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College receives $1.5M from John Deere Foundation for data analytics

Augustana College announces a $1.5 million grant from the John Deere Foundation to establish the Robert A. Hanson Endowed Chair in Data Analytics.

This endowed chair is a critical step in the creation of a data analytics program at Augustana. Hiring an established professor in this field will help the college engineer a program that builds on its strengths, remains true to its excellent liberal arts and sciences tradition and mission, capitalizes on its location and existing partnerships, and prepares Augustana students to solve the complex challenges faced by 21st-century employers.

"The growing importance of data analytics in making business decisions is becoming more widely recognized, and the John Deere Foundation is delighted to partner with Augustana on this exciting initiative," said Mara Sovey Downing, president of the John Deere Foundation. "We believe this could be a game changer for the Quad-Cities community in providing skilled talent to fill this growing STEM-related need."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment in data analytics will grow by 30 percent by 2024. The demand for managers and analysts who can understand and make decisions using "big data" is estimated to reach 1.5 million by 2018.

Augustana is part of a small group of liberal arts colleges that is the vanguard of offering an undergraduate degree in data analytics. In the Augustana data analytics program, students will apply skills gained in their liberal arts curriculum within the context of a robust qualitative and quantitative program of study. Their program will promote depth and breadth of knowledge and the curious nature that makes good analysts who can understand and extract meaningful information from a vast amount of data.

Current Augustana faculty members, including Dr. Jon Clauss and Dr. John Delaney, have been and will continue to be instrumental in building the college's data analytics program, with plans to introduce a minor and major in 2018 and 2020, respectively. The minor will be a natural supplemental course of study for business and all its concentrations (management, marketing, finance, international business or management information systems), as well as economics, biology and public health.

Hanson, for whom the chair will be named, passed away in May 2016. He was a 1948 graduate of Augustana. He went on to a successful 40-year career with Deere and Company, including serving as CEO from 1982-1990. His legacy is felt on the Augustana campus; in 2010 he and his wife Patricia made an $8 million gift to name the Robert A. and Patricia K. Hanson Hall of Science.

Deere and Company and the John Deere Foundation have been close partners of the college for many years. Augustana has been the grateful recipient of more than $3 million for various projects and initiatives on campus, including the John Deere Planetarium, science facilities, the Tredway Library and Carlsson Evald Hall.

"Augustana appreciates its long partnership with Deere and Company and the John Deere Foundation," said Steve Bahls, president of Augustana College. "Hundreds of Augustana students and alumni have benefited from internships and jobs at Deere. This latest partnership with the John Deere Foundation will provide opportunities for hundreds of students well into the future."


Sam Schlouch, senior communications director, 309-794-7833

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