Frequently Asked Questions

Augustana has developed a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) based on feedback received from our campus constituents, alumni and friends of the university during the strategic planning process. The FAQs are categorized based on the approved aspirational goals and the strategic planning process. New FAQs may be added on a regular basis.

A number of articles have been published regarding the strategic planning process that also can be reviewed as a reference.


Academics

Is there a way to enhance the liberal arts core through restructuring?

As part of the strategic plan, Augustana’s academic systems and structures will evolve in ways essential to empower our students and, through an unwavering commitment to the liberal arts, enable them to lead and succeed in life and in their vocations. Thus, to fully understand the conceptual framework for Augustana’s 2030 plan in academics, it helps to understand high-impact educational practices.

These practices include instructional methods such as study-away and study-abroad programs, internships, undergraduate research, learning communities, collaborative assignments and common intellectual experiences associated with problem solving.

And although these educational methods are already present at Augustana, the strategic plan will hone in on how the experiences are integrated in ways that can challenge students to think more creatively and more critically while preparing them for their future.

The strategic plan seeks to accelerate the evolution and implementation of experiential teaching and learning by adopting new and exciting best practices to enhance the student experience in ways unique to Augustana — from new degrees and programs to assessing how we teach to innovative partnerships — always providing the highest quality education to our students.

Additional benefits of evolving our academic structures include:

  • Efficient budgeting practices that help us better identify and allocate resources.
  • Providing more pathways from the community into the classroom and the various majors, minors, and programs of which they are a part. This will be especially important for community partners who want to collaborate with faculty and students in ways associated with experiential and problem-based teaching and learning.
  • Flexibility in adapting our programs to meet the changing requirements of different accrediting bodies. Each program has different needs. We recognize that like people, each program is different, and each requires faculty to utilize and develop customized curricula that reflect the uniqueness of the program.
  • Provide new learning opportunities for adult learners and non-traditional students, while expanding our undergraduates’ pathways to advanced degrees. Augustana will thus design graduate programs structured to facilitate more opportunities for students and sustainable teaching methods to maintain our rigorous academic quality.
  • Developing a different academic structure will allow Augustana to be more nimble and responsive, as well as more effective in the management of human and fiscal resources.
  • A new model focusing on schools and colleges will allow us to attract donors considering ways to honor a legacy in the form of a named school or college.

What will stay the same? What won’t change?
Augustana will remain a university that is inspired by the Lutheran scholarly tradition and the liberal arts in order to provide an education of enduring worth that challenges the intellect, fosters integrity and integrates faith with learning and service in a diverse world. Central to the Augustana experience are five core values, which also stand the test of time and will not change – Christian, Liberal Arts, Excellence, Community, and Service. The campus community will continue to live these values, honor them, and infuse them into academic curriculum as well as student life. 

Is Augustana moving away from the liberal arts?
Augustana is not moving away from the liberal arts; in fact, the liberal arts are the foundation of the university. The liberal arts provide the knowledge and skills necessary in the 21st century to produce innovative, critical thinkers prepared to enter society and solve complex, unstructured problems not likely to be addressed by artificial intelligence or data analytics in the decades to come.

To achieve this, our core curriculum is designed to provide all students with a range of subjects that fosters the creation of a diverse set of skills and develops a broad foundation of understanding and knowledge. Substantial work has been done already to adapt the liberal arts to the needs of the present age: the recent adoption of SOPHIA as our core curriculum and an innovative First Year Seminar (FYS) program are but a couple of examples.

Our core curriculum and the emphasis on interdisciplinary, experiential learning and various high-impact practices produce knowledgeable, critical thinking students who are prepared to serve and solve complex problems.

What do we mean by the liberal arts at Augustana?
The liberal arts are the foundation of Augustana University. What we mean by “liberal arts” is providing the knowledge and skills necessary in the 21st century to produce innovative, ethical, and critical thinkers prepared to enter society and solve unstructured and critical problems. To achieve this, our core curriculum is designed to offer all students a wide range of subjects that challenge their assumptions, deepen their thinking about common issues and subjects, develop critical skill sets, and create a strong foundation of understanding and knowledge – all of which informs their decision making as leaders who serve their communities and professions.

