Category Archives: President Pribbenow

We Are Augsburg Strong

To many of our students, Augsburg is their home. This is the place where they make a living, make a life, and build community together. But what does that community look like when we can’t be together?

Our students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors have shown us in countless ways over the past few months how we continue to be Augsburg Strong. Through faculty creating videos to cheer on their students as the finished the semester; alumni who are actively working to fight this virus, teach their children at home, and keep our economy going; donors who have answered the call to provide emergency funding to students in need; and through our students who have graciously weathered all of these changes to finish the semester strong, I see Auggies doing what they do best.

Here are some student reactions to how the Augsburg campus has adapted during this time:

Carson Tomony, Secondary Education, Baseball ‘23 – “I’m an education major so I like school. Teachers are working hard at making this work, it helps to do Zoom classes to get the interaction with teachers and classmates, that discussion as a face-to-face really helps.”

Jacey Mismash, Communication, Arts and Literature in Secondary Education ‘22 – “All my professors are being really communicative with students, working with students to make sure everything works out.”

Erin Malkow, Social Work ‘20 – “I’ve felt nothing but support. Teachers have been reaching out and are more than willing to accommodate and provide resources as need be, that really helps with the anxiety of everything that’s going on.”

As we think of other ways to continue to support our students now and for years to come, I invite you to consider making a gift to the Augsburg Fund for our Augsburg Strong giving challenge. Today is #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity. A gift to the Augsburg Fund today allows us to deploy resources as needs and opportunities arise and is an investment for Auggie generations to come.

Augsburg’s Strategic Vision for 2019. The President’s Perspective

With only a few weeks left in 2013, our campus is busy with preparations for final exams, final papers, and the holidays. Our 34th annual Advent Vespers services were a beautiful and profound way to usher in the Christmas season; it was terrific to see so many of you there again this year and to share the good news of Advent. Despite the bustle of activity that the holidays typically bring, I have always found the closing weeks of the year to be one of the best times for reflection. This year, my reflections focus on the unique role that Augsburg plays in the world.

This topic was at the core of the strategy discussions launched by the Board of Regents last January. And, as you may have read in the fall issue of Augsburg Now, one outcome of that strategic planning work is a vision statement that looks out to 2019, our sesquicentennial year: In 2019, Augsburg will be a new kind of student-centered, urban university that is small to our students and big for the world.

How will Augsburg achieve this 2019 vision?

1) First, we will focus on educating for lives of purpose. This is our academic distinction, the core of our work.

The statement in our 2019 vision that we are “small to our students” captures the student experience that so many of our alumni tell us made a difference in their lives. Augsburg is fundamentally student-centered. Our students work with faculty, coaches, and advisors who get to know them individually. In doing so, our faculty and staff are able to recognize each individual’s strengths and help them develop their gifts and talents in ways that provide each student with a pathway for success to graduation and beyond.

Of course, our most significant initiative in this area is the plan for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR), which, as far as we know, is the only academic building of its kind to co-locate these three disciplines. The Center will allow us to expand our science and research programs, welcoming more students into programs that have opened doors to prestigious off-campus research and graduate school opportunities. The Center will also create a signature learning environment for our business program, which comprises the largest number of undergraduates on campus. By its nature, business is an interdisciplinary field—focused on planning, execution, and management in a vast number of industries. Co-locating business with science and religion enriches the learning experience for students in all three of those areas of study. Finally, by housing our religion department, the CSBR will welcome students from every single major on campus, as each of them participates in two required religion courses as part of the core curriculum, and will equip them to understand how faith and values are central to all aspects of human experience.

2) Second, Augsburg will achieve its 2019 vision by being “at the table” in shaping education to address the world’s needs.

Augsburg is widely known as an engaged community partner in Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as in Rochester and around the world. Our commitment to preparing students for lives beyond college calls us to build on that foundation and be “big for the world.” This dimension of the plan recognizes that our academic program will be distinctive because it is relevant to the needs of our community, our region, and the world.

