Steven C. Bahls is the eighth president of Augustana College. He joined the college in the summer of 2003 and was installed as president in October of that year. Among the major developments on campus since then:
• Faculty, staff and students worked together on two strategic plans — first Authentically Augustana: A Strategic Plan for a Premier Liberal Arts College and now Augustana 2020: Our Path Forward.
• Major campus improvements have included the building of Duane R. Swanson Commons; the Dorothy Parkander Residence Center; the Center for Student Life, including renovations to the Thomas Tredway Library; Thorson-Lucken Field; and the Austin E. Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex, plus substantial renovations to Evald Hall and Old Main
• Augie Choice, a unique grant providing all students up to $2,000 to work with faculty mentors on research projects, pursue international study or engage in an internship, was introduced.
• For the first time in Augustana’s history, 55 percent of students now have a meaningful international experience by the time of their graduation.
• New programs have been added in Africana studies, creative writing, engineering physics, ethics, graphic design, international business, journalism, music composition and neuroscience; faculty leaders have launched the Augustana Center for Polar Studies, the Augustana Center for the Study of Pluralism and the Civil Sphere, and the Upper Mississippi Studies Center.
• Women’s lacrosse was added as the college’s 22nd varsity sport, and the college maintained its ranking as a leading producer of Academic All-Americans.
• A conversation led by Campus Ministries resulted in the Five Faith Commitments of Augustana College, an expression of what it means to be a church-related college in the 21st century.
• The college has raised more than $152 million as part of a comprehensive campaign, enabling Augustana to provide additional funds for scholarships, programming and enhancing buildings.
• Augustana’s enrollment has grown by almost 10 percent, and the faculty has grown by more than 13 percent.
President Bahls has written extensively about a wide range of higher education topics, from shared governance to teaching financial literacy. His writings have been published in numerous journals such as as Trusteeship, Huffington Post, Inside Higher Education, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Intersections, the journal of Lutheran higher education. He is the author of a soon-to-be published book, "Shared Governance in Times of Change: A Practical Guide for Universities and Colleges," published by the Association of Governing Boards.
He has served on the boards of national higher education organizations incluidng the Council of Independent Colleges, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the Lutheran Educational Conference of North America. He also serves on the NCAA Division III Presidents' Advisory Council, and in January 2014 he was invited by President Obama to be part of the White House Summit on Higher Education.
A recognized scholar in the area of business law and agricultural law, President Bahls has also written hundreds of articles in both scholarly publications and magazines such as Entrepreneur, Independent Banker and Nation's Business. His writings about legal issues have been cited by 150 scholarly law journals, including the Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Columbia Law Reviews, and have been cited in reported court opinions in seven states.
President Bahls is a frequent speaker on campus, and he holds open office hours, often in Brew by the Slough, the coffee house in Augustana’s Center for Student Life. Most evenings and weekends, you’ll find him at Augustana’s music, cultural and athletic events.
Prior to joining Augustana College, he was dean at Capital University Law School, the only law school in the nation affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Prior to joining Capital’s law program, he served as associate dean and professor at the University of Montana School of Law. From 1979 through 1985, he practiced corporate law with the Milwaukee firm of Frisch, Dudek and Slattery. He is a CPA and a lawyer.
He is active as a leader in his community. Since coming to the Quad Cities, he has been chair of the executive board of the Illowa Council of Boy Scouts of America, and completed two terms as president of the board of the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce, in which role he helped lead efforts to create the unified (Illinois and Iowa) Quad City Chamber. He also has served on the boards of directors of the Putnam Museum, the local United Way, the Quad City Symphony Orchestra Association and Genesis Health System.
Steven Bahls was born in Des Moines in 1954. He and his wife, Jane, were married in 1977. Jane Easter Bahls is a graduate of Cornell College and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. She had a 22-year career as a freelance writer after eight years as a college religion and philosophy instructor. Jane is active in the life of Augustana and in the community, including Operation Read, Churches United, Ballet Quad Cities and Family Resources. Jane and Steve are members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Moline.
Steve and Jane have three children: Daniel, a Williams College and Boston University Law School graduate, is a lawyer in Massachusetts; Timothy, a graduate of Middlebury College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School, is a computer scientist in Wisconsin; and Angela, an Augustana alumna, is a graduate student in communication sciences and disorders at the University of Arizona. Steve and Jane also are the proud grandparents of Kirana Wenxin Lynne Bahls, Asha He-ping Bahls and Jivan Ananda Wijaya.