University President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin updated students, faculty and staff on the Vision 2030 plan on Tuesday morning. She covered progress in academics, enrollment, strategic scholarships, athletics, physical campus and information technology, each with specific goals outlined in three phases for the next 10 years.
Some of these goals include establishing new academic programs grounded in liberal arts, enrolling 3,000 total students, making Augustana education more affordable, transitioning to NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics and transforming the university into a digital campus.
Herseth Sandlin said Vision 2030 is Augustana’s largest, most comprehensive campaign the university has ever undergone and thanked all those working together to make strides forward.
With that said, Herseth Sandlin provided a more detailed look at specific goals for implementing aspects of the plan, starting with academics.
Herseth Sandlin cited Augustana as far ahead of the national average of students who study abroad. Part of the 2030 goal is to continue this tradition, she said, which had over 50% of the student body studying abroad in the 2019-2020 school year.
“We know how important these experiences are,” Herseth Sandlin said.
Herseth Sandlin also said the university will create more pathway programs to welcome exchange students to campus.
Augustana has recently expanded its domestic outreach, including The Center for Excellence and Teaching’s peer mentoring program — a new Twin Cities business advisory network that is connecting the university with St. Paul alumni. Augustana has also expanded its master’s programs in recent years, which has included the addition of a new faculty member for the growing M.A. programs in business, accounting and sports management. The first wave of students in these programs will graduate this spring.
“The ground is shaking under us because of the disruption occurring in higher education,” Herseth Sandlin said, referencing the sudden closure of Concordia Portland University, a private Lutheran university comparable to the size of Augustana.
According to Herseth Sandlin, Augustana has found reductions in the annual operating budget, totalling $900,000 so far. Herseth Sandlin expressed her gratitude for the willingness of faculty and staff to do more so that students don’t feel the pressure of this reduction.
“This is what Augustana is about — tightening our belts and making it happen,” Karie Frank, humanities division coordinator, said. We’re planning for the future for the students.”
The president followed this by addressing the recent decision to raise tuition. “We know that this will impose hardships on some of our students,” she said. “We need to continue to work with them and support them.”
Herseth Sandlin then pivoted to the university’s attempt to “cultivate greater community collaboration” through the new outdoor campus, diversity advocate training program and Augie chats, a monthly conversation table centered around a topic of interest facilitated by the Office of the President.
“We are too small to afford to be siloed,” Herseth Sandlin said. “We need to find partners across campus.”
She later emphasized a push toward integration on campus through the new organizational structure released in December. This structure change included reworking the core curriculum and creating a new Office of Graduate and Continuing Education, which instated Jerry Jorgensen as associate vice president.
A newly developed operationalization of the Vision 2030 plan was also revealed, which breaks down the goals into individual departments and phases. The spreadsheets detailing the goals and timelines will be made available to the university at a later date.
In an overview of the plan, Herseth Sandlin highlighted the addition of a medical humanities, environmental studies, intercultural studies and the expansion of graduate studies, including physical therapy and nursing.
Other goals are to continue working toward stabilizing undergraduate enrollment and enhancing brand awareness through predictive analytics. Herseth Sandlin finished by highlighting achievements in athletics and the plan to adopt Canvas as an online learning center.
After the briefing, ASA Vice President Audrey Cope said she’s excited about how student-oriented the university is moving forward with Vision 2030.
“You can tell they have genuine intentions of implementing [Vision 2030],” she said. “Not only is the president passionate in laying it all out, but it’s really exciting that students will be stakeholders.”