One recent example of our work in this area is the fast-track (three-year) bachelor’s in nursing program launched this fall in partnership with Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). The program allows students to complete a single application and be admitted to both schools—finishing their first two years at MCTC, then transferring seamlessly to complete their bachelor’s degree at Augsburg. This partnership helps us to meet the growing marketplace demand in the field of nursing and, at the same time, provides nursing students an outstanding, high-value educational experience. It is a terrific example of the kind of collaborative, innovative thinking that helps us meet the needs of our region.

3) Finally, achieving our 2019 vision means that Augsburg will be “built for the future.”

Ensuring that Augsburg will thrive now and in the future requires that we maintain a welcoming and sustainable campus; organizational structures that foster collaboration, efficiency, and effectiveness; and a sound and sustainable financial footing.

An important differentiation Augsburg has in this area is our urban location. Few colleges—including those located in other parts of the Twin Cities metro area—are positioned to influence and to benefit from their location as Augsburg is. When the Central Corridor Green Line begins operation in 2014, Augsburg will be in the only neighborhood in the metropolitan area with access to both Light Rail lines, providing easy access to both downtowns and to the businesses, arts organizations, religious institutions, and civic life found there.

Our location in the city has a profound effect on student opportunities. Following are examples of just a few of our recent alumni who were actively engaged in internships during their time at Augsburg—opportunities that have served them well in their early careers:

  • Dan Brandt ’11, a marketing major, landed a public affairs and community relations internship with the Minnesota Twins during his senior year. He went on to serve in community and public relations positions with both the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Wild before transitioning to a leading public relations firm in Minneapolis. Today, he is an assistant account manager at Karwoski & Courage, one of the top 10 public relations firms in the Twin Cities.
  • Kristi Vinkemeier ’11 majored in chemistry and minored in biology. Her internship, a joint project between Aveda and SarTec Corporation, involved synthesizing new surfactants (which are used in shampoos and soaps). Kristi discovered her love of research from this experience and joined SarTec as an R&D scientist following her internship. Today, she works as an environmental health and safety coordinator at Integrated Recycling Technology, a privately held, global company specializing in the recycling of catalytic converters and high-grade circuit boards.
  • After graduating with a sociology major, Tom Thao ’11 served as an AmericCorps fellow for Minnesota Alliance with Youth, working with a north-metro public charter school to support academic achievement in its elementary school programs. Following that, he has worked as a community organizing and public relations assistant at Cycles for Change, coordinating programs to make biking accessible to under-served communities. Tom’s interest in urban planning and sustainable transportation was ignited during his internship with the Local Initiative Support Corporation, where he conducted housing and zoning research along the Central Corridor Light Rail line.

A distinctive academic program. A commitment to being at the table. And a focus on ensuring we are built for the future. That is the framework provided by our 2019 vision. I couldn’t be more excited about this strategic plan or more optimistic about the future of Augsburg College. The support you have shown in the past year—moving the CSBR campaign past the $25 million fundraising mark and making Augsburg the top fundraising college or university on Minnesota’s online Give to the Max Day last month—has provided important momentum in making sure Augsburg can continue to offer the unique education experiences we all value so deeply.

Best wishes for a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year,


Paul C. Pribbenow

Augburg Faculty Awarded Over $695,000 In National Science Foundation Grants

As we kick off Homecoming week I want to take a moment to share some exciting news regarding faculty research and applaud the ongoing scholarly and creative activities of faculty and staff that are vital to our vision to be “small to our students, big for the world.”

Three Augsburg faculty, Mark Engebretson, David Hanson, and Ann Impullitti, have been awarded competitive research grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). These grants, totaling $695,087, will support discrete research projects in physics, chemistry, and biology, and provide opportunities for undergraduate student learning and engagement in research..

Leading In The State of Minnesota

These awards demonstrate our strength in scholarship and build on the momentum of our past successes in securing grant funding. As I mentioned in last week’s State of the College address, Augsburg ranked third in Minnesota for the total dollar amount awarded by NSF in 2012. This positioned us as the leader in NSF funding among every private college in the state!

As we celebrate this great achievement, I want to also recognize the hard work and dedication of all faculty and staff. Your efforts have built and sustained the programs, supported the students, and established the relationships that make these awards possible.

