A Note from President Oliver: Following Recent News, a Reminder of Augustana's Core Values

A note from President Rob Oliver.

January 30, 2017

Dear members of the Augustana University community,

As you all know, the administration enacted executive orders last Friday related to our country’s immigration policies. This issue, like most issues confronting our world today, is complex, and we are still learning the extent to which the orders will impact individuals both here and around the world.

At this time I’d like to take this opportunity to remind each of you what we all should expect from Augustana:

It is appropriate to recall that Augustana was founded by immigrants more than 156 years ago and, consistent with that heritage, we have always sought to maintain a global awareness as we prepare students for meaningful and impactful lives of service. Augustana relies on five Core Values that serve as our roadmap to which we now — and should always — refer when charting our course for the future. I’d like to highlight these values here:

  • Christian Faith — as a university of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we are committed to welcome all faiths and seek to love our neighbors as ourselves, including those who may have different perspectives, traditions and beliefs.
  • Liberal Arts — by providing an education of enduring worth, we are committed to fostering a broad understanding of humans and their interactions; to learn from literature, art, science, and history in order to pursue deeper understandings of complex issues; and to employ our curiosity to seek truth.
  • Excellence — by committing to high standards and integrity, we are committed to challenging the intellect, asking difficult questions, and further questioning the answers — endeavoring to arrive at the best possible understanding of issues we encounter.
  • Community — by caring for one another and our environments, we are committed to respect human differences and empower one another. We recognize that all people are part of God’s creation, deserving our love and care.
  • Service — we are committed to reaching out to others and promoting justice, employing our hearts and hands to serve others who are in peril or are in need.

We are proud to celebrate that this fall Augustana University became home to 156 international students from 38 countries around the world, providing us with different viewpoints and enriching our capacity to comprehend the complexity of our world. We are united in our goal to learn together with respect for our differing experiences and beliefs.

While the administration’s travel restraints in the present form do not appear to impact any of our current students, it could impact future students, faculty and staff, and of course, members of our broader community. This is something we’ll be paying close attention to in the days and weeks ahead, seeking to become part of the public conversation when warranted.

In closing, I want to remind our students — especially our Muslim students who may be feeling uncertain — as well as our alumni and campus community members: Augustana has been and will always be a place that understands and values a global perspective. Here, we believe that the more we know about the world, the better equipped we will be to make the world a better place. We seek to assure all members of this community, especially those who may feel threatened or marginalized, that you are welcomed and supported here.

Finally, I’d like to ask each of you to keep an open mind in the days ahead and maintain your trust in our democracy. I also ask each of us to do our part in caring for others. To that end, I share these words from the Prayer of St. Francis:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

“O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.”

As God has generously bestowed his love and grace upon us, let us be his instruments to extend love and kindness to each other and to members of the greater Sioux Falls community and beyond.

Yours, for Augustana,

Rob Oliver