On Feb. 23, 2017, Augustana University introduced former congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin as its 24th president.
The appointment, made by the Augustana Board of Trustees following an extensive national search, marked the first time in Augustana’s 157-year history that a woman will serve as president.
Prior to joining Augustana, Herseth Sandlin served as general counsel and vice president of corporate development for Raven Industries in Sioux Falls. Prior to that, she served as South Dakota’s lone U.S. Representative from 2004-11. When elected in 2004, she was the first woman from South Dakota to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the youngest woman serving in the House during that time.
Becky Blue ’81, chair of the Presidential Search Committee, called Herseth Sandlin a “respected and visionary leader. She is a locally-grown, nationally-known pioneer with a fervent drive to bring good ideas, opportunity and possibility to the state of South Dakota and beyond. She is a skilled diplomat who has vast experience working with a variety of constituents on a variety of issues."
“In searching for Augustana’s 24th president, we sought a leader of both people and institutions — someone with a demonstrated track record for building and strengthening bridges between people, policies and programs; an individual who could not only understand the complexities of higher education, but would embrace them. We sought a creative thinker who would continue to champion the liberal arts in collaboration with new technologies, strategic partnerships, new and innovative academic programming, research and entrepreneurism — while also ensuring the University’s continued commitment to its Lutheran heritage and its core values.
We have found all that — and more — in Stephanie Herseth Sandlin."
— Becky Blue '81
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
“Stephanie has spent the last two decades working to build a better South Dakota, a better region, and a better world — first as a congresswoman and, most recently, as general counsel for Raven Industries, a Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based business that holds place among the city’s major employers. Having served as the elected voice for more than 800,000 South Dakotans, Stephanie knows and understands that the greatest leaders are first and foremost effective communicators — individuals who listen first, then make decisions. At Raven, she further established her impressive business acumen — building a new legal department, strengthening governance practices and helping to lead a major acquisition. Her leadership experience, her time abroad — both as a student and as a professional, her enthusiasm for the liberal arts, her love for the great state of South Dakota, and her passion for possibility make Stephanie well-equipped to lead Augustana. We are certain that she will build on the firm foundation established by President Rob Oliver and the exciting momentum alive on campus today and will no doubt take AU to new heights in the future.
“We were impressed by her sense of calling for the work ahead and we know that she will lead from her foundation of faith and community that was built right here in South Dakota. She is simply an inspiring individual who will be a transformational leader for Augustana University," Blue said.
Herseth Sandlin said the opportunity to serve Augustana is both exciting and humbling.
“I am very grateful for and humbled by the opportunity to lead Augustana, and I thank the Board of Trustees for entrusting me with the responsibilities of this position. The mission of the university, its traditions and its plans for the future are inspiring, and I look forward to joining a campus community dedicated to helping students be servant leaders and engaged citizens,” Herseth Sandlin said.
Herseth Sandlin assumed office Aug. 1, 2017, succeeding President Rob Oliver, who announced his plans to retire last fall after more than 25 years of service to Augustana.