Augustana’s admissions and financial aid offices are on the move. Starting this summer, the two offices will be relocating to the Sioux Falls Seminary building on the other side of Summit Avenue.
Carol Spillum, associate vice president for finance at Augustana, officially rolled out the intentions to move into the seminary in an email to Augustana employees on April 9. Spillum noted in the email that this marks a new opportunity to welcome prospective students and their families to campus.
The move is part of a longer conversation that has been happening between the two schools going on 15 years, according to Nate Helling, chief financial officer and vice president of operations at the Sioux Falls Seminary. The collaboration isn’t something that’s part of a student or faculty member’s daily life, but Helling and Spillum have been working together since 2006 to find ways for the two schools to partner.
Admissions counselor Haley Elness, who has been spearheading the move on the admissions end, said the two schools found themselves in a “perfect storm”: Augustana needed space, and the Sioux Falls Seminary had it. After using the seminary space during the pandemic for admissions events and meetings, Elness said all parties started to realize how well the collaboration could work.
“It just kind of worked out to where we realized what a great space it was and how well it could work for what our needs are,” Elness said.
The main floor of the building, with the exception of four offices reserved for seminary staff, will house the admissions and financial aid offices. Helling notes that the first floor will feel more like an Augustana space than a Sioux Falls seminary space, with visual upgrades to the area including new furniture, signage and banners, the Augustana logo, and Augustana colors featured throughout.
“It’s important for the space to still feel like you’re part of Augustana,” Elness said.
The building is also undergoing structural changes to accommodate the new offices, including significant wifi upgrades, ID-swipe access and new classroom technology. The spaces in the building will also be booked through Augustana’s conferences and scheduling office.
Another facet of the transition includes the move to a building that is handicap accessible. The current admissions and financial aid offices have stairs down into them from any entrance to the administration building, whereas the seminary sits at ground level. Elness notes that this improvement will be good for both prospective students who are visiting campus and current students who may need to visit the financial aid office.
Day-to-day operations within the admissions office will not change much with the relocation. Elness said the move offers the opportunity to reexamine efficiency within the office, which requires looking at all angles, whether that means creating a new tour route or determining if admissions and financial aid can share a printer.
Cooper Benning, sophomore business communications major and student ambassador, said he was excited about the relocation, including that “a move of this size” could take place during his time at Augustana. He said that while the seminary building offers more space and easier public access, he will miss the current office.
“The current admissions office has a unique environment that embraces the Augustana spirit,” Benning said. “Admissions will do a great job in recreating this space over in the seminary.”
Augustana officials are still working to decide the new occupants of the current admissions and financial aid spaces. Spillum said other offices on campus are “lobbying” for the spaces. Part of this process includes using the conferences and scheduling office to study spaces available on campus and become more intentional about ensuring space is used well. Spillum notes that the process of finding an occupant is happening simultaneously with the transition.
Overall, both Augustana and Sioux Falls Seminary officials said they are looking forward to working together on a project that allows both schools to work better together.
“The type of collaboration that these two schools do together is not common,” Helling said. “It’s a great model of how a stewardship can look if we’re open to collaboration and working together.”
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