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Reflecting on the past 10 years

A message from President Steven Bahls

February  27, 2013

steve bahls
Steven Bahls

Jane and I are celebrating our 10th year at Augustana this year. It seems only yesterday that we arrived. What an honor and privilege it has been to work with our students, faculty, staff and board members, as we endeavor to keep Augustana strong and faithful to its mission in this rapidly changing world.

Beginning in February, Jane and I will be traveling around the nation to visit with alumni about the changes at Augustana during the last 10 years and where they would like to see Augustana head in the years to come. (Click here for a list of cities on the anniversary tour.)

Our Authentically Augustana strategic plan has been the driver of changes over the past 10 years, providing the college with the resources to support today’s students with the advanced skills necessary in this changing world. The plan unleashed the creativity and entrepreneurism of the Augustana community to achieve major enhancements at the college:

  • Addition of Augie Choice, a program providing each and every student up to $2,000 in support of international study, internships or faculty-guided research. As a result, today more than half of our students study abroad, and more than half participate in internship programs.
  • Addition of Senior Inquiry, a capstone requirement that takes student learning to a higher level through close work with faculty on rigorous projects within their majors.
  • Upgrade of our buildings to meet the needs of our students, including renovated academic buildings (Old Main and Carlsson Evald Hall), new residence halls (Duane R. Swanson Commons and Parkander Residence Center), and athletic facilities (Thorson-Lucken Field for soccer and lacrosse and the Austin E. Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex).
  • Increase in diversity. The college’s incoming first-year class last fall was 23% multicultural, about triple what it was 10 years ago.
  • Addition of more than 75 new full-time faculty members.

The college was able to accomplish these objectives thanks to the hard work of faculty and staff and the financial support of our alumni and friends.

Most of the goals of Authentically Augustana have been completed. It is my sense, and the college trustees’ sense that the time is ripe for a strategic plan that will carry us to 2020 and beyond. Some of the questions the college should address over the next few years are:

— How do we build our capacity to increase the reputation and “value proposition” of Augustana to continue attracting promising students who will benefit from a liberal arts and sciences education?

— How, within the traditional residential campus structure, can we harness the immense power of technology to advance our students’ learning outcomes?

— How do we keep Augustana strong at a time when serious economic pressures faced by families make high-tuition models unsustainable?

— Given the benefits we’ve realized from increasing the multicultural diversity of Augustana among U.S. students, should we consider the goal of increasing our international student enrollment to 10 percent?

— How can we best remain true to Augustana’s mission as a residential college of the liberal arts and sciences that speaks to students in mind, spirit and body, while at the same time upholding our long tradition of preparing our students for the world of work?

Together, we have accomplished much good work at Augustana. But there is much left to do. I hope to see you and hope you will share your thoughts in the months ahead as we reflect on where we’ve been and where we want Augustana to be in 2020.

Steven C. Bahls is the eighth president of Augustana College.