All Hands Meeting Outlines Achievements, Plans for Growth

Miles Christopher, staff writer

Augsburg held one of its annual All Hands Meeting last Thursday to provide the community with updates on the current budget, student enrollment and other events or occurrences that are deemed to be important. The presentation, given by university president Paul Pribbenow, started on a high note by announcing that Augsburg received the inaugural Richard Guarasci Award for Institutional Transformation. The award, named after the former president of one of Augsburg’s sister institutions, Wagner College, was given to Augsburg in recognition of “its commitment to serving as an anchor institution in the Twin Cities, mobilizing institutional resources to benefit local neighborhoods and helping to drive inclusive economic growth in the region,” as well as because of Augsburg’s commitment to interfaith leadership, equity and racial justice and economic sustainability through its new Augsburg 150 strategic plan.

From there, Pribbenow transitioned to current enrollment and budget numbers. In terms of enrollment, Augsburg was at 101% of its overall goal for the Spring 2020 term, which he said the institution was “very happy” about. Furthermore, for next year’s enrollment estimates, he noted that first-year deposits were about one and a half times those from last year, although Pribbenow noted that the deposits shouldn’t be taken as indicators of total enrollment. As for the budget, Augsburg boasted a projected half of a million dollars in surplus out of the overall 120 million dollars in the budget, which was described as a “narrow, fragile line,” in terms of overall cushioning. Pribbenow emphasized the need for the institution to keep costs as close to the university’s projections as possible to keep everything running smoothly.

There was also a short explanation as to the effects of Augsburg’s credit downgrade as well as the negative outlook that it was given, which summed the situation up to be not immediately problematic, as Augsburg was not planning on taking out any loans beyond the 61 million already taken, most of which was borrowed to build the Hagfors Center. The only minor issue that could arise is that BMO Harris, which currently holds 22% of Augsburg’s debt, could choose to reevaluate their rates given the change. Still, Pribbenow noted that the bank had had good relations with Augsburg in the past, so such an action was unlikely.

Finally, the presentation shifted from the present to the future, starting with an outline on Augsburg 150, the university’s new strategic plan and the ways that its effects are being realized. Pribbenow lauded the Guarasci Award as “recognition of a key plank in that strategic plan,” and commended those working in sustainability, interfaith leadership, and equity and inclusion for their work in helping to move Augsburg forward with a renewed focus towards these key areas. He also discussed the university’s continuing reflection on its own culture and the purposeful shift towards thinking about a culture of “learning and results.”  Taking a moment to talk about some of the new languages in Augsburg’s faculty and staff mission statement, in which both are described as being “student-centered.” Pribbenow focused primarily on other events and upcoming dates of importance, before bringing the meeting to a close with a request for all attending to stay active in the Augsburg community.