Herseth Sandlin’s inauguration to be week-long celebration
Students returning in the fall will be greeted to a “once in a lifetime opportunity:” the inauguration of Augustana’s first female president, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.
A week of events will be held in celebration of Augustana’s history and community, culminating in the inauguration of Herseth Sandlin.
The inauguration week will begin September 10 with “Augustana Sunday,” featuring services at local churches connected to Augustana. On Friday, September 15, Herseth Sandlin will be formally inaugurated as Augustana University president. The week will conclude the next day with an inaugural ball, held at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.
The week will present events for students, faculty and alumni designed “to connect the community with Stephanie personally,” according to Emily Sievers, chair of the inauguration planning committee.
These connections come with some traditional events, such as the convocation and a dinner with students planned for Wednesday, September 13, but a few new ones specially designed for Herseth Sandlin.
“This year they are really trying to build a week around what Stephanie’s interests are,” said Brad Heegel, administrative director of performing and visual arts. “We always try to personalize it.”
In 2006, outgoing President Rob Oliver’s inauguration featured a “Hogs and Horns” motorcycle rally. Herseth Sandlin’s inauguration will likely include a faculty and student softball game at Karras Park.
Heegel said many previous inaugurations were largely “academic protocol” with little fanfare, but recent inaugurations have become larger events and celebrations.
“It was really when Ralph Wagoner came [in 1993] that we started wrapping these things in a celebration of Augustana,” Heegel said.
Part of this celebration is a faculty symposium on Monday, September 11, where faculty will present some of their research and lectures. Biology professor Paul Egland, who serves on the planning committee, hopes it will offer Herseth Sandlin and students a chance to better understand what professors are working on.
“Like Ole Talks, or something,” Egland said.
A student symposium is also planned with hopes to include work from all academic fields, including art presentations.
“I’ve talked to [art professor Lindsay Twa] about the possibility of a mini-gallery,” Egland said. “We don’t want to leave out any students.”
The committee is searching for other opportunities to include regular events in the inauguration week to accommodate the time constraints. As the week will be overlapping only the second full week of classes, Sievers hopes to include as many groups as possible while avoiding overwhelming returning students early in the semester.
“We’re really trying to tag onto events that are already happening in the fall—chapel services are happening every week, poster presentations from summer research usually happen around this time,” Sievers said. “We are really just trying to be respectful of people’s time.”
While early in the academic year, the committee said the promptness was necessary to avoid conflicts with other major college events.
“We need to schedule around Viking Days, around fall break, there’s a lot of work that goes into a schedule,” Egland said.
Included in the time crunch are the choir, band and orchestra ensembles that will perform at convocation.
“That last week of August through the second [of September] we are just doing auditions, so we won’t have groups together and ready to rehearse until the fifth or the sixth,” Heegel said. “The important thing is the conductors are confident they’ll be able to perform.”
While the three ensembles have collaborated in the past and all three performed separately at the Command Performance, Heegel said convocation “will probably be the first time we’ve seen these three perform together.”
With many groups involved, the committee members hope the events can be a celebration of Augustana and its community.
“Inaugurations only happen around here about once a decade,” Sievers said. “Having students be part of these events is really critical to show [what] this place is and ought to be. We are here for the students.”