Will there be new academic programs?
As Augustana continues to build upon our deep and enduring commitment to the liberal arts, we seek to create new and enhanced opportunities for our students. The knowledge and critical thinking derived from our curriculum in combination with our interdisciplinary opportunities and high-impact practices will provide students a strong foundation for becoming servant leaders in our community. This includes aligning the skills attained by our graduates with needs in the community, business and education.

As part of this effort, there will be new programs added at Augustana both in undergraduate and graduate studies. The university will continue to serve and prepare our students and be responsive to the workforce needs of the community, region and beyond.

For further information about the Academics strategic planning process, read the March 28 Sioux.Falls Business article: Learning for the future to drive Augustana's 2030 plan.


Enrollment & Strategic Scholarships

What is the ideal strategy for achieving the enrollment goal of 3,000? How many undergraduate, how many graduate and how many students in online programs will make up this population?
To reach the goal of 3,000 students, Augustana will implement a multi-faceted approach which will include new and enhanced recruitment and marketing strategies and the development of new programs – both undergraduate and graduate – that are in demand by students and employers.

Identifying the right mix of academic offerings and high impact practices, while staying true to the liberal arts tradition, will be essential. The number of undergraduate and graduate students will depend upon the academic portfolio that is offered. The Enrollment & Strategic Scholarships Steering Committee identified approximate goals of 2,200 to 2,300 undergraduate students and 700 to 800 graduate students. It’s possible that some degrees may be entirely online and some students may have options for online, in-person, or hybrid courses throughout their academic journey.

Why is it important to enhance diversity?
Augustana’s mission is to prepare students to be servant leaders in a diverse world. Therefore, the university is committed to creating an inclusive environment of learning and collaboration as we continue to foster global perspectives in our students. Diversity factors heavily into our vision because we believe that, by helping more students actively learn about each other and the world, we’re also preparing more individuals to make tomorrow’s communities even better than today’s. As the Sioux Falls region continues to grow in population and diversity, it’s important for Augustana to meet expanding educational and cultural needs. Recognizing and embracing the changing demographics in our city, state, and region enriches the overall learning experience, bringing different ideas, perspectives, experiences, and opinions to the classroom and to campus.

Augustana will recruit, retain, and graduate an increasingly diverse student body because of the quality of our academic programs, the strength of our research and experiential learning opportunities, our commitment to high-impact educational practices, and our pursuit of strategic scholarships which foster affordability. We will continue to positively impact the vibrant and growing city of Sioux Falls as we fulfill the needs of businesses in our region who employ a more diverse workforce.

Augustana will also seek to build on the university’s reputation for attracting and serving international students, who enhance the quality of the academic environment and the cultural richness of the college experience for everyone. 

How do we increase awareness of Augustana in new markets?
The Office of Strategic Communications & Marketing is developing a strategic marketing and communications plan. Much of the plan will be built around Viking Bold. The Office of Strategic Communications & Marketing works closely with the Office of Admission and the Office of Graduate and Continuing Education to tell the Augustana story and to coordinate the allocation of marketing resources related to enrollment goals. The university will continue to strategize and identify new and targeted opportunities through traditional and digital advertising, earned and paid media, social media, sponsorships and through recruitment funnels.

For further information about the Enrollment & Strategic Scholarships strategic planning process, read the April 11 Sioux.Falls Business article: Augustana aims to reach 3,000 students, diversify through strategic scholarships.


Athletics

Why move to Division I?
A transition to Division I athletics is an appropriate goal for Augustana, and complements our academic and other goals, for three primary reasons: 1) the visibility and branding opportunities for the university; 2) our position as the largest university in the state’s largest city with opportunities to grow and expand with the local community; and 3) the success of Augustana’s current athletics program, along with the expectation of excellence in all aspects of university and community life.

Augustana has a culture of excellence both in academics and athletics. Augustana views a move to Division I as part of a logical progression in strengthening our position as a top regional university while also building upon our reputation for academic quality and extraordinary graduates.

A transition to Division I is about more than athletics. Amidst an increasingly competitive higher-education marketplace, a Division I athletics program presents opportunities to elevate the profile of Augustana’s academic programs and to brand the university more effectively.  Additional visibility can help increase enrollment, enhance diversity, and attract more corporate partners to support academics, athletics, the arts, scholarships and capital projects.

Moreover, an effective transition is possible because Augustana is the largest university in Sioux Falls and the largest private university in South Dakota. As the city continues to grow, the university can, too. In addition to many alumni across the country who understand the strategic value of a Division I athletics program, many business and civic leaders in Sioux Falls are envisioning the positive economic impact a Division I university could have on the city and region. We believe they are ready to invest even more in Augustana and make the transition a reality.

