Goal Six: resources for growth
Strengthen the college's endowment, financial structure, human resources, physical facilities and information systems to provide appropriate resources for academic achievement and personal growth.
When Augustana's strategic plan was approved in early 2005, no one could have foreseen the severe economic challenges arising in late 2008. And yet I am more grateful than ever that this plan was and remains in place, since a rudder is never more needed than in rough waters. Because of this plan, the programs are now in motion that will add further differentiation to Augustana's already distinctive place in American higher education-Senior Inquiry, Augie Choice and a fully integrated Center for Vocational Reflection.
Furthermore, thanks to the steadfast work of colleagues and the dedicated support of alumni and friends, we have been able to achieve important aims of the strategic plan ahead of schedule. Reaching our enrollment target of 2,500, instituting a tuition plan that enhances the experiential learning opportunities of our students, and making impressive progress on our campaign, Authentically Augustana: A Call to Action-all of these achievements will help the college weather the financial storms ahead.
While uncertainties abound in the regional, national and global economies, so do opportunities. Because of the sound fiscal management that has been an Augustana hallmark for decades, our Board of Trustees had the confidence to do something extraordinary. In October, the board announced a tuition increase of 3.9 percent for the 2009-10 academic year.
This is extraordinary for two reasons: first, by bringing its rate of increase in line with inflation, Augustana will see the smallest percentage increase in tuition in a generation; second, the board's announcement came almost six months earlier than is usual for colleges and universities.
Recognizing that there is little that is "usual" about the current economic climate, the board made its announcement in order to give the families of current and prospective Augustana students some much-needed time and clarity to plan for the road ahead. Students and their parents often are asked to confirm their college choice before tuition rates have been established for the coming year. We realize education is a major financial decision, and we want them to make the decision to choose Augustana based on our educational excellence and not on economic guesses or assumptions. Of course, we also hope they will keep in mind other aspects of Augustana's commitment to making high-quality education accessible. This includes three remarkable numbers: 97 percent of all students receive financial assistance, 93 percent of those who graduated in 2008 had enrolled at Augustana four years before, and 97 percent of graduates are employed or begin graduate school within nine months. Taken together, these three numbers speak volumes to the value of an Augustana education.
The future holds many doubts, to be sure. But at Augustana College we will face that future with assurance. Our confidence is based on two compelling factors. First, though Augustana's financial resources may be strained by the nation's economic crisis, our human resources are not. We enjoy record enrollment, record graduation rates and record diversity. As president of this wonderful college, it is clear to me our campus is a community of committed and imaginative people who care passionately about our students and their success.
On the pages that follow this report, you will find evidence of the other critical pillar on which our confidence rests. Here you will find the names of those who, over the past year, have partnered with Augustana in the fulfillment of its mission to provide a transformative education that prepares students for lives of leadership and service. Our world's need for leaders thus equipped does not diminish in difficult times, it intensifies.
Working together with dedicated colleagues and committed alumni and friends, I have no doubt we will not only preserve, but indeed strengthen, Augustana College.