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History of Augustana

Higher education in the early days of this country was dominated by private colleges originated by religious groups who saw in them a means to provide leadership for their churches, schools, communities, and ethnic heritage groups. Scandinavian immigrants to the country were no exception.

This institution which was to become Augustana College began with the foundation of Hillsboro Academy in Hillsboro, Illinois, in 1835. By 1846, a Lutheran group had changed the name to "The Literary and Theological Institute of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Far West."

The ambitious new name set the pace for the institution as it moved with the tide of immigration into America's West. The school was moved to Springfield, Illinois, where it became Illinois State University and numbered among its students John Hay, who later became the nation's Secretary of State, and Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln.

In 1860, due to differences over matters of doctrine, Professor Lars Paul Esbjorn and a group of followers moved to Chicago and established the Augustana College and Seminary with Esbjorn as first president. The College has chosen to mark this institution as its beginning.

The name Augustana is drawn from the origin of the Lutheran Church in the Augsburg Confession in 1530 during the time of the Reformation. The Latin designation of this document was the Confessio Augustana.

Following the Civil War, the fledgling College was caught up in the westward movement of pioneers. The school moved with its constituents to Paxton, Illinois, in 1863; then in succession to Marshall, Wisconsin, in 1869; to Beloit, Wisconsin, in 1881; and to Canton, South Dakota, in 1884.

In 1918, following the union of three Lutheran synods, the College was moved to Sioux Falls where it merged with the Lutheran Normal School to form the present institution.

Twenty-two presidents have served Augustana since its founding: Lars Esbjorn (1860-1863); T.N. Hasselquist (1863-1869); August Weenaas (1869-1870); J. Anderson (1870-1876); David Lysnes (1876-1884); M.D. Miller (1884-1889); C.S. Salveson (1889-1890); Anthony G. Tuve (1890-1916); P.M. Glasoe (1916-1918); H.S. Hilleboe (1918-1920); C.O. Solberg (1920-1928); H.J. Glenn (1928-1929); O.J.H. Preus (1929-1932); C.M. Granskou (1932-1943); Lawrence M. Stavig (1943-1965); Charles L. Balcer (1965-1980); William C. Nelsen (1980-1986); Sidney Rand (1986-1987); and Lloyd Svendsbye (1987-1992); Sidney Rand (1992-1993); Ralph Wagoner (1993-2000); Bruce R. Halverson (2000-2006); Robert C. Oliver (2006 - present).

Augustana College is a College of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The immediate management and control of the College is vested in the Board of Regents elected by the Augustana College Association composed of the congregations of the South Dakota Synod, the Western Iowa Synod, the Southwestern Minnesota Synod, and the Nebraska Synod. The Association is incorporated under the laws of South Dakota.