Augustana board approves next steps in 2030 vision

Dec. 9, 2019

A strategic plan that includes enhancing Augustana University’s standing as a top regional university and a transition to a Division I university has been approved unanimously by the school’s board of trustees.

The plan, Viking Bold: The Journey to 2030, is designed to elevate the school’s national profile amidst “extraordinary change in higher education,” according to the university.

The strategic plan calls on Augustana to develop and deliver “new and bold academic offerings to more students,” said Augustana president Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, as well as:

  • Amplify excellence through the arts and athletics.
  • Enhance intercultural awareness and understanding.
  • Adapt the physical campus and IT infrastructure to inspire and support future generations of Augustana students and the broader community.

The process started a year ago as a set of aspirational goals. Since then, the university has conducted extensive research and analysis to identify how best to reach the goals and objectives outlined in the strategic plan, it said, including engaging a cross-section of faculty, staff, coaches and students, as well as local and national consultants.

While hundreds participated in one way or another, the resulting plan reflects the original vision set forth one year ago, Herseth Sandlin said.

“We asked people to dream big and be bold in offering their ideas and their rationale for why they would offer those ideas,” she said. “It was deliberate. And the depth and breadth of analysis showed, and that’s why we took the time we did.”

One new program, a Master of Business Administration, was immediately developed and will start next fall following strong interest from students, alumni and employers.

“We knew there was great appetite for it,” Herseth Sandlin said. “We moved quickly but still wanted to listen to what students and alumni and some of the larger employers were looking for to differentiate our MBA from others in the market.”

The program’s focus on leadership will be one of its differentiators, she said, including a leadership academy with a mentorship component.

The MBA is one example of the sort of academic additions that Augustana will pursue as part of the strategic plan. Others could include graduate programs in nursing and health sciences as well as a program in biomechanical engineering.

“We are looking to partner and not duplicate. Partner, differentiate and avoid duplication of what’s in the market already,” Herseth Sandlin said.

The strategic plan comprises three phases and will be funded through the university’s largest, most comprehensive campaign. It seeks to raise $175 million over the next seven years to support the first two phases of the plan.

The university did two feasibility studies before settling on the campaign and is in the leadership, or quiet, phase of fundraising. A steering committee was established in recent months and initial response has been strong, Herseth Sandlin said.

“We have a number of people from all over the state, region and country, and certain proposals and discussion have led to securing gifts or pledges contingent on progress toward the goals,” she said. “We’re heartened by the progress.”

Augustana will evaluate its progress after each phase while adding and realigning resources to achieve the following goals. Here’s a look at each goal along with next steps.


Establish new academic structures and centers that sustain excellence, facilitate growth and cultivate innovative and impactful teaching, learning and research in order to provide an education of enduring worth.

Restructure academic programs into a college and schools supported by a governance system that maintains focus on the centrality of the liberal arts while facilitating innovative, efficient program development and administration.


Organize into a College of Arts & Sciences and establish a School of Education and a School of Music. Create a new governance system.


  • Establish a School of Business and a School of Health Sciences.


  • Establish and integrate other schools as appropriate.

— Develop a Center for Interdisciplinary Programs to coordinate existing and new interdisciplinary offerings.


  • Establish the Center within the College of Arts and Sciences and develop Medical Humanities, Environmental Studies, and programs associated with intercultural studies.


  • Develop additional innovative interdisciplinary programs for undergraduate and graduate students (e.g., Art, Music, and Drama Therapies; Arts Administration; Music Business & Technology; Latin American Studies).

Establish new academic programs grounded in the liberal arts that challenge the intellect while responding to the needs and interests of students. These programs will grow enrollment, diversify revenue and address workforce priorities of the local community and region.

— Establish a professional school that is distinctive and responsive to community needs in order to prepare adult learners to lead and serve within a specialized field.


  • Conduct feasibility studies for Optometry, Dentistry, and Aeronautics.


  • Develop a program proposal and establish a new professional school in collaboration with strategic partners.

Develop and market innovative undergraduate and graduate degree programs, responsive to new and emerging student interests and community needs, that build on Augustana’s tradition of excellence in the liberal arts.


  • Establish distinctive undergraduate programs in Biomechanical Engineering and Forensics. Expand graduate programs with distinctive value, to include a Master of Business Administration, Doctor of Physical Therapy, graduate nursing degrees, and occupational therapy.


  • Expand undergraduate and graduate program offerings (e.g., data science/analytics, physician assistant studies, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, public administration, performing and visual arts).

Create international and domestic partnerships and pathways through strategic and distinctive programs to increase global engagement and recruitment.


  • Deepen relationships with schools and tribal colleges in the region as well as existing partnerships with secondary schools and universities in Norway and Asia.


  • Expand relationships with secondary schools and universities in other countries.

Enrollment and strategic scholarships

Enroll 3,000-plus undergraduate and graduate students and provide a welcoming and inclusive environment as different backgrounds, experiences and ways of thinking encourage learning, acceptance and service.


  • Implement a comprehensive student recruitment plan to elevate brand awareness and increase enrollment. Renew and re-envision programs that engage middle school and high school students in the Augustana experience (e.g., camps, international host programs, special course offerings). Continue to promote the Diversity & Inclusion Plan across campus to increase awareness and support of key initiatives in progress.


  • Develop a Center for Intercultural Development. Establish partnerships with organizations and agencies to develop statewide and regional opportunities and certificate programs.

