Members of the University of Alberta Senate and administration, Augustana faculty, staff and students, and community members from across the province heard the Dean’s report on Augustana’s activities in the past year and attended a reception for our guests.
At this Spring Soiree, Dean Berger told several stories based on themes of leadership, Aboriginal education, intercultural and outdoor education, and accountability. “I believe these stories serve to demonstrate first, that our values are in the right place,” he explained. “Augustana is a place where academic excellence and an exciting vision of a liberal arts education are supported, valued and celebrated. Second, we have extraordinary staff and students and an enviable level of camaraderie and school spirit here.”
Next fall, the University of Alberta will launch the Peter Lougheed Leadership College. Dean Berger joined the planning committee for the College and shared Augustana’s vision of what leadership means, including the purpose of a liberal arts and sciences education in developing active, engaged citizens and effective leaders – with a particular focus on leadership for rural and Aboriginal communities.
“I was particularly pleased when [the Right Honorable Kim Campbell, Principal of the Leadership College, and former Acting Provost Martin Ferguson-Pell, Vice Principal,] offered to place one of the Leadership College cohorts or forums—a group of twelve students—here at Augustana,” Dean Berger explained. “Participation in the program would become one option among many at Augustana, but a particularly valuable one, for students to think critically about leadership and to take on meaningful community-based projects.” Across the entire University of Alberta, one out of three applicants came from Augustana Campus. “As a result of the large number of qualified applicants, there will be two Lougheed cohorts or forums at Augustana, not one.”
Dean Berger went on to mention that three graduating Augustana students – who have not yet crossed the stage to receive their diplomas – are running in the May 5 provincial election.
“We are particularly proud at Augustana this year, that we not only have a record overall enrolment, but also a record Aboriginal student enrolment,” said Dean Berger. “In fact, our percentage of Aboriginal students is the second highest in the University, after the Faculty of Native Studies. And next month we will graduate a record number of Aboriginal students.”
The Dean detailed several initiatives from the past year, including the hiring of an Aboriginal scholar to help diversify course offerings at Augustana. He mentioned the shared COPLAC Native Studies courses, the development of a smudging policy for our new multi-faith prayer room, a new tipi that will grace campus in the fall, expanded relations with Maskwacis Cultural College, and the development of the Wahkohtowin Lodge.
Intercultural and outdoor education
“Over one-third of our graduating students each year have moved at some point in their studies beyond our own classrooms and labs to take some of their academic credits through international study or outdoor excursion courses,” said Dean Berger. He then outlined an initiative that combined both.
“Professor Morten Asfeldt of Augustana and Professor Takako Takano of Waseda University in Japan teamed up to co-teach a course entitled International Perspectives on Skill, Leadership, and Place. A combination of Canadian, Japanese, and Chinese students, headed out for a fourteen day snowshoe and tenting expedition in Lakeland Provincial Park east of Lac La Biche.” The results – as detailed in their journal and blog entries – were transformative for every student involved.
“At Augustana, our faculty have collectively made an important commitment,” the Dean began. “Students who earn a degree at Augustana will leave this place as sophisticated thinkers, communicators, and researchers.” Faculty followed this promise by defining the overall student learning outcomes and then measuring how students are performing.
When the faculty from Political Studies shared their evaluation that students were not adequately prepared to succeed in conducting sophisticated research, Dean Berger revealed that the department took the initiative to build more research skills development into coursework throughout the program. The faculty concluded that “program development is a project that is never really finished; rather, it is a constant work in progress. Continuous assessment of academic skill development plays a critical role in the process.”
“To that,” the Dean said solemnly, “all I can add is amen.”
Dean Berger managed to limit himself to six additional bragging points in addition to the inspiring stories he shared:
- Augustana faculty members published five books this year.
- Augustana swept the COPLAC annual awards.
- An Augustana faculty team has been asked to edit a prominent teaching and learning journal.
- Augustana faculty member Jérôme Melançon received the University of Alberta’s William Hardy Alexander Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Meanwhile Neil Haave was awarded one of the U of A’s prestigious McCalla Professorships.
- Augustana graduates have already been accepted to numerous graduate and professional programs. Stacey Haugen is headed to the Balsillie School of International Affairs to do a Master’s in Global Governance. She has been awarded a full entrance scholarship, a prestigious Sir James Lougheed Scholarship and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council fellowship.
- A record 30 research assistants – from Augustana, from other Canadian institutions and from around the world – will work at Augustana this summer.
You are welcome to download our 2015 Report to the Community, which includes many of these stories and several more from our campus this year. Please enjoy this gallery of images from our 2015 Spring Soiree.