President Herseth Sandlin sworn into federal bar, ‘remains committed’ to Augustana for now

Augustana President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin was sworn into the federal bar last week, the Argus Leader reported Monday. In an email to Augustana staff Tuesday night, the president confirmed the story. 

“I was approached about a potential federal judgeship and only recently determined that I should be open to listen, discuss, and discern,” she wrote. “If ultimately nominated and confirmed, this would be an extraordinarily unique form of public service motivated by my love and concern for our country and my respect for our democratic institutions and the rule of law.”

Herseth Sandlin is a graduate of Georgetown Law School and has clerked for a U.S. District Court judge in Pierre and for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Maryland. A former member of the United States House of Representatives, she is one of the most prominent Democrats in South Dakota.

Although no official offer has been made, the Biden administration has been seeking candidates to replace District Court Judge Jeffrey Viken, who will retire in October. Federal District court judges hear civil and criminal cases and receive lifelong tenures. 

As president, Herseth Sandlin has pushed for multiple changes within Augustana. In 2018, she launched Viking Bold, a strategic initiative that included revisions to the core curriculum, efforts to increase enrollment and a transition towards Division I athletics. Herseth Sandlin affirmed her support of the plan in her Tuesday email.

“I continue to believe strongly that the Viking Bold strategic plan will position Augustana exceedingly well for the future and allow us to take full advantage of our strengths.” she wrote. 

In an official statement released by her office on Tuesday, Herseth Sandlin emphasized her current commitment to the Augustana community. 

“Being the president of Augustana University is a calling of tremendous and rewarding responsibility that brings me joy each day, and I am fully committed to the university and working to provide an education of enduring worth to each student that comes through our doors,” she said. 

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