Finally, over the past 14 years, Augustana has substantially increased the investment in athletics in order to be a top Division II program. That investment has paid off. In the past four years alone, Viking athletics has won three of its five national championships. The university is ready for the next level of competition based on the successes of our talented coaching staff and the caliber of our student-athletes, who perform at the highest levels in their sports and in the classroom.

Has a definitive decision already been made that we are moving to Division I?
The university is now pursuing a move to a Division I conference following the December 2018 approval by the Augustana Board of Trustees of the aspiration goals and the unanimous approval of the strategic plan in December 2019. Moving to Division I is not an automatic change. The NCAA has a specific process that must be followed as part of any transition to a DI conference.

The first step in the process is securing an invitation to join a Division I conference. Currently, Augustana does not have an invitation. We are engaged in substantial internal analysis and informal conversations with potential new conferences, and we hope to secure an invitation by December 2020. Once an invitation is secured – whether on this timetable or longer – Augustana can submit a reclassification application and fee with the NCAA by June 1 of any given year.

Because of our reputation for academic excellence, the success of our student-athletes and coaches, and our location in Sioux Falls, Augustana is excited about what we have to offer a potential new conference. We appreciate our current Division II home – the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference – and will continue to work closely with our NSIC colleagues and to compete for championships while in the league.

What is the process for reclassifying to Division I?
There are numerous steps that occur when a university transitions to Division I. It is not an automatic change – the university must follow key steps that are required by the NCAA.

  • Once Augustana receives a multi-sport conference invitation, the university may then submit its reclassification paperwork along with a fee to the NCAA by June 1 of any given year. The 4- to 5-year reclassification period begins in the fall of that same year.
  • The NCAA outlines annual parameters during the reclassification period that includes an updated strategic plan and a self-study.
  • During the reclassification period, teams are eligible for regular-season conference play, and, in some instances, conference tournament play as well.
  • Teams are not eligible for the NCAA postseason during the reclassification period; however, some sports will be eligible for other non-NCAA, postseason opportunities (including the CBI, CIT & WNIT tournaments for basketball and newly created NISC tournament for softball).

Who is working on the goal of transitioning to Division I?
As part of the overall strategic planning process, an athletics steering committee and several task forces were formed, comprised of faculty, coaches, staff and students. The steering committee was focused on outlining specific objectives and tactics to meet the objectives of a Division I transition. 

Augustana University has retained Carr Sports Consulting to assist with next steps. As part of their work, Carr Sports is updating the assessment done for Augustana in 2016-17 and will provide benchmark data to be used when looking at achieving all four objectives related to a Division I transition.

Will our recruitment strategy and the type of student-athletes we recruit change in order to be successful in Division I?
Augustana’s high academic standards attract high-performing student-athletes. We will continue to recruit student-athletes who want to be part of a dynamic and rigorous academic and athletic environment. They will work with outstanding faculty and accomplished coaches to attain an exceptional education enhanced with high impact experiences that lead to successful post-graduate outcomes.

For further information about the Athletics strategic planning process, read the July 8 Sioux.Falls Business article: Augustana maintains academic and athletic excellence on the road to Division I.


Strategic Planning Timeline & Process

What was the timeline of the strategic planning process?

Augustana began the strategic planning process in February 2019 following approval by the Board of Trustees in December 2018 of the university's aspirational goals. The steering committees, and task forces that were established, were asked to make recommendations in accordance with their committee charges by September 2019 in order to develop the first draft of the strategic plan. The draft was distributed campuswide for review, to include discussion and feedback in October and November. The final draft of the proposed strategic plan was presented to and approved by the Augustana Board of Trustees in December 2019.

The strategic planning process in 2019 included the following: 

  • February – May: Committees identified and drafted priorities and milestones. Task forces researched, identified and/or recommended 
specific objectives.

  • June – August: The Academics, Enrollment and Strategic Scholarships, Athletics, and Physical Campus and IT steering committees met independently and conducted further research and analysis related to potential recommendations.

