view from summit avenue:
a message from president stephanie herseth sandlin
Dear Vikings near and far,
This fall, I took a walk through Heritage Park, located just across from the Froiland Science Complex on 33rd Street and Prairie Avenue. If you haven’t yet visited this special gem on campus — a place where time and space intersect with history, tradition and culture — I encourage you to do so.
Among the historic buildings at Heritage Park is the writing cabin of Ole Rolvaag, a 1901 graduate of Augustana Academy and author of “Giants in the Earth,” a book that so beautifully captures the stark landscape of the Great Plains that many of our ancestors encountered. Since reading the book nearly 30 years ago, I have never been able to drive anywhere in South Dakota without imagining a vast, rolling ocean of shoulder-high prairie grasses gently brushing against the sky.
Rolvaag was a master at describing the range of emotions experienced by Norwegian immigrants Per and Beret Hansa as their young family charted a course through a prairie sea, navigating uncertainty in the form of blinding blizzards, locust storms, hunger, loneliness and more.
The characters in Rolvaag’s book were the ultimate pioneers — entrepreneurs in pursuit of a dream who were curious about the unknown, passionate in their beliefs, steadfast in their commitment to creating something bigger than themselves, and courageous in the face of adversity. The early settlers of the Great Plains we call home honored tradition while also assuming the great responsibility that comes from sowing the seeds of tomorrow.
As I reflect on my first six months at Augustana, I can’t help but draw comparisons between the spirit of this region’s early pioneers and the spirit I see in the students, faculty, staff and alumni of today’s Augustana community.
It’s a spirit unlike any I’ve ever witnessed before, affirming that what we have here at Augustana is something truly special.
I see it in the Humanities Center — where the words, colors, music, religions, cultures and languages of our globe intersect and inspire our hearts, our minds and our souls, and prepare young people to appreciate diversity, challenge assumptions and communicate creatively their ideas and perspectives.
I see it inside the Froiland Science Complex — home to our superb nursing program, natural science majors and renowned faculty researchers who are pursuing scientific discovery, advances in medicine and improvements to human performance, and health care delivery.
I see it in the Madsen Center — home to history, political science and economics majors who are studying the policies of today in preparation for lives of service tomorrow; education majors who are impacting the lives of children in local schools through student teaching and who are ready to make a difference as trusted professionals in the classroom; and business majors who are already launching entrepreneurial endeavors and contributing incredible talent to employers and communities.
I see it every time I see young men or women in Viking uniforms — giving their all in athletic competition for the team and the university they represent and respect. The same is true for those students who perform in musical ensembles and theatre groups.
I see it in the Chapel of Reconciliation and the Interfaith Reflection Room — treasured places on this campus where one’s faith can deepen, transform and be shared with others.
I believe Augustana represents all that is good in our world today — a community guided by a set of core values where members seek to understand, support, love and care for one another while at the same time working passionately, tirelessly to build a better future.
So how do we take Augustana from being a great place to being one that is even greater? How do we do this amidst significant and accelerated change and also ensure that the core of this extraordinary institution remains true and strong and valued?
I believe the answer lies in our history. I believe we must continue to be pioneers.
We must continue to ask questions, seek answers, explore the unknown, push for progress and break barriers. We must continue to share our discoveries with business and industry so that our communities and neighbors can grow and thrive. We must continue to help our students discern their vocations and build lives of meaning, purpose and service. And we must have courage.
In 2018, as we celebrate 100 years in Sioux Falls since the merger of Augustana College and the Lutheran Normal School, we will also be planning for the Augustana of tomorrow — planning that charts a course for new frontiers in academic and student programs, a renewed commitment to diversity and inclusion, and exciting enhancements to campus facilities, the first being the new Larson Track & Field Complex, details of which are included in this issue.
As we plan for the future, I’m hopeful you will keep Augustana in your thoughts and prayers; that you will share the Augustana story with those you know and care about; and that you will invest in our mission to provide students with an education of enduring worth that challenges the intellect, fosters integrity and integrates faith with learning and service.
And, as you reflect on how your Augustana experience helped shape you into the person you are today, I’m also hopeful you’ll share with me your thoughts and ideas for the Augustana of tomorrow. I’d love to hear from you!
Yours, for Augustana,
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin