Pres. Pribbenow updates campus at All Hands Meeting

Christa Kelly, Staff Writer

Augsburg faculty gathered last Thursday morning in the chapel for the spring All Hands Meeting. University President Paul Pribbenow used the time to update staff on various projects, plans and news surrounding the university.

Pribbenow began by reflecting on last month’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Action.  Restating that he wanted to “give thanks to all who worked so hard” to put the day together, he also acknowledged the frustration many students had with the perceived lack of action taking place to respond to their concerns. “Our students have shown us the path forward,” Pribbenow said. “It’s up to us to follow our students.”

The president also took time to address the recent attention the school has received since external news outlets began reporting on the honors controversy that began in October. “The scope of the scenario has not been accurately characterized,” Pribbenow said, referring to the articles released. The school has released a statement giving more detail about their position. Pribbenow clarified that he stands by the description of the events printed in “The Echo.” “The Honors Program review is still underway.” Pribbenow stated that a major part of the review would be considering “how our Honors Program meets the needs of this generation of students.”

On the subject of curriculum review, a design team is in place to create the new requirements. Among the changes will be the addition of multicultural skills–teaching.

Another coming big change will be Joanne Reeck, chief diversity officer, joining the president’s leadership team and shifting her role to a full-time position. “I’m so pleased she’s accepted this role,” said Pribbenow. Michael Grewe will take her place as director of campus activities and orientation.

Pribbenow went on to discuss the status of Augsburg’s 2018–2019 initiatives. The first of these was the new data analytics framework the university has worked to implement. Augsburg invested in the software Power BI to keep track of and present both “current and historical data.” He stated that it gave the school “flexibility to move forward and to be planning for the future.”

Another important initiative is the planning for Augsburg’s sesquicentennial celebration. September of 2019 will mark the beginning of Augsburg’s 150th year of service. The school is planning “events and activities to lift up our founding principles.” This will include a kickoff gala, historical tours and lectures, alumni travel experiences, a visit by the Norwegian royalty and an all-school reunion to cap the yearlong celebration.

A major project that Augsburg has undertaken is the “Commision 150.” Pribbenow defines this as the initiative to begin “developing Augsburg’s next strategic plan.” The largest pieces of this are the many construction endeavors that will be taken over the next year. One of these projects will be the renovation of Old Main. The architect who will lead this project is the same person who designed Hagfors. The goal is to bring the building “back to its historic splendor.” Further construction will occur on the east end to “create a compelling and attractive front door for Augsburg.” The plaza in front of the Christensen Center will also see some development with the addition of several ramps to make it more accessible.

One of the biggest changes will be the addition of a new art installation in front of Christensen. The piece will be commissioned to celebrate Augsburg’s 150th anniversary. Titled “Gordian Knot,” Janet Lofquist designed a large spiraling structure to arch in front of the doorway. Pribbenow mentioned, “It’s a metaphor for a bold or creative solution,” a fitting piece as the school starts to redefine itself.

This article was originally published in the Feb. 15, 2019 issue.