Thank You, Margaret France

As an incoming transfer student, one of the first faculty members of Augustana that I got to meet was Dr. Margaret France. My first time visiting here was overwhelming, as most college visits are when accompanied by an eager and emotional parent. But it was while Dr. France and guidance counselor Bonnie Jessee spoke to me and a room full of other potential transfers, that I was sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I would be welcome here.

Dr. France has been an Augustana faculty member since 2012 working in the English department, additionally teaching FYI courses, transfer transition courses, and WGS courses. Since 2015 she has been the director of transfer and transitional advising in CORE. This term is her final term as Augie faculty before she sets off on her next adventure in California, where we wish her the very best. She allowed me the pleasure of interviewing her so that I, and all of you, have something to look back on the next time we're in need of some guidance.


Is there any advice you find yourself telling students most often?

Yes. Your major doesn't matter. What matters is picking a program that makes you as curious as possible about the world and that pushes you to improve your ability to ask interesting questions. Whether that's chemistry or religion, it really doesn't matter. People who have spent four years doing shit they don't want to do because they think they have to, they're already broken.


What's a lesson you learned from being a college student?

I wasn't really good at using my resources. I wasn't involved in any student organizations, I completely avoided my professors if I could, I wasn't looking for mentors. I think my college experiences taught me what not to do, and I think that made me more useful here.


What's your favorite place to be on campus?

I love Evald Great Hall. That's where I've had a few Gender and Sexuality Alliance meetings and GSA is an organization that's been really close to my heart for the last few years. I also love the stained glass in the chapel and the third floor of Denkmann where they have the bathrooms with the movie star lighting and the weird Swedish stuff.


What helps you stay positive?

Well, I really believe in my students. So when there's something that I don't want to do, I think about what it's for. I also think about how Augustana is a place where people smile, say hi and good morning, make eye contact... If I can be as welcoming as some of the people were to me when I first came here, it feels really gratifying to me—being a voice of welcome. And when I get down on things, I always remember what I was like in college, and I know that when a student is disconnected that it's not about me, that there's a lot more going on in that student's life, and so I always believe the best.

It really helps that Augustana is about building a community of friends who are all working toward developing their talents to make the world a better place.


What are you being for Halloween this year?

There's a Kate Bush video for a song called Running Up That Hill, and the video is this crazy modern dance thing where she's wearing a leotard and these big giant pants and teased red hair and really bad 80's eye makeup. So I'm gonna do moves from the video with the outfit and be Kate Bush.


What's your favorite Halloween costume you've dressed up as?

Oh man. I've been Lady Gaga, Teen Wolf with a real mullet... but my favorite non-couples costume is when I was Richard Simmons. My hair was big and curly and I pasted armpit hair on and wore little shorts. I got a bunch of my friends to wear those shiny jogging suits that old ladies wear on cruises, and we went from party to party doing coordinated exercise dances. That was the only one that ever won an award.

My favorite couples costume is when my wife and I were Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan in 2014. It was really great.


What are some achievements during your time here that you're proud of?

Every time a student graduates that I've worked with, I'm like, that was the best.

The things I've done with Gender and Sexuality Alliance, just the fact that they're a club again, I love. I created a pamphlet about making it easier for students who are transitioning or changing their name for any reason... You don't have to have people call you by the wrong name anymore, I'm pretty proud of that.

And now, transfer students and those coming in after the first term don't arrive individually. I made it really clear that nobody should come to Augustana by themselves. Even if there are only 3 or 4 people starting a term at one time, they should at least have a chance to meet each other.


Is there anything else you want us to know?

I want every student that I work with to feel like they have a home base here, and that's what makes it really hard for me to leave. I think I was really good at establishing that rapport and making people feel comfortable and now that home they thought they had is gone. But, there are other people like me here.

I'm going to miss this part of my life a lot.


We'll miss you too. Thank you, Margaret France.