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Steve Bahls

A presidency well served since 2003

President Steve Bahls has announced that he will retire in 2022. In this special issue of Augustana College Magazine, trustees, former and current colleagues, alumni and others reflect on his leadership in four areas: 

• Financial security • Campus planning • Diversity, equity, inclusion • Community leadership

• Here are some of the highlights, year by year.

AUGUSTANA NOW success: Old Main shines $135M gold

The Old Main dome turned gold New Year’s Eve in celebration, as the college surpassed its $125 million goal for the AUGUSTANA NOW campaign. The total raised during the 5 1/2-year campaign stands at $135,530,205.

“It took the hard work and shared vision of thousands of people to surpass that goal by millions of dollars,” said Kent Barnds, executive vice president for external relations and the leader for philanthropy at Augustana.

Financial security

Steve Bahls

Challenging times call for proven leadership

Despite revenue losses since the pandemic closed campus in March, the college has added three varsity sports and a major, and launched a master’s program in speech-language pathology.

Winter in the Windy City

Successfully sharing the vision

As president, Steve Bahls crisscrossed the country to meet with alumni and friends of the college, successfully completing two ambitious fundraising campaigns.

Campus planning

Gerber Center dining hall

Building on a team approach

Reflecting recommendations from the campus community, the investment of nearly $115 million in new and improved facilities is about more than bigger spaces.

Swanson Commons residence hall

Modernizing with respect for history, beauty 

Campus has been transformed and modernized more in the past 20 years than probably any other time in Augustana history, without losing its history, beauty and charm.

Diversity, equity, inclusion

Dr. Monica Smith

A lasting first impression

"In the nearly two decades that I’ve been in the diversity, equity and inclusion space, Augustana is the healthiest place I have worked." — Dr. Monica M. Smith

Group of students

Creating a place where all feel welcome

President Bahls’ greatest impact on diversity, equity and inclusion has been “his intentional engagement with diverse students and willingness to acknowledge that an opportunity exists." — Collis Jones '88

Community leadership

Steve Bahls interviewed at Modern Woodmen Park

A trusted leader to turn to

Augustana’s new president showed that serving the Quad-City community as well as the college was important to him — though no one is sure how he found the time.

Steve and Jane Bahls at his inauguration

Shaping the lives of others

"From the moment he set foot on campus, Steve has always insisted on excellence as the goal, for himself and for Augustana." — Dr. Jeff Abernathy



AUGUSTANA NOW finishes $10M over goal

“The campaign has impacted every student. It’s impacted every faculty member. It’s impacted every program at Augustana College, and for that we are eternally grateful.” — President Steve Bahls

Dr. Kathy Stumpf ’64 Jongsma and Dr. Gene Jongsma

Gifts reflect donors' life stories

Donor journeys: A pair of traveling educators, an alumna who remembers what it's like to need support, and a daughter who honors her parents’ commitment to faith and music.