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Milestones and accomplishments during the tenure of President Steve Bahls

From his inauguration in 2003 until today, Augustana President Steve Bahls has led the campus growth with new programs and majors, new athletics and innovative buildings to support students in all areas of life.

Here are some of the highlights:


October 2003 – Steve Bahls inaugurated as eighth president of Augustana College.

Spring 2004 – Swanson Stadium/Brunner Field is completed.

Steve Bahls at his desk, July 1, 2003.

The new president at his desk in 2003.

May 2004 –Trustees adopt the Five Faith Commitments.

Steve and Jane Bahls

Steve and Jane Bahls at the receiving line after the outdoor inauguration ceremony.

November 2004 – The Dahl President’s Home is finished. Plans for the home were announced in spring 2003.

Dahl President's Home 2004

The Bahls family moves into the new president's home.


January 2005 – Trustees approve Authentically Augustana: A Strategic Plan for a Premier Liberal Arts College (campus master plan, Senior Inquiry included).

Great Wall

President Bahls tours China with the Augustana Choir in 2005. Here they are at the Great Wall.

May 2006 – Students, faculty approve the Honor Code.

August 2006 – The Duane R. Swanson Commons residential complex is completed.

Fall 2006 – New major: women’s and gender studies 

May 2007 – Trustees approve the Environmental Action Plan.

August 2007 – The Dorothy Parkander Residence Center townhouses are finished.

December 2007 – U.S. economic recession begins, continues until mid-2009 


Winter – The Augie Choice grants program is announced.

May – Authentically Augustana: A Call to Action, a $100M campaign, is publicly launched.

Carlsson-Evald Hall

Carlsson Hall renovations are completed in June, transforming the former dormitory into classroom space. It was renamed Emmy Carlsson Evald Hall.

May – Accelerated BA/BSN program with Trinity College of Nursing established.

May – President Bahls tours Sweden with alumni.


Fall 2009 – New majors: Africana studies, multimedia journalism and mass communication, anthropology (now sociology/anthropology), environmental studies.

November 2009 – Varsity women’s lacrosse added.

Summer 2010 – Varsity men’s lacrosse added.

Fall 2010 – New majors: Creative writing, graphic design, international business, music performance-composition, neuroscience.

150th anniversary

Augustana notes its 150th anniversary in 2010. President Bahls celebrates the sesquicentennial with the community at Schwiebert Park in Rock Island.

Hanson family and Steve Bahls

In August 2010, the Science Building is named after Robert ’48 and Patricia Hanson. President Steve Bahls is shown at the dedication with the late Robert and Patricia Hanson, their grand-nieces Pamela, left, and Jennifer, and their mother, Lisa Wood.


May – Trustees approve Affirm, Assure, Assess, an addendum to the Authentically Augustana strategic plan.

Fall – New majors: applied mathematics, Spanish for professional use.

Thorson-Lucken Field

Thorson-Lucken Field (lacrosse/soccer) is dedicated in October.

Scaffolding around Old Main

An exterior restoration of Old Main is finished in fall.


May – The Authentically Augustana: A Call to Action campaign concludes, surpassing goal with $152M 

September – Official Viking mascot, Gustav (Gus) Mahler, is introduced.

Wood Buffalo National Park Canada

Jane and Steve Bahls at Wood Buffalo National Park during a summer sabbatical in the Canadian Arctic.

Fall – The National Hispanic Institute selects Augustana as its College of the Year.

Fall – Multicultural students comprise 23% of incoming class; almost triple since 2003.


January – The Upper Mississippi Studies Center opens.

September/October – The Center for Student Life is dedicated (later named The Gerber Center).

knowlton complex

The Austin E. Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex, including the Charles D. Lindberg Stadium and Ken Anderson Academic All-America Club, is completed in the fall.

October – Old Main is rededicated as interior renovations are finished.

December – The Close the Gap grant program is announced.


January – President Bahls attends a White House summit to discuss college access for low-income students.

May – Trustees approve the Augustana 2020: Our Path Forward strategic plan. 

September – Augustana named one of U.S. most beautiful college campuses (

Fall – Incoming class is second largest, most diverse to date in college history.

Fall – CORE (Careers, Opportunities, Research, Exploration) opens.

Fall – New major: public health.

Fall – The AugiePlex fitness center opens (former Westerlin dining hall).


August – The Westerlin Residence Center renovation (first of three phases) is completed.

Fall – Learning Commons (student support services) established.

April 2016 – Varsity men’s volleyball, women’s bowling added.

Brunner Theatre Center

President Bahls speaks at the opening of the new Brunner Theatre Center (the former College Center) in August 2016.


March – President Bahls participates in the first Higher Education Summit of the U.S. and Mexico in Guadalajara.

Late summer – Westerlin Residence Center renovation completed.

Fall – President Bahls establishes the President’s Advisory Council.

March 2018 – Augustana welcomes its first vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Steve and Jane Bahls

Steve and Jane Bahls in the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, with an alumni trip in May 2017.

augustana now event

AUGUSTANA NOW, a $125M campaign, is publicly launched in October 2018. President Bahls and Jane Bahls travel the country meeting with alumni, here at the Morton Arboretum near Chicago.

Fall 2018 – The Carver strength center is renovated, named the Fairchild Family Strength Center.


Ruth and Lefty Anderson Pavilion

The Ruth and Lefty Anderson Pavilion was finished in May.

February – Plans for the Peter J. Lindberg, M.D., Center for Health and Human Performance are announced.

September – President Bahls appoints a Climate Change Task Force.

Fall – Academic calendar moves from trimesters to semesters.

Fall – New major: kinesiology 

hanson class

A class in the new addition to the Hanson Hall of Science, which opened in the fall of 2019.


Steve Bahls

Like everyone on campus, President Bahls wears a mask. Here is is at the ribbon-cutting for the new health clinic on campus in August.

January – The first J-term classes are held under the new semester calendar.

March – The college moves to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; Augustana Strong Task Force is established.

April – Varsity men’s and women’s water polo, women’s wrestling added.

June – Trustees renew President Bahls’ contract through May 2022.

lacrosse practice

The college completed fall semester with in-person classes amid the pandemic as students masked up and followed guidelines.

June – Brodahl Hall renovation and expansion completed.

June – Speech-language pathology master’s program begins. 

Fall – New major: data analytics

September – In-person classes begin amid the pandemic; strict guidelines in place.


September – College receives second HEED Award for commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

December – Augustana ranks 24th in nation among baccalaureate colleges for percentage of international student enrollment.

December – AUGUSTANA NOW campaign concludes, surpassing goal with $135M.