Make an Augustana education more affordable and accessible for more students with innovative scholarship partnerships among alumni and regional organizations while adapting the university business model and operations to ensure financial sustainability.


  • Establish creative scholarship opportunities in addition to more endowed scholarships. Implement an innovative and sustainable pricing model to improve access and affordability. Integrate retention software to assess and monitor students’ academic progress and increase early intervention.


  • Expand alternative revenue opportunities and innovative partnerships through summer offerings and bridge programs.


Recruit and retain exceptional student-athletes to maintain academic and athletic excellence and enhance their collegiate experience through academic and wellness support, community engagement and service opportunities.

Enhance liaison support for student-athletes through the Student Success Center and implement a missed class time policy and summer scheduling options.

Develop a premiere student-athlete health care and performance training model.


  • Centralize and coordinate student-athlete health care and performance training on campus by establishing a formal medical team with Sanford Health.


  • Expand student-athlete performance training tools and systems (e.g., nutrition, staffing, sports psychology).

Transition to NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics to provide student-athletes the opportunity to compete at a higher level, elevate the profile of the university and inspire Sioux Falls to enthusiastically embrace Augustana University as the hometown team by serving the community and integrating our mission with its needs.

Assess university preparedness for Division I and develop plans for staffing, financing, and generating revenue during and after the transition.


  • Secure an invitation to a multi-sport Division I conference. Create staffing plan for athletics administration and coaches and financial pro forma. Develop a plan for revenue generation, including gifts, ticket sales, camps, facility rentals, sponsorships, and private partnerships.


  • Continue to execute the Division I transition plan.

Implement a community engagement plan to strengthen the Augustana brand. Engage alumni and the broader Sioux Falls community in Viking Athletics with signature events and promotions.

Physical campus and information technology

Transform the physical campus to include new and enhanced facilities that serve the educational, spiritual and holistic needs of Augustana’s students, faculty and staff, and inspire others in the community who utilize our campus.

Establish criteria for decision making, setting priorities, and resource allocation to implement a holistic Campus Master Plan to include new and existing buildings – specifically, academic buildings, student housing and recreation, athletics and campus support facilities.

Enhance existing facilities to elevate the student experience, foster invigorating learning environments, meet program needs, and improve space utilization while adding asset value to campus.


  • Enhance campus facilities through new and improved infrastructure, including an improved utility distribution system, enhanced sustainability plan, landscape master plan, and campus heritage plan incorporating a historic preservation management plan.
  • Designate physical spaces across campus, including a multicultural center for activities and dialogue focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Enhance campus infrastructure to include information technology, landscaping and sustainability as well as parking, accessibility and wayfinding to meet the future needs of the university.


  • Implement a mixed-use development on the corner of 33rd Street & Grange Avenue by partnering with the community on services that may include fitness, financial services, retail, healthcare, and educational opportunities.
  • Invigorate the Morrison Commons as a central community hub and student center with expanded dining, study, social and entertainment options.
  • Design modern residence hall expansions and renovation along with innovative neighborhood student housing options.
  • Renovate the Chapel of Reconciliation to enhance natural lighting and technological capacity to support additional programming.
  • Develop new and enhanced recreational and outdoor spaces across campus.
  • Renovate and repurpose Old Main and East Hall to align with programmatic needs and to preserve the heritage of Augustana University.
  • Upgrade, build, and enhance athletics facilities to support all sports programs in compliance with Title IX and Division I needs.

Transform Augustana into a dynamic digital campus through emerging technologies, excellent connectivity and best practices in cybersecurity that serve student learning, enable innovative teaching and research, and support the university’s business processes and overall mission.


  • Create redundant connectivity and implement cybersecurity initiatives.
  • Update IT infrastructure to accommodate increased need for network performance in research, academics, athletics, and business operations through enhanced bandwidth, connectivity, and performance.


  • Update WiFi infrastructure to enable access for new technologies and for saturation of publicly accessible locations.

Foster an innovative teaching environment to include digital and hybrid learning opportunities that improve the access, portability, and real-world application of our academic programs.


  • Establish an IT infrastructure and culture of digital fluency that enhances student learning.
  • Adopt the Canvas learning management system.


  • Continue implementation of digital and hybrid learning opportunities aligned to academic programs.

Phase one goals are scheduled to be rolled out between 2020 and 2022. Now, Augustana will go “department by department” and determine “who owns what objective and how they are resourced in the budget,” Herseth Sandlin said.

Conversations around an eventual Division I transition continue. The approval of a strategic plan is a requirement before a school can be invited to join a conference.

The goal remains to secure an invitation by the end of 2020, Herseth Sandlin said.

“So much of our work over the last 10 months has reinforced our confidence that we can achieve these goals. If you look at trends and trajectory in ways that will matter to a Division I conference, I believe we have a good story to tell that will demonstrate our value,” she said.

“It’s something we will continue to pursue even if we aren’t able to secure that by the end of next year. It doesn’t drop out in any way. The transition to Division I athletics is a goal we feel is achievable for Augustana because of the investments and success we’ve had but also the anticipated growth of Sioux Falls and the extraordinary support Sioux Falls has had for Augustana and its graduates.”

The detailed strategic plan, including goals for each phase, can be found at

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Augustana board approves next steps in 2030 vision

A strategic plan that includes enhancing Augustana University’s standing as a top regional university and a transition to a Division I university has been unanimously approved by the school’s board of trustees. 

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