A Report from the President 2008
By President Steven C. Bahls, January 2009
At the beginning of 2008, I asked the campus community to consider a couple of very important questions: Who are we as a community of learners and teachers? How does the mission of the college shape the way we do our work and the manner in which we relate to one another?
While these questions are of the kind we perennially ask students through our Center for Vocational Reflection, the particular substance of these questions-our nature and character as an academic community- became more insistent in mid-September when the state of the nation's economy was recognized worldwide as a crisis.
And so we ask in this time of economic strain: Who are we as a learning community? The answer is twofold. First, Augustana College is as it has always been: a liberal arts college of tremendous strengths and virtues. Our strengths are exemplified by our students' college experiences, and by the success we watch unfold in the lives of our graduates. Because we carry out our mission-driven goal to prepare students to be leaders in a changing world, it's exciting to see our graduates transform that potential into real discovery and impact in a complex and changing society.
As for virtue, I suggest that while there are many liberal arts colleges who, like us, can and will navigate these challenging times-there is virtue in how Augustana does it differently. We will continue to build on a primary strength long held by the college: close, intentional relationships between faculty and students within a strong academic program. Then we will empower these collaborations so they can really make a difference once our students enter graduate school, the work force and their chosen paths of leadership and service. We do this through Senior Inquiry, in which students create and implement a capstone project within their field, in partnership with a faculty mentor. We do this through our ongoing success in creating and diversifying international study experiences, working with our Office of International Programs. And we do this through the unique new initiative Augie Choice, providing students up to $2,000 to further customize their academic path.
These examples, characteristic of Augustana's growth throughout the year, provide the second part to the answer. While Augustana is first and foremost a liberal arts college with a mission that remains strong in nature and in practice-we also are a community of teachers and learners who can recognize and thrive within change. Augustana College could not "offer a challenging education that develops qualities of mind, spirit and body necessary for a rewarding life of leadership and service in a diverse and changing world" if we, as an institution and a community, did not rise to the occasion of change. In doing so, we continue to grow as a premier liberal arts college even as we remain authentic to our mission.
The change that is inherent in growth underlies the six goals of Authentically Augustana: A Strategic Plan for a Premier Liberal Arts College. I invite you to follow that growth throughout this report on Augustana's progress during the fourth year of our strategic plan, and join us in gratitude for those whose names you will find in our Honor Roll of Donors. Their support made this progress possible, and to them, my colleagues and I offer our thanks on behalf of Augustana's students, the ultimate beneficiaries of all that we do.