Big days for the Augustana community
By Kent Barnds, executive vice president
Augustana College’s Board of Trustees arrived on campus today for its annual fall meeting. The board meets for formal meetings each October and May, and holds a mid-year retreat in January. The Augustana College Board of Trustees has 37 members, and it can have as many as 40. John Murabito ’80 is the current chair of the board.
The Board of Trustees has four primary responsibilities:
– Stewardship of the college’s mission
– Support and evaluation of the college’s leaders
– Financial stewardship and decision making
– Strategic direction of the college
Nine standing committees comprise the board and perform its work: Academic Affairs, Advancement, Audit, Campus Planning, Compensation, Enrollment and Student Engagement, Finance, Investment and Trusteeship.
Some of the work they’ll address during this week’s meeting will be customary, such as approving Augustana’s fall and winter term graduates, the 2018-19 budget and the endowment draw rate for the fiscal year. With the previously approved master’s degree in speech-language pathology beginning fall of 2020, the board also will approve the expansion of the Brodahl Building to prepare for the new program.
Agenda items of note for this meeting include a review of progress on the Augustana 2020 strategic plan, with discussion on a strategic addendum to extend the plan. The board also will review the impact of changes to the tax law on philanthropy and generosity, and will hear an update from the Task Force on Sexual Assault and Prevention on progress the college has made to improve its policies and practices surrounding Title IX.
A highlight of this fall’s meeting will be tonight’s formal gala, when the trustees will join other alumni and early supporters of AUGUSTANA NOW to celebrate the public launch of the college's $125,000,000 comprehensive fundraising campaign.
Tomorrow, all Augustana employees are invited to help launch AUGUSTANA NOW with a party in The Gerber Center beginning at 3:30 p.m. Learn more about the campaign and enjoy food, drinks and live music by Minus Six. Offices will close early so that we can celebrate together with our colleagues.
Last summer, geology faculty members Jenny Arkle, Dr. Kelsey Arkle and Dr. Mike Wolf made a J-term scouting trip to Bonaire. Kelsey sent the following notes.
Tropical field work is tough, but when the necessity arose, geology professors Mike Wolf, Jenny Arkle and I packed our fins and snorkels, purchased our reef-safe sunblock, and made sure we had plenty of fresh Write-in-the-Rain notebooks. From July 7-14, 2018, we explored Bonaire, a small island municipality of the Netherlands that lies just off the northern coast of Venezuela.
Our intention was to scout our two upcoming 100-level and 300-level J-term courses. The overarching goal of the courses is the same: to provide students with opportunities to learn and apply techniques used by field geologists. Both courses will allow students to ask and answer “big-picture” questions like What was the chain of events that led to the formation of this island? or How can we use the fossil record of corals to understand environmental changes that have taken place over the last ~100,000+ years?
Geological field scouting involves a fair amount of planning, a significant component of hunched-over-maps navigation, and a healthy dose of trial-and-error. Our goal was to search for rocks and fossils that we could use to teach the fundamentals of geology at the 100-level and the specifics of field techniques at the 300-level.
After locating prospective field localities, we then drove, hiked or swam to examine them up close. Among other interesting examples, we found many of the volcanic rocks that originally built the island; bus-sized boulders that are thought to have been transported by tsunami waves; and multi-story stairstep-like terraces, evidence of a tectonically tumultuous past.
Beyond the interesting and varied geology, Bonaire is renowned for maintaining significant expanses of protected coastal environments, making it a haven for healthy coral reefs. Next January, we plan to spend a significant amount of time exploring these diverse underwater environments. To brush up on our own skills, and to examine the accessibility of various sites, we spent several half-days SCUBA diving off the west side of the island.
During our inaugural J-term course in 2020, students will explore on land and under water, providing them with a rich and (literally) immersive opportunity to see a place from many angles. We will enjoy the opportunity to guide students as they participate in this transformative experience—and we will enjoy access to fine Dutch cheese, daily fresh croissants and locally made cactus liqueur.
New Face on Campus
Michelle Wolff, new assistant professor of religion, is eager to bring an outside perspective to Augustana. Born in South Africa, Michelle graduated from Westmont College and earned their M.T.S in theological studies from Duke Divinity School, and their Ph.D. in religion from Duke University.
Michelle attributes their interest in religion, gender and race to the changes their home country has gone through in recent decades. “It’s a really interesting place because people don’t realize it was at the forefront of legislation for sexual politics,” Michelle explained.
They want to use their experience with South African culture to educate on the importance of integrating all parts of one’s life, especially in a liberal arts setting such as Augustana.
