Roger Boughton: Adenuga Atewologun, a special person

Published 5:47 pm Friday, March 24, 2023

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Special people in the community are those who come along once in a lifetime and in their soft-spoken  and genuine way make a real difference in the community and the place in which they work.   They are those “special” people who go about their business and influence and impact many people who they come across.  

Adenuga Atewologun is one of those special people who comes from another world, having grown up in the country of Nigeria. 

The story begins in a large city called Ibadan. His family consisted of 13 brothers and sisters. His father was a tailor.  Atewologun’s  family was poor but loving and close. He was fortunate in that he excelled in test taking and as a result was introduced to a boarding school in the city in which he lived.  

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He entered as a seventh-grader and broadened his skill level in both sports and science classes.  He was introduced to a whole new world. There was a monetary cost to attend and sometimes  there was no money to pay the expenses thus  he would miss several days, sometimes weeks of school.  Fortunately, family members came to the rescue and he graduated with a whole new set of skills, aspirations and dreams.

He entered the University in Nigeria and excelled in his love of Physics.  However, after a year  of studying nuclear engineering, he changed direction to agriculture engineering. Upon graduation he worked for the University for the next three years teaching and working with students.  

In an effort to obtain a graduate degree he moved to Champlain, Illinois where he entered the University of Illinois. Working hard he received both his Master’s degree and a Doctorate in Agriculture Structure Design.

This is where the story begins on what takes Atewologun to Austin, Minnesota and Riverland Community College. To obtain his on-the-job experience he takes a teaching job at DuPage College where he taught science courses for 10 years and then another 10 years rising to an Associate Dean and to Dean.  After  20 years at DuPage College he received a one year fellowship to Bellingham Technical College where he sharpened his leadership skills. At the end of the year, he was off to Prairie State College as a Vice President of Academic Affairs & Dean of the Faculty.

Atewologun and his wife Murielle during these years at DuPage College had a daughter and son that enriched their lives.  Upon leaving Prairie State College Atewologun took the position of President at Riverland Community College, where he has spent the last ten years of his life.

When out in the community I came across Peggy Keener who commented on Atewologun and his relationship to the community of Austin. She remarked that he is a real genuine person.  He is approachable, welcoming and interested in your story.  He is very low key and so friendly. You could see it in  his smile.

Upon approaching a faculty member, biology teacher Al Erdahl, who has been at the college when Atewologun first came 10 years ago and next month when Atewologun retires, states that Atewologun is well liked by staff and faculty.  I have never heard a complaint about Atewologun from the faculty or staff.  

When he first came to the college,  he got 30 of us together including faculty, town people and staff to come up with a vision of where we wanted the college to be about. That vision is what we have become. He is genuine and always promoting the college whether in St. Paul or Austin.  He freely uses the word gumption when describing what he likes in people.  I am sure Atewologun   had something to do with bringing the University of Minnesota’s Ag program to Mower County (FAARM). 

Upon retirement this May Atewologun and his wife Murielle plan to move to Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  He promises himself to not do anything for the first 6 months but dream about what he would like to do with the rest of his life.

If you were to visit Atewologun and Murielle  in Murfreesboro, Tennessee you might see him volunteering and working with young people of color to ensure that they become the best that they can become in fulfilling  their dreams.  Atewologun can also see himself teaching a course or two at the local university. 

How fortunate we were as a community of Austin, Albert Lea an Owatonna to have had Atewologun and his wife Murielle devoting their energy and life over the past 10 years to Riverland Community College in making the college a better place to obtain an education, life skills and  a fuller life. Atewologun, we will miss you.