A Message From Academic Affairs
What is our story? The question gave focus to our conversations at last week's Faculty Retreat, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to take two days to discuss the Augustana Story.
Our assessment survey confirms faculty enthusiasm for the conversation on our story, and I welcome your thoughts about how we might proceed.
I have encouraged department chairs to consider framing statements on departmental distinction in such a way that they tell a story: who are the key faculty, students, alumni that shape the story of each department?
While no individual embodies the Augustana story, we might consider Fritz Fryxell as one who expresses some key aspects about who we are.
The first chair of geology at Augustana, Fryxell embraced the hyphen, as our colleague Roald Tweet used to describe it, that place where a church related college finds its identity. Not despite but because of our Lutheran roots, Augustana early on championed the sciences and specifically the story of evolution as it is expressed through geology.
Fryxell's story has been told by Ann Boaden, Dick Anderson and other colleagues over the years. Fryxell was an Augie graduate in English and Biology who served as the first naturalist at Grand Tetons National Park and as an Augustana faculty member throughout his years of service to his discipline and to the country.
He recalled the Tetons in the elegant prose that he wrote throughout his life:
Over these seemingly changeless mountains, in endless succession, move the ephemeral colors of dawn and sunset and of noon and night, the shadows and sunlight, the garlands of clouds with which storms adorn the peaks, the misty rain-curtains of afternoon showers.
Fryxell's rich prose style, his love of art, and his passion for learning--his own and his students--suggest the value he personally found in a liberal arts education. If a key part of our story is our aspiration to foster thoughtful and reflective citizens, Fryxell offers one model.
Let's continue to explore Augustana stories in the days ahead. The CVR's series on the Values of Augustana is one place we will do so. This newsletter might be another, and we would welcome your stories, or those you would like to tell.
I with you well in these first days of the year.