Skip to main content

Minutes from the President's Cabinet

Minutes from the meetings of the President's Cabinet at Augustana College are posted weekly. This group of senior officers meets regularly with the president throughout the academic year.

Members of the campus community are encouraged to use the President’s Suggestion Box to suggest an update or a new idea, or contact Kai Swanson, 309-794-7419.

Nov. 18, 2022

Annotated agenda

Strategic planning listening sessions update

Cabinet members who’ve led the sessions reported on impressions from the conversations held to date. Nominations for the Strategic Plan Commission have been received, and its roster will be finalized in coming days.

Orientation

Dr. Kristin Douglas, associate dean of the college, Dr. Amanda Wilmsmeyer and Dr. Mariano Magalhães from faculty council, and Mindy Zumdome, director of human resources) participated in a discussion about orientation. The discussion included the purpose of the summer sessions, their timing, and potential improvements that might be considered.

Dr. Monica Smith offered one description of orientation’s purpose as an attempt to introduce new students to what an education at Augustana is all about, recognizing that for some it may be a next step, and for others more of a leap.

Several models for “ownership” of orientation are being considered, and the issue will be brought back to the Cabinet in the coming weeks.

COVID communications

As noted in the Nov. 17 Campus Update from Communications and Marketing, the college continues to provide information on vaccination for COVID-19 and influenza. For people with a confirmed case of COVID, the CDC recommends a five-day isolation period, and wearing a mask for days 6-10. Employees should report positive COVID cases to their supervisors and Human Resources. Students should report COVID cases to Public Safety.

Food insecurity

With the coming holiday break, special efforts will be made to inform students staying in the residence halls of meal options, Campus Cupboard, and other resources available to them on days that Dining Services is closed.

Nov. 2, 2022

Annotated agenda

In her opening comments, President Andrea Talentino noted she’d been meeting with academic departments, and has been impressed with the willingness to help with the three areas of focus (place, distinction and transformation) that are expected to be part of the next strategic plan.

Athletic competitiveness

Dr. Wes Brooks, vice president and dean of student life, led a discussion on a recently completed review of athletic competitiveness at Augustana. The college competes well, generally, within the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (which happens to be among the highest performing conferences in the NCAA’s Division III) and, indeed, Vikings excel in some sports. In order to advance athletics as a whole, plans are being prepared to address understaffing in some areas, offering evaluation metrics tied to professional development opportunities, and closer working relationships between faculty, admissions and athletics.

10th Day data analysis

Led Dr. Kristin Douglas, associate dean of the college, and Dr. Tšooane Molapo, director of institutional research, the Cabinet engaged in more granular analysis of the Fall 2022 Tenth-Day Report. Particular focus was on increasing retention of international students and African-American women by improving engagement opportunities with the campus community.

Oct. 26, 2022

Annotated agenda

In opening the meeting, President Andrea Talentino shared thoughts on her October 15 inauguration, noting it was way cooler than an inauguration she subsequently attended at another institution. She thanked Keri Rursch, vice president of marketing and communication, who led the inauguration planning effort.

Strategic planning processes

As the process that will lead to Augustana’s next strategic plan gets underway, a commission made up of faculty, staff, trustees and students will be named by the president to guide the work. Throughout the process we will work to engage the campus community for input, feedback, and discussion of potential ideas. Initial listening sessions will precede the new commission’s first meeting, expected early in 2023.

Great Colleges update

As in past years, the 2022 Great Colleges to Work For survey shows Augustana’s results largely in line with other national liberal arts colleges. Approximately 38% of faculty members completed the survey, as did 36% of administrative employees and 24% of staff colleagues.

Augustana’s overall survey average was 65% positive, which is in the “Good” range. Areas of improvement were also identified, and much of the cabinet’s discussion centered on means of improving performance assessment. Human Resources will lead the effort to develop more effective policies and training around evaluation, which will complement work already underway to develop policies addressing hybrid- and summer work schedules.

Oct. 19, 2022

Annotated agenda

Work at Augustana College

Director of Human Resources Mindy Zumdome briefed the cabinet on the college’s benefits structure, and presented information related to hybrid and summer work. Several ideas are under consideration and details on any changes to current practice will be shared soon.

Budget

While the national decline in private college enrollment has certainly affected Augustana, plans presented at this month’s board meeting provide a starting point for the college’s response. Vice President for Administration and CFO Kirk Anderson will be refining those plans over the next couple of months, with further updates to the campus community coming soon.

