Recent News from Campuses
“The Price of Our Clothes” is designed as a material meditation on the garment factory industry.
Renowned biblical scholar Dr. Amy-Jill Levine will present “Pearls and Prodigals: Jesus’ Parables in His Context and Ours.”
In an age where information is constantly flowing and easier than ever to access, it is more critical than ever to have the ability to navigate and evaluate sources.
Enter Rachel Wightman, associate director of instruction and outreach for Concordia University’s library.… Read More
The post CSP Library Staff Member Empowers Students in the Information Age appeared first on Concordia St. Paul.
Inventory management can be a daunting chore and the bane of small business owners. With customers burying or misplacing products, workers unnecessarily pulling from back stock, and the persistent battle of keeping shelves full, inventory becomes a time-consuming task that leaves “enjoyable” far from reach. Thanks to the invention of St. Olaf College student Anthony Valiulis ’19, it’s about to get easier for business owners.
Valiulis, a psychology and economics major, is filling the need for merchandise display innovations in the retail industry with his new company DaVinci Industries.
Founded in October 2016, DaVinci Industries aims to provide retail stores with dynamic merchandise display systems. The company’s first product, Acutrack, is a replacement for scan hooks that provides a substantial R.O.I., labor reduction, and inventory tracking system.
Every time an item is pulled from an Acutrack hook, the remaining merchandise is pulled forward, automatically facing the storefront. The second generation of this product will provide an electronic feature that allows retailers to monitor each Acutrack unit through radio frequency identification communications. With this feature, Acutrack will be the first and only display product on the market to provide retailers with a storefront electronic inventory solution.
Valiulis won the Ole Cup, an annual student entrepreneurial competition at St. Olaf, last spring and has been tirelessly building his company ever since. Now DaVinci is one of 25 finalists in the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge, a three-day competition hosted by Best Buy founder Richard Schulze where one team will win $75,000.
“To be an entrepreneur, you don’t need to be the smartest person around. You just need to be the person with the most ambition and be able to out work anyone else.”
Valiulis and his team will pitch Acutrack to three judges in Minneapolis April 12–14.
“The Ole Cup has really taken my company to the next level because now I know there are people out there who believe in this product,” says Valiulis. “The recognition I now get from people in Northfield and across Minnesota is what I think will really make our product successful.”
On top of his entrepreneurial work, Valiulis is involved in the St. Olaf Mock Trial and Model UN teams, works with the Volunteer Network, and is a marketing intern for a chiropractor agency in Northfield.
In many ways, his work on DaVinci Industries is in his blood — he comes from a family of entrepreneurs dating back to his great grandfather.
“My dad was an entrepreneur, my grandpa was an entrepreneur, even my great grandpa was an entrepreneur,” Valiulis says.Every time an item is pulled from an Acutrack hook, the remaining merchandise is pulled forward, automatically facing the storefront.
Valiulis first learned about St. Olaf — and the Ole Cup — at a “Colleges That Change Lives” fair in Chicago. “Colleges That Change Lives,” an organization based on a book by former New York Times education editor and journalist Lauren Pope, is dedicated to “building the knowledge, character, and values of young people by introducing them to a personalized and transformative collegiate experience.” St. Olaf is one of the original colleges featured in Pope’s book.
“What really got me interested in St. Olaf was how the book describes how the education here helps students become well-rounded individuals, and because I saw the amazing resources the Piper Center for Vocation and Career has to offer,” Valiulis says. “I also saw how St. Olaf offers a chance for entrepreneurial people to pitch their ideas to the Ole Cup. I love pitching ideas, so I thought that some day if I went to St. Olaf I would do that.”
Working around-the-clock to build his business, Valiulis has learned the importance of self-discipline and hard work.
“To be an entrepreneur, you don’t need to be the smartest person around,” Valiulis says. “You just need to be the person with the most ambition and be able to out work anyone else — and, most importantly, you need to be able to get others to believe in your idea.”
The Carleton alumni relations office, in partnership with SNAP (Students And Alumni Programming), helped the Carleton class of 2020 celebrate declaring their major.
From St. Olaf College’s founding by Norwegian immigrants to today’s “Dreamers,” the college’s commitment to immigrants from all nations is reinforced by its mission. In the most recent issue of St. Olaf Magazine, alumni and students share their personal immigration stories in the hope that Oles will continue to work alongside neighbors, friends, and strangers to welcome all voices and experiences to America. This is one story from that series.
Katie McCoy first learned of the challenges of immigration law while interning with Justice for Our Neighbors, a nonprofit immigrant advocacy organization in Iowa, during the summer between her second and third years at St. Olaf.
“I learned how complex the laws are, and the innumerable ways they fail people who so desperately need relief or need access to staying in the United States,” she says. “Once I saw how underserved immigrant populations are and how great the need was, I couldn’t walk away.”
Additional experiences at St. Olaf — volunteering on behalf of immigrants and refugees while studying abroad in Argentina, completing a political science senior capstone project on citizenship and immigration — helped turn McCoy’s eye toward immigration policy as a way to affect change. But after a year with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service in Washington, D.C., as an advocacy fellow working within federal agencies, she was disillusioned. “A general fear of refugees was the overwhelming climate, and I couldn’t see the impact of any of the work I was doing,” she says.
“I learned how complex the laws are, and the innumerable ways they fail people who so desperately need relief or need access to staying in the United States. Once I saw how underserved immigrant populations are and how great the need was, I couldn’t walk away.”
