Steven C. Bahls is the eighth president of Augustana College. He joined the college in the summer of 2003, and was installed as president in October of that year. Among the major developments on campus since then are:
- Faculty, staff and students developed and implemented Authentically Augustana: A Strategic Plan for a Premier Liberal Arts College, charting a bold course for the next chapter in Augustana’s long history of academic excellence, begun in 1860.
- The adoption of Augie Choice, a unique capstone experience in which all students, during their junior or senior year, receive a grant of up to $2,000 from the college to work with faculty mentors on creative and research projects, pursue international study or engage in service learning projects.
- A conversation led by Campus Ministries resulted in the Five Faith Commitments of Augustana College, an expression of what it means to be a church-related college in the 21st century.
- Duane R. Swanson Commons, a residential facility which includes both apartment-style and more traditional housing options, opened in 2006. The Dorothy Parkander Residence Center, opened in 2007, provides junior students with new options for townhouse style living. In 2008, the college completed its renovation of Evald Hall as the new home of the accounting, business, economics, education and psychology departments.
- A $13 million dollar renovation of Augustana’s landmark Old Main building is now underway, beginning with a comprehensive restoration of its signature dome.
- For the first time in Augustana’s history, 40% of students now have a meaningful international experience by the time of their graduation.
- New programs have been added in Africana studies, creative writing, engineering physics, graphic design, international business, journalism/new media and neuroscience; faculty leaders have launched the Augustana Center for Polar Studies and the Augustana Center for the Study of Pluralism and the Civil Sphere, and women’s lacrosse was added as the college’s 22nd varsity sport.
- Augustana’s enrollment has grown by almost 10 percent, while the faculty has grown by more than 13 percent.
- The college has raised more than $120 million for the Authentically Augustana comprehensive campaign, enabling the college to provide additional funds for scholarships, programming and enhancing buildings.
A recognized scholar in the area of business law and agricultural law, President Bahls has written hundreds of articles in both scholarly publications and magazines such as Entrepreneur, Independent Banker, and Nation's Business. President Bahls’ writings about legal issues have been cited by 150 scholarly law journals, including the Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Columbia Law Reviews, as well as being cited in reported court opinions in seven states. Since coming to Augustana, he has published in Intersections, the journal of Lutheran higher education, as well as The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education. He has presented at national gatherings sponsored by the Higher Learning Commission, the Council of Independent Colleges, the Lutheran Educational Conference of North America, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
President Bahls is a frequent speaker on campus, and he holds open office hours, often in Brew by the Slough, the coffee house in Augustana’s Thomas Tredway Library. (See schedule.) Most evenings and weekends, you’ll find him at Augustana’s music, cultural and sports events.
Prior to joining Augustana College, he was dean at Capital University Law School. Capital’s is the only law school in the nation affiliated with the ELCA. Prior to joining Capital’s law program, he served as associate dean and professor at the University of Montana School of Law. From 1979 through 1985, he practiced corporate law with the Milwaukee law firm of Frisch, Dudek and Slattery. He is both a C.P.A. and a lawyer.
He is active as a leader in his community. Since coming to the Quad Cities, he has been chair of the executive board of the Illowa Council of Boy Scouts of America, and recently completed two terms as president of the board of the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce, in which role he helped lead efforts to create the unified (Illinois and Iowa) Quad City Chamber. He has also served on the boards of directors of the Putnam Museum, the local United Way and the Quad City Symphony Orchestra Association.
Steven Bahls was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1954. He and his wife, Jane, were married in 1977. Jane Easter Bahls is a graduate of Cornell College and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and is active both as a freelance writer and as a presenter of workshops on writing. They have three children: Daniel, a Williams College and Boston University Law School graduate, is a lawyer in Michigan; Timothy, a graduate of Middlebury College and University of Wisconsin Graduate School, is a computer scientist in California, and Angela, who is an Augustana student. Steve and Jane are the proud grandparents of Kirana Wenxin Lynne Bahls and Asha He-ping Bahls. Jane and Steve are members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Moline.