To those of you who have taken the time to engage in research, scholarship or creative activities–Thank You. To those who have engaged or facilitated student participation in research, scholarship, or creative activities–Thank You. To those of you who have written proposals, received grants, mentored students, or mentored faculty–Thank You. You create the vibrant, inquiry driven environment that supports our students and the community. You make Augsburg small to our students and big for the world.

Award Details

Dr. Mark Engebretson, Professor of Physics, was granted a three year, $185,940 award from NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences for his project, “Collaborative research: Continued study of ultra low frequency (ULF) waves at cusp latitudes on Svalbard to probe earth’s space environment.” This project builds on a longstanding partnership between Augsburg and the University of New Hampshire (Dr. Marc Lessard) in an effort to better understand the dynamics of Earth’s magnetosphere and its interaction with the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field (IMF).

Svalbard, Norway is the only place in the northern hemisphere where polar cusp field lines can be observed for extended periods in darkness at noon, making it an ideal location to carry out observations of ionospheric phenomena (including dayside aurora) on magnetic field lines that map to the outer boundary of the Earth’s magnetosphere. Funding will support the continued operation of an array of four search coil magnetometers (induction antennas) located in Svalbard and the analysis of magnetometer data for studies of ULF waves and associated phenomena in Earth’s space environment.

The data from the magnetometers are valuable for a number of space physics studies, and will be made available to the scientific community through the NASA Virtual Observatories. Additionally, this project will provide undergraduate student researchers with education and training opportunities in space physics and data analysis.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. AGS-1202267.

Dr. David HansonAssistant Professor of Chemistry, was awarded $386,163 from NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences. The three year project, “Nucleation studies with sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and Nitrogenous Bases,” will test models for nucleation rates that can be incorporated into global climate models.

Nucleation is the driving force for new particle formation in the atmosphere. Newly formed particles affect clouds that greatly influence climate.  The investigation of nucleation with the atmospherically important species sulfuric acid, water and amines is the focus of this project.  The project will: 1) provide measured nucleation rates over a wide range of experimental conditions and 2) develop computation fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations of the experiments.  The comparison of laboratory results to CFD simulations will yield the free energies of formation of small molecular clusters, which are the smallest of the small particles.

The results of this project will improve the representation of particle formation processes in climate models and increase understanding of the sources of particulate matter dangerous to human health. Additionally, eight undergraduate research students will be supported over the life of the project, providing opportunities to develop technical expertise, critical thinking skills, and confidence, in addition to supporting NSF’s goal to develop a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. AGS-1338706.

Dr. Ann Impulitti, Assistant Professor of Biology, received a $122,684 Major Research Instrumentation Grant from NSF’s Division of Biological Infrastructure, and a $52,400 from the LiCor Environmental Education Fund (LEEF).   The funds will be used to purchase a suite of instruments for plant ecophysiology research.  Dr. Impulitti and her Co-Principal Investigators, Dr. John Zobitz, Associate Professor of Mathmatics, and Dr. Dean Malvick, University of Minnesota, will use the instrumentation to investigate the physiology of economically important plants infected by fungi and study mathematical modeling of ecophysiological processes. Research activities will explore: 1) the physiology and productivity of economically important plants colonized by pathogens that do not cause symptoms of disease; 2) the functional role of endophytes in plants; 3) the impact of sublethal infections by soil-borne pathogens of roots on plant productivity; and 4) the measurement of leaf-level physiological processes to parameterize ecosystem models of carbon cycling.

The instruments will be used for faculty research and undergraduate research in plant biology, environmental science, and mathematics.  Students interested in research will have opportunities to be involved in quantitative data analysis in biology and mathematics, and research in a field and/or lab. The instrument will also improve collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects with faculty at the University of Minnesota.  Results from these collaborations will improve our understanding of plant-fungal interactions, and will be applied to improving soybean yield and productivity, an important model plant due to its economic importance and growth throughout the U.S.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DBI-1337582.

