view from summit avenue:
a message from president stephanie herseth sandlin
Filled with hope, opportunity and possibility, it’s no surprise why thousands of students, from near and far, choose Augustana University. They seek the courageous spirit and infectious energy that makes them become lifelong Vikings and call Augustana home. As I begin my second year as president, I am extremely proud and honored to join these students and our alumni, community, faculty and staff in celebration of our spirit and Augustana’s first 100 years in Sioux Falls.
In 1918 upon formal consolidation of Augustana College and the Lutheran Normal School, 195 students were enrolled, students who I’m sure were filled with the same hopes and dreams as our students today. And, if my first year was any indication of things to come, there’s no doubt that together we will seize the opportunities and overcome the challenges of the century ahead.
Augustana University has established a proud foundation. We will continue to attract top students and create tomorrow’s servant leaders and innovators, while instilling our timeless core values that will serve them so well throughout their lives: Christian Faith, Liberal Arts, Excellence, Community, and Service.
With our ongoing commitment and evolution to offer immersive, best-in-class academic, cultural, athletic and social opportunities for students, we’ve generated record-breaking annual enrollment and retention levels. This academic year marks the largest student body since 1978 with 2,118 new and returning students. Our full-time returning students represent 29 states and 36 countries. The number of graduate students is 326 and is expected to grow with the launch of our new graduate programs. On a national scale, Augustana was one of only four institutions in 2018 to receive the Noel-Levitz Retention Excellence Award.
As educators, Augustana remains committed to adding value to every student experience, which is the driving force of every decision we make. It is our commitment to embrace and drive change, continuously working to innovate and improve our programs and services for all students. That has led to enhancements to the physical campus environment with recent renovations to classrooms in the Humanities Building, Hamre Recital Hall, and the future expansion of the Morrison Commons, to create a more holistic student union, the gateway by which most hopeful students enter Augustana University. Athletics is also gearing up for the construction of an outdoor track and field complex, which will be completed next fall.
We also recognize the need to adapt to change in our academic programs without compromising rigor and quality, and to always be current while remaining a university as transformative as the students who represent us in this global climate. This recognition has inspired expansion of our academic offerings, with the recent addition of such degrees as a Master’s in Special Education, and both a Major and Minor in Data Science. We’ve also added a 4+1 option for Sports Administration & Leadership in order to expand access to this graduate program, and we’re prepared this fall to offer a Master’s in Athletic Training.
Attracting the growing volume of students we’ve seen over the past few years has required Augustana to evolve to meet the changing needs of our students and our community. To that end, Augustana received a six-figure grant to help us launch a campus-wide sustainability initiative, including the advancement of a campus-wide strategic plan to integrate sustainability into the curriculum, co-curricular activities, and campus operations.
Our performing and visual arts programs have had an outstanding year. New faculty have reenergized the Augustana Orchestra and the Northlanders Jazz Band with dynamic performances and opportunities for students. With a busy concert season underway, The Augustana Choir presented Christmas Vespers 2018 in both Sioux Falls and Minneapolis in early December. The Augustana Band will go on its fifth Viking Voyage to China in early 2019 for its annual concert and study tour trip and I’m sure it will be a trip of a lifetime for our talented students.
Our student athletes have had a tremendous year! Men’s baseball won their first-ever Division II College World Series National Championship. Women’s basketball earned the 2018 NSIC Tournament title and, for the fourth consecutive season, the team landed inside the top-25 of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Team Honor Roll. Augustana Women’s Golf and Women’s Tennis teams also earned conference titles for the eighth and ninth consecutive years, respectively.
On a personal note, I’m honored and humbled to lead this great institution, and I look forward to the bright future ahead. Go Vikings!
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin