Augsburg News

News Archives - 2004

Governor Proclaims Nov. 18th as Dr. Garry Hesser Day in Minnesota

Nov. 18, 2004

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has proclaimed Thursday, Nov. 18, as "Dr. Garry Hesser Day" in honor of Hesser's being named 2004 Minnesota Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Hesser is Augsburg's first recipient of the honor, which is given annually by the two Washington, D.C.-based organizations. Some 500 professors were nominated for the Professor of the Year award, according to officials from CASE, who announced the honor for Hesser today (Nov. 18).

A national and statewide recipient of numerous awards and honors – particularly in the area of service and experiential learning – Hesser joined Augsburg's Sociology Department in 1977. Since that time he has served as chair of the department, chair of the Social and Behavioral Science Division, and chair of the interdisciplinary Metro-Urban Studies Program. He was instrumental in the creation of Augsburg's Center for Service, Work and Learning, a marriage of the classroom and the city that has not only emerged as a hallmark of an Augsburg education, but also has served as a service-learning model across the nation.

In 2001 he was given the National Society for Experiential Education's "Pioneer in Experiential Education Award," and in 2002 he was named for "Distinguished Sociologist of Minnesota" by the Sociologists of Minnesota. In 1998, Hesser was given the Campus Compact's "Thomas Ehrlich Award" for national leadership and scholarship in advancing the field of service-learning as a teacher, researcher and community partner. "In my view, Garry Hesser represents the best Augsburg College has to offer in respect to innovative teaching, engaged scholarship, and service to the institution and the community," noted Dr. William Frame, president of the College, who wrote in support of Hesser's nomination. In his letter, Frame wrote, "While it is true, and indeed fortunate, that our institution benefits from Professor Hesser's national reputation, it is most certainly his local impact that merits your award. His contributions to the teaching of sociology here in Minnesota and to the fostering of civic responsibility among students and colleagues at Augsburg College are numerous. He has focused much of his scholarship on urban issues–multiracial communities, homelessness, and neighborhood renewal. He shares his expertise with student research partners and inspires their continuing dedication to community-based scholarship."

Christopher Kimball, Augsburg Provost and Dean, who also wrote in Hesser's behalf, said, "He makes students aware of the lenses through which they view the world and helps them to formulate questions to move beyond their current stance. His unique preparation as a theologian and sociologist has proven fertile soil in which to cultivate a teaching life. He does so with energy and care and thereby provides a compelling example of Christian vocation for his colleagues and students. Our Center for Teaching and Learning has recently selected him to be the first annual recipient of the Augsburg College award for "Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Learning' and we are very pleased that recognition has now extended beyond our campus borders."

Hesser, who holds degrees from Phillips University in Oklahoma, the Union Theological Seminary in New York, and the University of Notre Dame, makes his home in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. He is the author or editor of numerous publications and articles in the areas of experiential education, service-learning, and neighborhood revitalization. He and his wife Nancy Homans, a city planner in St. Paul, are the parents of five children.