If you are interested in learning more about securing grants for your research, scholarship, or creative activities, please visit or contact Erica Swift at


What Is It About Augsburg? The President’s Perspective

Greetings from Augsburg College where we have just begun our 145th academic year. We are excited that our first-year class will be one of the largest in the Colleges history and our returning students represent some of the most successful we’ve had the pleasure to teach. We are humbled by the multitude of gifts, passions, personal stories, and ambitions that these students bring to our campus. We are honored that these remarkable students have chosen Augsburg to pursue their education.

What is it about Augsburg that is attracting students today?

Last month, I was asked to speak on behalf of my presidential colleagues from Lutheran colleges and universities at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. My remarks focused on the vitality of the 26 colleges and universities of the ELCA. As I explained at the Churchwide Assembly and have mentioned in past editions of the Presidents Perspective, I’m deeply concerned about and committed to the relevance of Lutheran higher education. Our core commitments as institutions of learning are unique and particularly relevant in the 21st century. ELCA colleges share five gifts of the Lutheran tradition that form a common identity and character, and these gifts highlight the synergy between what it means to be faithful to our core Lutheran values while at the same time relevant in the 21st century. These gifts include a focus on:

(1) vocation,

(2) critical and humble inquiry,

(3) engaging others in diverse communities,

(4) serving our neighbors, and

(5) semper reformanda—a belief in the value of reform, innovation, and new ways of approaching our work.

As you may know, in the past several years, students and parents have become highly focused on the role that higher education plays in the pursuit of secure, valuable careers. Families are seeking evidence that their college investment will yield a return in the form of successful post-graduate employment. In fact, career advancement now ranks as the No. 1 reason people choose to further their education.

Here at Augsburg, we are keenly aware that students and parents expect us to prepare graduates for successful lives and careers, and, I am pleased to say, we are uniquely positioned to deliver on that promise. We equip our students for vocational journeys that take them down many different pathways – and we do it by offering an educational experience unlike any other!

Augsburg has a long tradition of preparing students for careers. In the early years of the College, we focused on education for service in ministry, teaching, nursing, social work, and other professions. The strength of our reputation in these areas is well known. What’s as impressive — though perhaps less well known — is that we’ve launched thousands of scientists and engineers into their careers during that time. We have a strong pipeline to medical, law, and other professional and graduate schools. Our alumni include small business owners and corporate leaders, actors and musicians, IT professionals, writers, and leaders in the nonprofit world. Thanks in large part to our location in the heart of the Twin Cities, our students are able to build professional relationships in the field of their choice through internships, hands-on research, and other opportunities.

Perhaps most compellingly, Augsburg prepares students best for their various roles in the world by bringing together a diverse student community from across Minnesota, the United States, and the world. Students regularly point to the diversity of the Augsburg campus as one of our most attractive qualities. In our rapidly changing world, relationships that cross traditional boundaries are essential for effective leadership, problem solving, and civic engagement.

To help you imagine what today’s students are bringing to our campus, let me tell you about three who stand out in my mind.

Hannah attended high school in rural Wisconsin and is the recipient of a President’s Scholarship, our highest merit-based award. She is passionate for musical and theatrical performance and has a record of exceptional academic achievement. As the fifth of her family’s five children to attend Augsburg, Hannah knows this is the right college for her.

Samuel attended high school in northern Minnesota and is a Regents’ Scholarship recipient. He started two-a-day practice with the Augsburg football team a couple of weeks ago, which was a great way for him to establish friendships before classes began. As a pre-med student with the additional rigor of participating in the College’s Honors Program, he is going to have a busy first semester.

Stephanie is a Twin Cities native. Her high school teacher—an Augsburg alum—encouraged her to apply to the College. Stephanie is planning to major in Special Education and is the first member of her family to attend college. She will navigate the college experience with assistance from AVID, a program dedicated to increasing student learning, completions, and success in and beyond college. Augsburg was one of the first colleges in the U.S. to pilot AVID for Higher Education, and we are fortunate to connect with smart, driven students like Stephanie because we remain the only four-year private liberal arts college in the Upper Midwest with AVID.

