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March 6, 2006

Augustana Stories


Dear Colleagues,


I hope that you enjoyed a pleasant break. With the snowfall this weekend, we may still have minds of winter, to recall the line from Wallace Stevens's "The Snow Man". But the spring term has arrived and soon weather to match the term will follow.


Higher Learning Commission Accreditation Visit


I spent some part of the break week thinking of the story we tell of Augustana, since we will find many opportunities in the coming ten weeks to explore and to tell about our college. Next week, we will have our first such opportunity when we are joined by a visiting team from the Higher Learning Commisssion. After three years of preparation, we can all be proud of the college's self study, Tradition and Transformation. The name was suggested by Norm Moline because we are, in part, narrating our efforts to build on Augustana's rich strengths and traditions as we plan for change. Here is how we sum up that story in the self study:

We end this self study by reflecting on change on our campus. As we have indicated throughout, the last ten years have seen remarkable growth at Augustana: we have undertaken major curricular reform and created an innovative new general education program. We have welcomed a new president, who has led our efforts to draft a visionary strategic plan. Under the provisions of that plan we have increased expectations for excellence in both pedagogy and scholarship, begun the early building phases of a new master plan, and initiated a comprehensive campaign of critical importance to our ambitions. We are beginning implementation of Senior Inquiry, the major programmatic goal of the strategic plan, and we are expanding an international study program that has long been a strength of the college. We are building on our successful efforts to assess student learning across the campus, and we are initiating program review for academic departments. How will we sustain both tradition and transformation? How will we maintain balance amidst these multiple conversations and commitments, especially in view of the further aspirations of the strategic plan?

The answer lies in our history. We will do as we have since our founding by continuing to cherish dialogue and debate as critical components of progress and change. Together, we will nurture the energy and imagination that have brought us to this dynamic moment. We will continue to plan and set priorities with care, ever keeping in mind the central expression of our identity, our mission:

Augustana College, rooted in the liberal arts and sciences and a Lutheran expression of the Christian faith, is committed to offering a challenging education that develops qualities of mind, spirit and body necessary for a rewarding life of leadership and service in a diverse and changing world.


We can all be grateful for the efforts of Mike Finnemann and Sharon Varallo to prepare for the visit. In the announcements section of this newsletter, you will find additional materials for reading. Thank you for the efforts you have made in preparation.


Stories Beyond Augustana


A large part of Augustana's story is told in the conversation we have with the world beyond, and this term we are engaging the outside world in multiple ways. As an example, our first focussed foreign term to West Africa is underway, and thirty Augustana students will soon be in Ghana to begin their study with four of our colleagues: Steve Hager, Mwenda Ntarangwi, Rowen Schussheim-Anderson, and John Tawiah-Boateng.


We will also hear from dozens of visitors this term. With visits from David Roediger and Ann Simonton among others, we will continue an exciting convocation series for our community. Benjamin Barber will also visit, and the Augustana Symphonic Band will perform, as will many others. A convocation--a calling together, literally--of any sort gives the opportunity for our community to gather together to retell and refine our story: I hope you will encourage students to attend some of the many events on campus this term.




Another way in which we express the story of the liberal arts college that we are is through the AGES program. This year, the General Education Committee has extended the General Education Working Group conversation in considering the role of composition in the Liberal Studies courses. A meeting for those faculty teaching in the LS program will be held at 4:00 today, March 6, in the Wilson Center. The conversation will begin with a summary of the committee's discussion thus far.


The committee is pleased with the progress of AGES in these first two years, and we will continue to assess the program over the next year, building on the work of GEWG in seeking to answer key questions about an Augustana education: how will we help Augustana students of the present and future to discover real passion for learning in their years with us? How will we help them to tell their stories, and to understand the connection of their lives to the lives around them? How will we help them to develop as leaders, grounded by a personal sense of values and principles and prepared to contribute as servants and leaders to their communities? These, of course, are among the essential questions of an Augustana liberal arts education.


I hope that classes begin well. Thank you for all that you are doing to help our students learn to tell their own stories, each of which will contribute to the story of Augustana College.




Jeff Abernathy



This Week   


Monday, March 6


1:00 - 2:30 p.m. Walk-in office hours in the dean's office

4:00 p.m. Wilson Center LS faculty discussion.

Tuesday, March 7

11:30 a.m. Ascension Chapel

Reflections - Amanda Lukasik '06


Thursday, March 9

10:30 a.m. Olin Auditorium

Convocation: Steven Mintz "The Myths of Modern Childhood"

Steven Mintz is the co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families, the John and Rebecca Moores Professor of History and Director of the American Cultures Program at the University of Houston. His books include Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life, A Prison of Expectations: The Family in Victorian Culture, and, most recently, Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood. Dr. Mintz's visit is sponsored by the Violet M. Jaeke Program in Family Life.


Friday, March 10

3:30 p.m. Wilson Center

Friday Conversations - Kathy Jakielski "Does DNA control how you say what you say?"


8:00 p.m. Centennial Hall

Just returned from their 2006 tour of Texas, the Choir performs a variety of pieces including several multicultural folk songs.


Saturday, March 11

1:30 p.m. Potter Theatre



4:00 p.m. Wallenberg Hall

STUDENT RECITAL - Jennifer O'Donnell, cello.


8:00 p.m. Centennial Hall

Returning from their 2006 Midwestern tour, the Symphonic Band performs works by Richard Strauss, Bob Margolis, Frank Ticheli, and others, including a special tribute to Alfred Reed.


Sunday, March 12

4:00 p.m. Wallenberg Hall

STUDENT RECITAL - Kristin Wolski, cello.


5:00 p.m. The Higher Learning Commission Visiting Team arrives.