The Lutheran tradition in higher education is profoundly respectful of difference, disagreement and debate. It sees in them the true path to fulfilling one's central obligation in life: serving others. Augustana has historically fostered intellectual diversity for its own sake and demographic diversity both for the intellectual diversity that might accompany it and for the service it renders to society. The commitment to diversity, demographic and intellectual, is widely manifested in college statements and documents, as well as in its contemporary policy debates and plans. A few examples are:
The Five Faith Commitments promises that "Augustana welcomes persons of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races, colors, creeds, ethnic backgrounds, and individuals with disability, to participate fully in all aspects of college life. As such, recognizing that we learn from one another, Augustana encourages collegial dialogue among people of different faiths and cultures, even in moments of disagreement (2).
Our new AGES general education program makes awareness and understanding of diversity a key element to be taught and assessed. It expects that students will “Demonstrate awareness that one's personal or cultural viewpoint is one among many, and does not constitute selfevident truth, and that wisdom is more likely to emerge from sympathetic understanding than from dogma.”
In 2004 the President's Cabinet to adopt in 2004 an “Affirmation of Welcome” as part of the Reconciling in Christ movement. The Affirmation holds: [t]hat gay and lesbian people share with all others the worth that comes from being unique individuals created by God [and t]hat gay and lesbian people are encouraged to participate and become leaders in the sacramental and general life of Augustana College Campus Ministries (1).
Other concrete manifestations of a commitment to diversity are the 2004 decision to extend employment benefits to the non-married partners of our employees, the hiring of an Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs in 2002, the addition an African-American pastor to Campus Ministries, definition of specific steps to increase diversity in its hiring practices, and expanded recruiting efforts in high schools with diverse student bodies and made increasing diversity a high priority in its strategic plan.