When Augsburg opened its doors in Minneapolis in 1872 the total population of the city was about 20,000 people. Norwegian Lutherans and educational reformers like Sven Oftedal and Georg Sverdrup believed in offering students a practical and useful education that was relevant to their time.

Today, Minneapolis offers our students exposure to global corporations, thriving nonprofits, citizenship and government in action, an internationally known arts community, beautiful lakes and parks, ethnic and cultural diversity, and more. In the midst of this great city, we hold fast to the reform-minded values of our founders. We educate students for careers and for life. Augsburg is a college of choice because it is both faithful to its past and relevant to today’s students.

As always, thank you for your continued support and for positively influencing the lives of our students.

Faithfully yours,

Paul C. Pribbenow

Experiential Education: The Augsburg College President’s Perspective

Augsburg College President Paul Pribbenow

Greetings from Augsburg College
As we enjoy the events and ceremonies of spring and look forward to the summer, I would like to take a moment to share with you some of the highlights of this season. As I’m sure you know, in April the College was honored to announce that it had received an unrestricted $10 million philanthropic gift from a 1965 alumnus. The gift—the largest in Augsburg’s history—furthered our campaign for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion, and increased to more than $23 million the funds raised for the academic building. Our students, faculty and staff, alumni, friends, and families were thrilled with this news, as the gift demonstrates resounding support for the College’s signature near-term construction project.

Our celebration continued this spring at May Commencement when we marked the graduation of nearly 400 undergraduate day college students and more than two dozen physician assistant master’s degree students. We look forward to the June 23 Commencement for our students in Weekend and Evening College, Rochester, and our other graduate degree programs.

At these ceremonies, as our students become alumni, I am reminded just how crucial it is for Augsburg to sustain its tradition of educating students by engaging in and learning from the world. In higher education, the term “outcome” has become a ubiquitous buzzword. (See for information about Augsburg student success after graduation.) The focus on outcomes underscores the importance of experience in a college degree program and highlights what we know people expect from an institution like Augsburg—that the College equips students to succeed, delivers on its promise to teach graduates the skills required in a modern workplace, and develops the intellectual framework students need for the successful pursuit of advanced careers and post-graduate education. Today our graduates are able to articulate what they have learned in their classrooms, labs, campus activities, and off-campus experiences and are able to translate how these experiences meet the expectations of graduate programs and employers.

Leading in Undergraduate Research
One key way we’ve delivered on our commitment to experiential education is through meaningful undergraduate research. This year, 60 Augsburg students are employing their talents and passions in on campus,faculty-led summer research projects. More than half of those students are funded through our Office of Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity (URGO). With the support of donors like Dean Sundquist ’81 and our sustained institutional commitment, we have grown the URGO program six-fold—from just five on-campus student researchers in 2005 to 32 this year. In addition, another 28 students’ projects are being funded this summer through the McNair Scholars Program—a U.S. Department of Education initiative that supports academic achievement among first-generation, low income, and underrepresented student groups—as well as National Science Foundation and corporate grants. In fact, in 2013, Augsburg was one of the top three Minnesota colleges and universities in National Science Foundation grant funding, positioning us as the leader in NSF grants among all private institutions in the state.

As we have so often witnessed, this type of robust experiential education has a marked influence and value in students’ applied learning, career exploration, professional growth, and preparation for their lives of meaningful work. We know that Augsburg’s faculty-led research catalyzes distinct opportunities that make a difference in the lives of our students—and, through their work, will shape advancements in science, technology, and other fields across the globe.

The tremendous impact of these research programs is evidenced by the growing number of students who leverage the skills they have learned in their on-campus experiences to obtain off-campus research positions. Two dozen of our students, in fact, have earned summer research positions at institutes, labs, and universities across the country and around the world. In early May, I had the privilege to meet with many of these students, including two of our international students who will engage in high-level malaria prevention research. Kirubel Frew ’14 and Promise Okeke ’15— Auggies from Zimbabwe and Nigeria, respectively—will conduct research at Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, which is connected to the College through Peter Agre ’70, the institute’s director and the 2003 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This will be Kirubel’s second summer at Johns Hopkins where he will continue to build his resume, network, and research skills. His work at Johns Hopkins will be topped off by an exceptional opportunity to spend time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well.

