Augsburg News

News Archives - 2007

Karl Wolfe takes over the reins of the Rochester location

April 20, 2007

Karl Wolfe

When a prospective student poked his head into the office of Karl Wolfe (newly appointed Director of the Augsburg College Rochester program) and said he was interested in the school, Wolfe replied "Give me five minutes and I'll be right with you."

Just how many colleges afford a prospective student an impromptu meeting with the director upon walking in?

The Augsburg Rochester site sets on the edge of the city's downtown, mirroring the urban setting of its Minneapolis counterpart. Wolfe took over the reins of the program in February from past director and founder Rick Thoni. Although he is just a little over two months old in the position, he is already feeling right at home.

"I find it refreshing to be at Augsburg; especially when you see the diversity that is present." Wolfe says. "I appreciate Augsburg's unapologetic connection to the Christian faith, but that we also don’t need everyone to see things the way that we do."

Wolfe has a wealth of experience with faith-based learning. For 25 years he was in the pastoral ministry, including a stint as an Associate Pastor in Fairmont, Minnesota. He taught preaching at Fuller Seminary in California where he played a crucial hand in establishing the distance-degree program. "We had students logging in from Bangkok to study with us." After his time at Fuller Seminary he was a Director of one of the regional centers of Azusa Pacific University.

Wolfe is excited over the prospects of the growing Rochester program. "When I first came to Augsburg I noticed a real egalitarian approach to the work. There is a sense of trust all around." The challenges that face the Rochester program are what are proverbially referred to as good ones to have. "With nearly 375 students enrolled and steady, consistent growth every year, we are reaching capacity with our space."

The competition is always at the front door as well. How does Rochester stand out? "By consistently delivering a quality product and by keeping the student in mind," Wolfe says. The Rochester program has changed class start times to accommodate working students and the administration is continually focused on making the classroom environment as high-quality as the instruction (down to the air-quality, the lighting, the acoustics, and the chairs). They even feed the students dinner.

"Augsburg was one of the originals in Rochester. And we are continuously asking ourselves 'What is the next program that would fit this area,'" Wolfe adds. With the history of giving the community what they need and the goal of continuing to make it happen, the future of the Rochester site is looking stronger than ever.

Photo: Karl Wolfe