    • August 16: Each steering committee completed their respective goal & strategies worksheets and submitted to the Strategic Planning Chair, Dr. Pam Homan.
    • August 20 and 27: Dr. Homan presented the completed worksheets to the President’s Council. The President’s Council reviewed and compiled the worksheets into a unified draft of the strategic plan.
  • September – October: The strategic plan was drafted based on work by steering committees and task forces and reviewed by the President's Council. Feedback solicited from the campus community informed the subsequent revisions.
    • September 9: A meeting was held to include all steering committees in order to review the unified draft of the strategic plan and suggest edits.
    • September 17: The President's Council received and reviewed the unified draft of the strategic plan based on the September 9 meeting.
  • October – November: Multiple sessions were scheduled and held with the campus community to review and discuss the unified draft. Following the review sessions, the President’s Council, in collaboration with the steering committees, finalized the strategic plan.

  • December: The recommended strategic plan was presented to the Board of Trustees.

When did the steering committees begin forming their recommendations to present to the Board of Trustees?

The steering committees worked over the summer to start formalizing their recommendations for the first draft of the strategic plan, which was written in September. In October and November, the draft of the strategic plan was shared across campus for discussion and feedback. The recommended strategic plan was presented and unanimously approved at the Board of Trustees meeting in December 2019.

What was presented to the Board of Trustees in December 2019?
The recommended strategic plan was presented to the Augustana Board of Trustees in December 2019 – a result of eight months of work by steering committees and task forces that helped to identify specific objectives related to the aspirational goals and to prioritize the goals and objectives for the strategic plan. In September, the President’s Council develop a unified draft of the strategic plan based on the steering committees’ recommendations, and there were multiple opportunities to review and provide input on the strategic plan in October and November before it was presented to the Board of Trustees. The approved strategic plan reflects that our planning process was excellent. We will now execute the plan with excellence by developing operational plans that correspond with our annual budgets throughout our journey to 2030.

When did the Augustana Board of Trustees formally approve the final strategic plan?
The Augustana Board of Trustees reviewed the recommended strategic plan at the December 2019 meeting and voted unanimously to approve Viking Bold. 

Were there and will there continue to be ways for students to be involved?
In addition to the students who served on steering committees and task forces, there were many opportunities for students to participate in the on-campus review sessions of the unified draft of the strategic plan. The President and members of the cabinet continue to work with the Augustana Student Association and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in sharing information and receiving input from the student body.

Why should the community embrace the strategic plan?
The strategic plan reflects so many of the ideas and dreams the campus community shared during ideation sessions facilitated by President Herseth Sandlin in the spring of 2018. The plan also recognizes that to survive and thrive as an education of higher learning amidst extraordinary change in the higher-education marketplace, Augustana must preserve its core values, especially the liberal arts, and our most important academic traditions while also being willing to adapt to change, take risks, and innovate with colleagues and institutional partners.   

The strategic plan has several positive outcomes for the broader Sioux Falls community as well.

  • Economic impact: With every student Augustana adds to its physical campus, we impact the economy. Campus events draw guests, spectators, students and families to our community who in turn support local businesses and generate tax revenue.
  • Workforce development: Augustana generates high quality, well-prepared employees and leaders who fill positions and contribute talent and skills to organizations throughout Sioux Falls and the region. Expanding our academic offerings and cultivating even more experiential learning opportunities helps meet workforce needs and leads to more professional advancement for our graduates.
  • Awareness: Increased visibility for Augustana is good for Sioux Falls. As Augustana markets to a wider geographical area to attract students, we share the advantages of employment opportunities, the array of entertainment, recreation, and retail venues/options, as well as the quality of life within the city of Sioux Falls.

Is there a plan to prioritize the various goals and objectives?
The strategic plan included recommended phases. The goals and objectives will be further prioritized at the university level as well as at the departmental level as the plan is operationalized. Urgent demand, costs, staffing, gifts, and time to implement will influence the relative priority of goals and objectives.

How much will it cost to implement the strategic plan?
An important element of the strategic planning process was assessing the potential costs to achieve the strategic goals, which helped to identify the phases for each goal and the potential goal for the corresponding fundraising campaign. Based on our research and thoughtful planning, the university has announced plans to secure $175 million to support our bold strategic goals. Viking Bold: The Journey to 2030 is the largest, most comprehensive fundraising campaign in Augustana's history.

How can I learn more about Viking Bold and stay up-to-date throughout the Journey to 2030?
Please visit augie.edu/vikingbold to learn more about the strategic plan and next steps in our journey.