Augsburg News

News Archives - 2000

Program at Augsburg College helps student "StepUP" to a new life

Oct. 16, 2000

These college students are not only making a commitment to education, they are also making a commitment to sobriety, and Augsburg College is giving them that extra boost that they may need through the StepUP Program. The StepUP Program is for students who are chemically dependent and are trying to turn their lives around. In order to qualify for the StepUP Program, students must be in recovery and sober for six months. The StepUP Program offers these students a chance to not only achieve academic success, but success in their commitment to sobriety.

This is a unique program that, as far as program director Don Warren knows, is not offered at any other college campus throughout the United States. Warren came up with this idea four years ago while working as director of the Academic Enrichment Program at Augsburg. Students he dealt with, some of which were graduates of the Hazelden Center for Youth and Families, told Warren that it is very hard to live on a college campus and be successful in a recovery program. Their only support came from either an AA group or their sponsor.

Warren then designed a program to help students not only succeed in academics, but also in achieving sobriety. During its first year, the program served 23 students. Today, in its fourth year, there are 35 students enrolled in the program. Warren said he was told not to be surprised if there was an 85 percent relapse rate the first year. In his program, the first year, there was a relapse rate of 12 percent, last year it was 8 percent.

Students in this program are not only from Minnesota, but come from 21 different states and Canada, Mexico, Switzerland and Lebanon.

"We work hard to give these students serenity in a college living area, and provide them with social experiences," Warren said. "This is not a prevention or treatment program, but a recovery program, which encourages and supports the students to live more independently."

Many times a student's success rate is reflected in grades. Warren said no students in the program are on academic probation and that the average grade point of the students is 3.1.

Students who sign up for the program must sign a contract, committing themselves to recovery and academic progress. Services offered by the program include:

Assistance with admissions, applying for financial aid and course selection.

Separate, chemical-free housing.

One-on-one and group tutoring by the staff.

Academic advising.

Advocacy with faculty and staff.

Extracurricular activities.

The United States Department of Education has invited Warren and assistant director Dave Hadden to present their program at its 14th Annual National Meeting on Alcohol, Other Drug and Violence Prevention in Higher Education, which will be held Oct. 14-17 in Pittsburgh, Penn. Warren said this is quite an honor and it will give them a chance to tell others in the academic world about this program.

For more information on Augsburg's StepUP program, visit their Web site at