“I was excited to learn it was a place where people of faith are free to express that, and people critical of faith are also free to express it,” they said. “Those are some of the things I really like about Augustana: that integrated whole self, and not, ‘what’s the one thing that makes you who you are?’...Students bring amazing stories; they’re able to tell important and interesting stories from where they came from. The diversity of students makes the material come alive.”
And as for their new home? “I have really enjoyed living in the Quad Cities for the few months I’ve been here. I feel like it’s this hidden gem I don’t want people to find out about.
“Even little things like the sky bridge or the lights on the Centennial Bridge give me joy. There’s so much here,” Michelle added. “There’s always something going on.”
And while Michelle has only been at Augustana a short time, they already dream of bringing their students to their homeland to learn from its rich culture and “study theology and geology, and the land and race and religion, and how is it all connected.
“South Africa is a really great place to think about those things historically.”
Until then, Michelle is teaching courses such as sexual and Christian ethics. They’re also already making plans for new courses that combine areas such as queer theology and art, and are “committed to making these things the center” of their coursework.
In this way, Michelle aims to promote inclusivity in their classroom, and to “bring together some of my passions with students who share those interests.”
From the Cabinet
Dr. Monica Smith, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion
The college’s transition to semesters has created the opportunity for faculty to review standards and expectations for the diversity and global awareness courses in our general education curriculum. Diversity and global awareness are among the most significant social issues today, and yet the criteria for these courses at Augustana has not changed for some time.
The charge for the Curriculum Transformation Task Force comes from the fourth strategic direction of Augustana 2020, specifically "to develop curricula and programming that reflect a more diverse student body." In doing so, we will include opportunities to dialogue about race, ethnicity, nationality, U.S. and global cultures, and various aspects of diversity, equity and social justice. I am working with a core group of faculty to ensure the diversity requirements are substantive, in that the course content and learning opportunities will challenge and expand students’ worldviews.
We recognize that the U.S. cultural landscape has changed, and students need better awareness of social dynamics, including privilege and power…
These discussions are not new, they are continuing. When Augustana adopted its college-wide learning outcomes a few years ago, the General Education Committee saw the need to more closely align existing diversity and global awareness courses to the Intercultural Competency learning outcome. We recognize that the U.S. cultural landscape has changed, and students need better awareness of social dynamics, including privilege and power, as well as the skills to engage across cultures to make a difference in society.
The task force, a much smaller group of faculty, will periodically report progress to the General Education Committee with an end goal of faculty adopting the criteria for diversity and global awareness as part of the core curriculum.
I extend my deep thanks to the 10 members of the Curriculum Transformation Task Force:
Alex Cohen, political science
Dawn Farmer, music
Imran Farooqi, business administration
Kiki Kosnick, French (WLLC)
Kimberly La Palm, Scandinavian studies (WLLC)
Chris Marmé, economics
John Pfautz, music
David Schwartz, multimedia journalism and mass communication
Robert Wengronowitz, sociology, anthropology and social welfare
Xiaowen Zhang, political science
In the Works
Director of Human Resources Laura Ford offers information and wisdom pertaining to being an employee of Augustana College.
A Day 2018 is in the rear view mirror, but in case you missed it, thanks go to our friends in communication and marketing for this video recap of the camaraderie during our breakfast and program at the PepsiCo Center.
A special thanks to all who attended and helped us celebrate the extraordinary people who make us better together!
Compensation Study Update
Leaders across campus have been working with the consultants from the Aon Higher Education group to provide input as we complete a compensation study for non-faculty positions on campus. This project benchmarked our current positions to the external market and also looked at internal equity.
While the final report is a few weeks off, all positions will be added to the wage/salary structure with the appropriate range. Once the final report is approved, the information will be shared on the new structure, and individual employees and their supervisors will meet to discuss.
Seen & Heard
“It reminds me of the Oregon Trail, and I loved that in 5th grade.”
—overheard by Lisa Huntsha, archivist and librarian in the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center
As part of Symposium Day on Sept. 27, Dr. Brian Leech (history), Dr. Forrest Stonedahl (computer science and mathematics) and Lisa Huntsha led students in playing the Swedish Immigration Trail Game. A class of software developers teamed up with history students and the Swenson Center to create the adventure game that honors the college’s Swedish immigrant founders at a time when immigration policies are at the forefront of national and international debates.
Acknowledge is published by the Office of Communication and Marketing at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. Contact Beth Roberts, editor. Jack Harris ’20, Augustana Writers Bureau, is the author and photographer for “New Face on Campus.” Other photos in this issue are by Kelsey Arkle, Ibrahim El Kamla ’20 of the Augustana Photo Bureau, and Leslie Zeglin.