Jul 7, 2010

Augsburg Makes Recovery Part of the Mission

Augsburg College, located in the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota, made a commitment in 1997 that few other post-secondary institutions have been willing to make. Taking a cue from its founding as an ELCA liberal arts college, Augsburg expanded its educational mission to include recovery support for a handful of undergrads enrolled in what has become known as the StepUP® Program.

“StepUP is designed to help recovering students flourish in their college experience by furthering their growth in recovery, finding academic success, and thriving in a community of accountability and support,” explains Scott Washburn, the program’s assistant director. “It’s really all about living and growing and discovering life direction, meaning, and purpose.”

For 13 years, StepUP has provided a safe, supportive community for the well over 400 students entering the program. The success rate is unparalleled. To date, enrolled students have maintained an 87 percent abstinence rate and earned a collective 3.2 GPA in their classes. During the 2009-10 academic year, StepUP boasted an astonishing 96 percent abstinence rate while serving 90 students.

StepUP is one of only 15 college members of the Association of Recovery Schools, an organization advocating the “promotion, strengthening, and expansion of secondary and post-secondary programs designed for students and families committed to achieving success both in education and recovery.” Locally, the Hoos in Recovery Program at the University of Virginia and Loyola’s Alcohol and Drug Education and Support Services are also members.

But the key difference between most ARS members and the Augsburg StepUP Program is the availability of year-round chemical-free housing offered in a collegiate recovery community that includes mandatory counseling as well as attendance at two 12-step meetings per week. Students must also participate in a weekly community meeting where they hear from outside speakers, participate in the business of running the program, and celebrate even the smallest of victories.

“The community is a safe place where you feel supported,” says Washburn. “The students guard and protect the safety of the community by holding each other accountable.”

And they succeed. “I didn’t have any goals when I was using,” according to Emily A, a recent honors graduate interviewed by Augsburg Now. “But StepUP has taught me that I have amazing drive and potential.”

Currently serving about 80 students from every corner of the country, StepUP requires a separate application for admissions. Applicants must
  • Be accepted by the Augsburg Office of Undergraduate Admissions;

  • Be within the ages of 17 and 26;

  • Have six months of continuous sobriety by move-in;

  • Be committed to a 12-step abstinence-based recovery program;

  • Interview with a StepUP Program counselor;

  • Submit a recommendation from a recent treatment counselor, after-care counselor or therapist;

  • Agree to reside in StepUP on-campus housing and sign a program contract to abide by StepUP policies

Transfers are more than welcome.

For more information, visit the StepUP web pages or call the Augsburg Office of Undergraduate Admissions at 1-800-788-5678.

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