Halfway through her first academic year, President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has enacted revisions to the structure of the previous administration in an ongoing search for “a healthy budget and efficiency.” Along with these changes, two senior leaders announced their resignations, providing Herseth Sandlin more room to reorganize her team before the next strategic plan.
Over January Term, Herseth Sandlin’s senior leadership team announced the elimination of three positions: the associate vice president for communications, the assistant director of online communications and an unfilled associate athletic director position.
Also during J-Term, Bob Preloger, vice president for advancement, announced his retirement and Slade Larscheid decided to step down as director of athletics to spend more time with his family.
“From what we have evaluated, this is an important and strategic move for the fiscal health of the university,” Herseth Sandlin said. “As a new president, this is my opportunity to go deep and understand why certain things are organized the way they are and, historically, how they came to be organized the way they are.”
The responsibilities of the eliminated positions will be shifted to active positions in the advancement and admissions offices, Herseth Sandlin said. Cross-training and diversifying positions are beneficial because they allow employees to take time off during emergencies and smoother transitions if an employee resigns, she said.
She hopes the changes in communication will also increase the university’s responsiveness to prospective students and their families and generate generosity between alumni. She said the changes give the university a fresh start as it gears up for the end of Horizons 2019.
Vice President for Enrollment Nancy Davidson said the new structure will combine aspects of marketing and communications with the admissions team. She said she sees it as a natural reorganization.
“[Communications, marketing and admissions] have already been working together in some aspects,” Davidson said. “So with the change we are just pulling it all together to make sure that we really are focused on prospective students.”
Herseth Sandlin said it is healthy for an institution to revise its structure periodically to ensure efficiency and budget health.
“Sometimes we do things because we have always done them,” she said. “We do not stop to say, ‘Well, should we keep doing this in that way?”
The organizational review is ongoing, Herseth Sandlin said. Her leadership team is focused on finding “silos” in the organizational structure and aligning them with other departments. Her end goal, she said, is flexibility and efficiency.
Preloger concludes a 44-year career in higher education. He served for almost 24 years in a number of administrative positions at Augustana.
Preloger arrived on campus during 1993 as the vice president for enrollment and left in 2004 to assume the vice president position at The Lawlor Group.
In 2006, he returned to campus as vice president for marketing and was promoted vice president for advancement in 2012.
Herseth Sandlin said he will be greatly missed.
“As we all jokingly say,” Herseth Sandlin said, “now Bob can be at all of the events, not wear his name tag and have a great time, and we hope he brings his checkbook. He will continue to be a great resource and soundboard for the university.”
Pam Homan will serve as the interim vice president for advancement until the search for the academic dean and the athletic director conclude. Until then, Herseth Sandlin said she feels Homan is a dedicated and strong fit.
Davidson said Preloger is a dear colleague and mentor and she is disappointed to see him go.
“He loves Augustana,” she said. “He has poured his heart into it. He has so many accomplishments to celebrate, but I am excited for him to be at this point in his life where he can travel and spend time with his family.”
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