Kirubel and Promise are a natural fit for advanced malaria research. These students stand out in our science classrooms, have critical thinking and problem solving skills developed through research in Augsburg’s labs, and have a vested interest in understanding the real impact malaria plays in their home countries.

A Step Toward Graduate Studies
Just as Kirubel and Promise have discovered, Trevor Rodriguez Sotelo ’13 has found that practical experience on campus can lead to life-changing opportunities in other parts of the nation. Trevor came to Augsburg knowing since his childhood that his dream was to pursue a career in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related field. He was swept into undergraduate research after his sophomore year when the College’s director of STEM programs recognized his remarkable abilities, and he spent two summers working on biophysics projects with our science faculty just to get closer to achieving his dream job: designing automobile—specifically BMW— engines. Trevor’s work on campus bolstered his off-campus research applications and opened the door last summer to a prestigious automotive engineering position at Oakland University outside of Detroit. This May, Trevor became the first person in his family to earn a college degree, and in the fall he will take another step in pursuit of his dream by beginning Clemson University’s automotive
engineering graduate program on—get this—a BMW Fellowship.

Another fellowship awardee, Kayla Johnson ’13, exemplifies how seizing opportunities on campus can lead to tremendous opportunities after graduation. I had Kayla in the Honors Seminar course I again co-taught this past term with associate professor of sociology, Lars Christiansen. Kayla is the type of bright, inquisitive, and insightful student that professors love to teach. She excelled in her biology and mathematics degree programs; participated in research through McNair Scholars, Mayo Innovation Scholars, and the Baylor College of Medicine; and recently was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Taiwan—one of the 16 Augsburg alumni to participate in this highly competitive post-graduate program in the past several years. In addition to teaching in Taiwan, Kayla will spend some time learning about the health care system there before returning to the U.S. where she has already been accepted to medical school at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

An Augsburg Education is Hands-On
For Kayla, Trevor, Promise, Kirubel—and so many other students—these educational experiences increase the depth of their knowledge, ignite a passion for critical inquiry, and prompt a lifetime of responsible leadership that shapes our changing world. Their accomplishments, our ongoing commitment to undergraduate research programs, and our success in securing NSF and other grants are just a few examples of how innovation in experiential education is woven into the story our College tells. I’m excited to see how this narrative will continue to develop with the addition of the Center for Science, Business, and Religion—a place that will embody our holistic approach to education across disciplines and that will accommodate a greater number and larger scope of year-round research projects for students like those mentioned above.

The Center for Science, Business, and Religion
We are sincerely grateful for all those who have invested their time and resources in the Center for Science, Business, and Religion capital campaign and look forward to sharing the vision for this building with others in our community who will reconnect with the College at Alumni Leadership Summits and additional events scheduled throughout the summer and this coming fall. (See for information about upcoming Summit dates.)

I invite you to watch for these and other opportunities to gather and to learn more about this incredible building project and about the key initiatives the Augsburg community intends to pursue as it develops an innovative, efficient, and cohesive structure that visibly represents the College’s values.

As always, thank you for your continued support and for positively influencing the lives of our students.

Faithfully yours,


The President’s Perspective is a periodic communication (approximately five times per year) from Augsburg College President Paul C. Pribbenow to select members of the Augsburg community. If you would like to be removed from this list or if you prefer to receive future issues via email instead of in print, please contact the Augsburg College Advancement Office at or 612-330-1171 and provide your desired email address.

President’s Perspective

Augsburg’s President Paul Pribbenow reaches out to key constituents throughout the year with a newsletter called The President’s Perspective.

In the February 2013 issue Paul shares that “This January, the Augsburg College Board of Regents made a unique—and historic—decision to commit a portion of its annual winter meeting to a half-day strategic planning summit in which the regents joined Augsburg faculty, staff, and student representatives in conversation about the future of the College. I believe our Board selected an ideal time to host the summit and to invite so many members of the Augsburg community to share their perspectives about what can and should be on the College’s horizon as we navigate a rapidly changing higher education environment.”  Read more of the President Perspective, February 2013.