Large waves of Swedish immigration during the 1870s led to one of the most important decisions in Augustana's history: to move the college from Paxton to a location closer to these new immigrants. The Augustana Synod selected Rock Island, Illinois. While much of the decade was devoted to raising money to purchase land in Rock Island and for the construction of buildings on the new campus, other aspects of college life were not forgotten. The first of Augustana's many musical organizations, a Silver Cornet Band, was founded, followed by an orchestra, and the Phrenokosmian Society began to publish a weekly paper.

The Norwegians formally leave the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod and become part of the Norwegian-Danish Augustana Synod. This division comes at the recommendation of the members due to the rapid development and increase in membership of the Synod. This split means that Augustana loses its Norwegian professor, as the Norwegians proceed to establish their own college, which will become Augustana College in South Dakota.
The Synod, committed to moving from Paxton, empowers Augustana to accept offers for land donations from five counties in Illinois: Knox, Henry, Rock Island, Bureau, and Cook. English professor Henry Reck is the chairman of the search committee. Paxton had failed to provide the school with promised support and was too far from emerging Swedish immigrant centers.
January 1873
A committee is appointed to raise $5,000 to purchase a 16 acre plot of land half way between Rock Island and Moline from Henry P. Hull; a total of $10,000 is needed. The site wins praise for its beauty and fertility, being on both the Mississippi River and the Rock Island Railroad, and being on the trolley line connecting the town centers of Rock Island and Moline. The leaders of Augustana see moving to Rock Island as an opportunity for the college to do more to integrate itself into American life.
The Augustana Synod asks each member of an Augustana congregation for 25 cents per year to support Augustana College and Theological Seminary, formally establishing the Synod's monetary support of Augustana. Ten cents from each fee is dedicated to salaries, 15 cents for student aide.
view of the Rock Island Augustana campus
October 14, 1875
The new campus and the first college building in Rock Island are dedicated, several weeks after the first term of school in Rock Island begins on September 22. Approximately 2,500 people attend the dedication. President Hasselquist declares this the largest step ever taken in the history of the school and a remarkable day for all people of Swedish descent in America.
Fall 1876
Augustana publishes its first catalog in English, for the 1876-1877 academic year. Previous catalogs, which began in 1871, had been published in Swedish only. The catalog includes a list of faculty and instructors; a register of students in the Seminary, College, and Prepatory (high school) departments; a historical sketch of Augustana; general information about the college; and the calendar for the year.
first graduating class of Augustana College
May 1877
The first Augustana College class graduates. The six men of the class of 1877 earn Bachelor of Arts degrees. The senior class year was added to the curriculum in the fall of 1876, allowing students to complete undergraduate work at Augustana. Previous degrees granted by Augustana came exclusively from the Theological Seminary. All members of the class of 1877 go on to successful careers, many as ministers.
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