Oct. 5, 2022

Annotated agenda

Board meeting preparation

General Counsel Sheri Curran led the Cabinet through the agenda for the October Board meeting, and Cabinet members shared areas of focus for each of the Board’s committees: Students First, Financial Health, Innovation & Competitive Position, Good Governance, and Audit & Risk.

Restorative justice initiative

Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Dr. Monica Smith informed the Cabinet of a new initiative in restorative justice, which will include training opportunities for the Cabinet, as well as other members of the campus community.

Inauguration update

Vice President for Communication & Marketing Keri Rursch briefed Cabinet members on the upcoming inauguration of Dr. Andrea Talentino. A student picnic, academic presentations and a street party on Seventh Avenue will wrap around what is only the fifth presidential inauguration at Augustana since Orville and Wilbur Wright first flew an airplane at Kitty Hawk.

Sept. 28, 2022

Annotated agenda

The meeting opened with General Counsel Sheri Curran introducing Jennie Hemingway, Augustana’s new Title IX coordinator.

10th-day numbers and fiscal ramifications

The Cabinet reviewed and discussed the enrollment numbers for the current term, which are lower than anticipated and lower than budgeted. While the Cabinet will continue to review the causes for the lower than expected enrollment, some of the causes discussed at this meeting included challenges caused by international students’ inability to obtain needed documentation from embassies and consulates abroad.

While the arrival of many of these students (and transfers) later in the academic year should have a positive impact, the budgetary consequences will require careful consideration and discussion in the coming weeks.

Provost search process

Cabinet members had a conversation via Zoom with Dr. Sharon Herzberger from Academic Search, the firm assisting Augustana in the provost search. It was one in a series of conversations with colleagues undertaken by Dr. Herzberger, who was also part of the presidential search that brought President Andrea Talentino to Augustana.

Sept. 21, 2022

Annotated agenda

Student recruitment plans

For this discussion, Kent Barnds, Augustana’s vice president for external relations, was joined by Courtney Wallace, director of admissions, and John Cage, director of financial aid.

Significant demographic challenges in Illinois coupled with a national decline in demand for higher education are increasing competitiveness for college-bound students. Wallace provided a detailed plan she is leading and actions being taken by the Admissions team. She highlight efforts to rebuild market share and propel growth among strategic populations.

The college is most successful when faculty members and coaches engage in personal contacts with prospective students. Meanwhile, the Augustana Possible initiative, fueled by donors to the Gerber Grand Challenge, is helping address demonstrated need for students who might not otherwise have considered Augustana.

HEDS Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey

For this discussion, Monica Smith, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, was joined by Dr. Tšooane Molapo, director of institutional research.

Augustana participates in the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium, based at Wabash College in Indiana. The HEDS Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey asks students, faculty, staff, and administrators about their perceptions of campus climate, supports for diversity and equity, and experiences with discrimination and harassment.

This information is used to develop a better understanding of the extent to which campus climate supports diversity and equity, and can be used to inform and improve support, policies, and practices in these areas.

Among the information shared are data related to DEI and sense of belonging on member campuses. While significant progress has been made since the college’s initial engagement with the Campus Climate Survey in 2018, continued focus is required.

Dr. Smith says catalytic experiences coordinated by the Office of International Student and Scholar Services and the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity, as well as collaborations with other offices, are among the factors that have helped Augustana advance since 2018. 

Dr. Molapo will be leading a team of five Augustana employees attending a gathering of representatives from participating institutions next month at Wabash, which will consider strategies for addressing campus climate.

Sept. 14, 2022

AGENDA - annotated

In addition to cabinet members, Dr. Amanda Wilmsmeyer, Dr. Mariano Magalhães and Mindy Zumdome participated in the meeting.

Innovation ideas discussion

Notes: The board’s Innovation and Competitive Position Committee is charged with overseeing and advising the board on the administration’s strategies for addressing competitive position. Recent documents prepared for the committee were discussed, with consideration given to which ideas merited closer attention.

PEN America update

Notes: Effective expression across differences is an essential part of citizenship. The cabinet is engaging in conversations on how a partnership with PEN America and the PEN Principles can provide meaningful education, discussion, and tools for both affirming speech rights and also understanding speech responsibilities.

PEN Principles will be the subject of a keynote presentation at the Oct. 12 Fall Symposium.

Sept. 7, 2022

AGENDA, annotated

Fall board meeting

Three thematic components of the fall Board meeting will be place, distinction and transformation. 

Place, meaning being a good neighbor here in the 6th Ward of Rock Island and in the Quad Cities community. 

Distinction speaks to attraction and purpose — finding the students who might best benefit from our mission of helping them discover their purpose. 

