Oliver Appointed to Second Term as Augustana President
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
“Rob’s passion for Augustana is unmatched. He absolutely believes in the vision of this institution and is committed to doing all he can to support our mission of providing students with the education they need in order to make tomorrow’s world even better than today’s,” said John Thomas, chair of the Board of Trustees.
“In addition to his passion, Rob has an impressive grasp on the issues, trends and challenges associated with higher education today. His understanding of the industry’s complexities – coupled with his proven ability to work with, lead and inspire our campus community – makes him a tremendous asset to the College.”
“Rob’s also done an exceptional job leading the College during a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty and volatility. With more than 27 years of experience in the financial services industry, his knowledge and understanding of operations and management are simply invaluable.”
“Under Rob’s leadership, Augustana has accomplished so much. Yet, the entire Board feels that the College has even more exciting opportunities to grow and serve students and the broader region into the future.”
Oliver was named Augustana’s 23rd president in 2006. During his tenure, Augustana has made significant strides in enrollment, endowment growth and enhancements to its facilities.
During the 2006-07 academic year when Oliver assumed his post, the College’s full-time enrollment was 1,650. In Fall 2011, Augustana reported 1,750 full time students and 1,870 total students (including part-time and graduate students). Also in 2011, the College reported its largest-ever class of incoming international students. Today, 96 international students are studying on campus – up nearly 32 percent from Fall 2010 and more than double the number of international students on campus during the 2009-10 academic year.
During the last fiscal year, Augustana’s endowment grew to $56 million and the College received more than $7.5 million in cash gifts. Its annual giving totaled $1.6 million, including $855,000 in unrestricted annual giving – the second highest unrestricted annual giving total in College history.
Earlier this year, the College also surpassed the halfway point on its $120 million Momentum Augustana Campaign, the fund-raising initiative that will support the planned renovation and expansion of the Gilbert Science Complex. Most recently, the College received a $1.25 million anonymous gift in support of planning and early design work for the new science laboratories.
Under Oliver’s watch, Augustana’s campus has undergone significant enhancements:
- In 2006, the 24,000-foot Center for Visual Arts was dedicated.
- Following a $6 million anonymous gift in 2007, the Mikkelsen Library underwent a $7 million renovation. Since the renovation, Library resources have grown by 20 percent and Library officials have seen student usage of the facility increase by 50 percent.
- In 2009, Kirkeby-Over Stadium held its first Viking football game before a crowd of more than 6,000 fans. The $11 million facility was made possible by a lead gift of $6.1 million from Bob and Kari Hall in 2007.
- In 2007, Viking tennis returned to campus thanks to a lead gift by Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether and his wife, Cindy, to support construction of the Huether Tennis Centre. Recently, a gift from Kent and Judy Morstad resulted in the naming of Morstad Field, the Vikings' home for soccer. Augustana hopes to soon begin construction of the Larson Track & Field facility, thanks to the lead gift from Augustana alumna Linda Larson.
- More than $3 million have been invested in Augustana's residence halls, improving fire safety, building infrastructure, and enhancing the student experience with flexible furnishings and updated aesthetics. This multi-year project is expected to continue with further improvements to college-owned housing for students.
During Oliver’s tenure, students have continued to give Augustana high marks for its academic rigor and its high-caliber professors.
According to students surveyed in Spring 2010, 89.1 percent agreed that their courses were intellectually challenging; 90.6 percent agreed that their instructors were enthusiastic (of those, 62.9 percent strongly agreed); and 84.7 percent agreed that their teachers were "excellent." Augustana boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1 and more than 80 percent of Augustana's full-time tenured and tenure-track professors hold the highest degree in their field.
Despite the challenging economic environment, job placement rates for Augustana graduates have also remained high. Ninety-four percent of 2010 Augustana graduates seeking employment had accepted a position related to their major or chosen field within nine months of graduation. Of those, 68 percent chose to work in South Dakota, serving as contributors to the state’s intellectual capital.
In 2007, Oliver also led the development of Augustana’s Strategic Plan, a set of goals and guiding principles that align with the College’s mission and core values. Among the Plan’s objectives are to:
- Engage students in learning as the first and most fundamental task of the College.
- Enhance the distinctive features of an Augustana education.
- Integrate intentionally faith and learning in the life of the College.
- Expand educational opportunities.
- Intensify relationships with constituent groups.
- Continue to build and strengthen the culture which focuses on providing a substantive and creative learning experience for all.
- Ensure fiscal stability and resource stewardship to support the mission of the College.
- Celebrate the joy of Augustana.
In recent years, the College has also garnered significant recognition for its work from national publications that track higher education:
- Ranked No. 212 of 650 colleges and universities nationwide in Forbes’ annual “America’s Top Colleges” rankings. The top colleges are chosen by Forbes from nearly 4,000 colleges and universities nationwide.
- Ranked among the top-10 U.S. baccalaureate colleges by Washington Monthly for its efforts to advance social mobility, research and service.
- Consistently identified as a “Best Midwestern College” by the Princeton Review.
- Annually ranked in the top five “Best Regional Colleges in the Midwest” by U.S. News.
- Listed among the “440 Great Colleges for Top Students” by Peterson’s Guide.
- Named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for supporting volunteerism, service-learning and civic engagement.
- Identified as a “Character Building College” by The Templeton Foundation.
- Named by Harvard Schmarvard as one of America’s top 100 outstanding but under-appreciated colleges.
- Consistently noted for its students’ 90 percent acceptance rate to medical school.
- Recognized for a record-setting number students conducting undergraduate scientific research during summer 2011.
- Listed in the top 10 percent of all NCAA institutions with 28 NCAA Postgraduate Scholars.
- Ranked No. 3 in the nation of 302 NCAA D-II institutions in the 2010-2011 Learfield Rankings.