Stephanie Herseth Sandlin serves as the 24th president of Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota — the first woman to lead the university since it was established 162 years ago. As a result of her leadership, the university developed and is implementing its transformational Viking Bold: The Journey to 2030 strategic plan — supported by the largest and most comprehensive campaign in Augustana’s history.
Among the key accomplishments celebrated in phase I of Augustana’s Viking Bold journey are:
- the implementation of a new governance model for the change in academic structure, which includes the College of Arts & Sciences, Sharon Lust School of Education and Schools of Business, Health Professions and Music;
- the creation of the multimedia entrepreneurship major and construction of the Midco Media Center; the launch of the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Science in nursing (MSN) and post-graduate certificate programs, and Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program (June 2023), as well as new undergraduate programs in environmental studies, medical humanities & society, brewing & fermentation and neuroscience;
- the fourth largest student body in the university’s history, the second largest class of full-time, first-year students, and a record number of international students;
- a well-developed Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Plan which has sparked a number of new initiatives, including a Diversity Advocate Certification Program for faculty, students and staff, as well as Impact Scholarships, which provide annual scholarship support to students with great financial need;
- the announcement of the Viking Men’s Hockey Program, which will compete at the NCAA Division I level — supported by the largest gift in AU’s history; the addition of Division II men’s swimming & diving, women’s diving, and acrobatics & tumbling;
- the renovation of the Fryxell Humanities Center, the construction of Midco Arena, the dedication of Ralph H. Wagoner Hall, and the redesign of the campus green.
Herseth Sandlin graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown University, and cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center. Called to public service, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004, where she went on to serve four terms. She was the first woman elected to the U.S. House from South Dakota and the youngest woman serving in Congress during that time.
Following her time in Congress, Herseth Sandlin became a partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm and later joined Raven Industries in Sioux Falls, as the company’s first general counsel and vice president of corporate development.
Herseth Sandlin is celebrated for her leadership in the advancement of women as well as her policy work centered on agriculture, renewable energy, veterans’ education and tribal affairs. She was named to TIME’s “40 Under 40” list of New Civic Leaders in 2010, inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2017, and in August of 2020, named to USA Today Network’s select list of “Women of the Century,” in recognition of her significant contributions to the state of South Dakota and the country. She was elected to serve as president and executive committee chair of the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities (NECU) for 2023.
Herseth Sandlin is married to former Texas Congressman Max Sandlin, an attorney and former Chairman of the Board of Feeding South Dakota. She and Max live in Sioux Falls with their sons, Christian and Zachary. Their other children and eight grandchildren reside in East Texas and Louisiana.