Transformation here implies the nimbleness to open up channels for faculty and staff to envision and effect innovation and improvement, especially in student development, in a rapidly changing higher education landscape.

President Andrea Talentino will lead the plenary conversation around place, distinction and transformation, and in a later session Monica Smith, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, will lead a DEI spotlight session for trustees.

HOUSE liaison designee

Following new directives from the State of Illinois regarding assistance for students who are classified as homeless, the Office of Residential Life will appoint a lead advocate who will then work with other offices on campus to coordinate services to students who are homeless.

PEN America

The Cabinet will take part in two follow-up sessions with representatives of PEN America to continue discussions on how to promote a campus that is open to all voices. PEN representatives will also be offering a keynote address and an afternoon session taking part during the Oct. 12 Symposium Day.

Aug. 17, 2022

AGENDA, annotated

During opening comments, President Andrea Talentino reflected on this month’s gathering of presidents from ELCA-related colleges, and shared that her appreciation of Augustana’s strong position was reinforced.

Retention

Cabinet members shared perspectives on a variety of efforts related to student persistence. While much of our focus is on academic success, retention also relies on out-of-the-classroom means of improving each student’s points of engagement with the college. Observing that there are certainly factors beyond our control, Talentino noted that we can all contribute to the coordination of efforts aimed at helping students stay engaged.

The good work of the Persistence and Success Committee was lifted up, as were efforts to complete an independent audit of academic policies and practices to ensure they don’t create inadvertent obstacles to student success.

All-Campus Retreat, Faculty Retreat, Welcome Week

Details related to these and related campus events were shared in order to coordinate Cabinet members’ roles within and across each.

Note: All-Campus Retreat is Monday, Aug. 29, and Faculty Retreat is Tuesday, Aug. 30. If you’d like to volunteer to help with Move-in on Friday, Sept. 2, please contact Beth Ducey in Residential Life at ext. 2691.

Staffing over Labor Day weekend

Vice President for Finance Kirk Anderson reminded Cabinet members to prepare for staffing needs over the upcoming Labor Day holiday.

Et cetera

Talentino thanked Anderson for his work preparing for the college’s bond refinance.

Aug. 3 2022

AGENDA, annotated

During opening comments, President Andrea Talentino shared that during a colloquium of new presidents, she was grateful to note (based on input from other participants) that Augustana’s campus leadership is more experienced and capable than many of our peers. Kudos to all colleagues!

COVID-19 update

Wes Brooks, vice president and dean of student life, led an update on protocols and policies currently in place, noting the lifting of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive order on mandatory testing. As the pandemic continues to evolve, Augustana’s response to COVID will continue to be shaped by local, state and national public health authorities. The Cabinet will share a more detailed campus communication in the coming week.

Presidential statements

In recent years, several important policies have accreted from presidential statements, including in the areas of diversity, inclusion, and freedom of expression. Working with Sheri Curran, general counsel, and Keri Rursch, vice president of marketing and communication, several such documents will be updated as institutional statements.

Orientation/hand-off from recruitment

Brooks and Kent Barnds, executive vice president, will lead a review of the stream that carries students from prospective to enrolled, the goal being to ensure a continuum of care and support for students throughout the journey and beyond to success at Augustana.

Perceptions of Augustana

Rursch will lead analysis of the ways in which Augustana is viewed by prospective, current and former students, and within the national landscape of higher education.

July 21, 2022

Cabinet “Plus”

Cabinet will meet weekly from September through Commencement. For every fourth meeting, additional colleagues (Faculty Council chair and vice-chair, director of human resources, and others as appropriate to topic) will be invited to join the Cabinet.

Cabinet communications

An annotated agenda from each Cabinet meeting will be shared through an internal website. Additionally, President Andrea Talentino will share occasional memos with the campus community.

Internationalization Lab

Provost Wendy Hilton-Morrow led a conversation on the college's participation in American Council on Education's Internationalization Laboratory.  A campus team led by Pedro Bidegaray, director of International and Off-Campus Programs, is analyzing Augustana's current internationalization activities and will recommend a strategic action plan to take internationalization efforts forward.  

Neighborhood connections

Cabinet members discussed the importance of supporting the neighborhoods surrounding Augustana in ways that strengthen the community and provide mutual benefit.

Innovation and distinction

Vice President Kent Barnds shared an update from the Board of Trustees’ Innovation and Competitive Position Committee. The ensuing conversation underscored the importance of all colleagues thinking about innovation and distinction both in terms of new initiatives and reinvigorating established activities.