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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:
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.
— Develop a Center for Interdisciplinary Programs to coordinate existing and new interdisciplinary offerings.
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.
— 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.
— Create international and domestic partnerships and pathways through strategic and distinctive programs to increase global engagement and recruitment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— 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.
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 infrastructure to include information technology, landscaping and sustainability as well as parking, accessibility and wayfinding to meet the future needs of the university.
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.
— 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.
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 augie.edu/plan.
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.