McCoy shifted her focus once again to immigration law, and today is a paralegal with the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR), a nonprofit that provides legal services to immigrants and asylum seekers detained by the U.S. government. She assists attorneys who work for ProBAR’s Children’s Project, which serves unaccompanied children who are detained in the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas.
“These children travel from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico, often fleeing violence or domestic abuse,” McCoy says. “They come without a parent or guardian, or they’ve been separated during the journey.”
McCoy and her coworkers shepherd the children through the legal system, helping them understand and access their rights and representing them in court cases determining whether or not they can stay in the United States.
“Each of these cases takes a very long time, and being able to accompany children through the process — letting them know that someone is listening to their needs and fighting for them to get what they want in life — has been really impactful for me,” McCoy says. “I can see the work that needs to be done, one person at a time.”
Concordia University, St. Paul is hosting the 7th Biennial International Conference on Hmong Studies April 6-7.The purpose of this conference is to provide opportunities for emerging and established Hmong and non-Hmong scholars to share their research on Hmong/Miao related topics, to inspire and motivate students to engage in scholarly research, and to recognize distinguished scholars for their work in the field of Hmong/Miao Studies.… Read More
The post CSP Hosts 7th Biennial International Conference April 6-7 appeared first on Concordia St. Paul.
Moody’s Investor Service today revised Augsburg University’s outlook to stable from negative and affirmed the University’s Baa3 credit rating.
Moody’s cited Augsburg’s improved liquidity, effective fiscal oversight, successful fundraising, diverse program offerings, and urban Twin Cities location as strengths supporting its credit opinion. The report also noted that Augsburg continues to operate in a highly competitive student market and has moderately high debt relative to cash and investments.
“This favorable outcome is a great accomplishment, and one we’ve worked hard to achieve,” said Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow. “It’s a reflection of Augsburg’s competitive strengths — including our distinct market identity and diverse enrollment — as well as our intentional, sustained efforts driving dramatic improvements in liquidity.”
The post Moody’s revises Augsburg University’s outlook to stable and affirms Baa3 credit rating appeared first on News and Media.
Last week, Gustavus Adolphus College President Rebecca Bergman joined 30 Gustavus students on a trip to St. Paul for a day of advocacy and networking. Representing the College, the group gathered at the Capitol to meet with legislators to lobby in support of the Minnesota State Grant. A statewide program available to low- and middle-income families, the State Grant awards financial assistance to students regardless of their choice of higher education institutions.
Across the state, over 81,000 students utilize the State Grant program to ease the cost of attending college. At Gustavus, over 30 percent of students benefit directly from the State Grant. The program also allows the College’s financial aid awards to be available for more students.
Students at Gustavus and other Minnesota private colleges and universities join the Minnesota Private College Council at the Capitol each year to ensure that the Minnesota legislature continues to fund the State Grant program and to thank legislators for supporting students.
In order to prepare for the Day at the Capitol, students in political science professor Kate Knutson’s Public Policy course spent several weeks researching effective advocacy techniques and organizing a training for students not in the course.
“Students who come to Gustavus Day at the Capitol learn to advocate for funding for higher education, but the same skills and process can be applied to any issue they care about,” Knutson said. “I hope this experience will give students confidence to advocate for the issues that matter to them.”
Following meetings with state legislators, the group of Gustavus students attended a networking event at the State Capitol, where a group of Gustavus alumni from around St. Paul and the government sector had convened for the afternoon.
“While talking with the alums, I couldn’t help but put myself in their shoes, envisioning my life 5 years and 10 years down the road. It is amazing to see the different routes that you can take after you graduate even if I don’t know exactly what my path is right now,” senior Hubert Ngabirano said. “They always say Gusties are Gusties, but that was real at that event.”
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
Augsburg University is sharing this background about the immigration case involving Associate Professor Mzenga Wanyama to keep our campus and the public informed.
The most recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement check-in appointment for Dr. Wanyama and his wife, Mary, was Thursday afternoon, April 5. The outcome of the meeting was that ICE has allowed the Wanyamas 90 days to depart the United States.
Augsburg University statements
Augsburg issued a statement from Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow following the Wanaymas’ April 5 ICE meeting, as well as statements before and following the previous ICE meeting, on March 9. These statements are posted below:
Augsburg University Faculty Senate statement
The Faculty Senate of Augsburg University wishes to express our unanimous and unconditional support for our friend and colleague, Professor Mzenga Wanyama. We urge all those who care about Professor Wanyama to consider signing the petition on his behalf at https://www.change.org/p/augsburg-university-support-augsburg-professor-mzenga-wanyama.
A website, www.mzenga.com, has been created by friends and supporters of Mzenga and Mary Wanyama. The site includes a statement from the Wanyamas, information about the next Immigration and Customs Enforcement meeting, and information about getting involved and providing support.
Work authorization and sponsorship
Augsburg University complies with federal law that requires employers to verify that employees are eligible to work in the United States. Dr. Wanyama has authorization to work in the United States, issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Sponsorship for permanent resident status is not an option at this time due to a restriction related to a J-1 two-year home residency requirement. The two-year home residency requirement means that those who come to the U.S. in J-1 status cannot become permanent residents in the U.S., change status, or get work or family-based visa status until they return to their country of last permanent residence for at least two years cumulatively. A request to waive the two-year home residency requirement was filed several years ago, but the waiver was denied. Augsburg is working with legal counsel to pursue all options available to us under the current scenario.