been shaped by 60 years of innovation and genuine commitment to education for service.

As I read through this edition of Augsburg Now, I am struck again by how those radical roots, first tended by Professor Torstenson and his colleagues in the 1960s, continue to shape Augsburg’s latest innovations. Augsburg Family Scholars, led by Professor Pippert, is a perfect example of seeing a need in the world—in this case, students in the foster care system who need support to attend college—and organizing a program to meet those needs. The faculty and students in our distinguished Department of History lean into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Augsburg community and seek ways to document that impact for future generations. The staff and students who lead our on-campus art galleries forge close partnerships with area artists to tell stories of marginalized communities. And our Physician Assistant Studies faculty and students focus attention on the needs of rural and underserved communities, and get to work meeting those needs.

Radical roots, indeed. Roots that are strong and deep, and that will continue to ensure that an Augsburg education is always education for service!

Faithfully yours,

Paul C. Pribbenow, President

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