Augustana College (South Dakota)

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This article is about the college in South Dakota. For other institutions with the same name or other uses of Augustana, see Augustana (disambiguation).
Augustana College
Ole, Augustana's mascot.
Motto Verbum Dei manet in aeternum
Motto in English
The Word of God endures forever
Established 1860[1]
Type Private
Affiliation Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Endowment USD $56.3 million[2]
President Robert C. Oliver
Dean Susan S. Hasseler[3]
Academic staff
134 [4]
Students 1,850 [4]
Location United States Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States
43°31′36.7″N 96°44′13.3″W / 43.526861°N 96.737028°W / 43.526861; -96.737028Coordinates: 43°31′36.7″N 96°44′13.3″W / 43.526861°N 96.737028°W / 43.526861; -96.737028
Campus Urban
100 acres (40 ha)
Newspaper The Mirror
Colors Navy blue ‹See Tfm›     and gold ‹See Tfm›    
Athletics Baseball, Basketbal, Football, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball, Softball, Golf, Wrestling, Track and Field, Cross Country
Nickname Vikings
Mascot Ole the Viking
Affiliations NSIC
Augustana College Logo

Augustana College is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the school is the largest private university in the state.[5] The institution derives its name from the Confessio Augustana, or Augsburg Confession, a foundational document of Lutheranism. Students, alumni, friends, employees, and those who know the college casually refer to it as “Augie.”

Originally named The Lutheran Normal School and designated for the purpose of educating teachers, the college received its current name in 1918 after merging with Augustana College in Canton. However, the college identifies its founding year as 1860, the same as its identically-named sister-school in Rock Island, Illinois. Consequentially, it celebrated its sesquicentennial during the 2010-2011 academic year.

Currently, Augustana offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in more than 50 major fields of study, as well as several pre-professional programs, most notably nursing. Students also participate in multiple musical ensembles and NCAA athletic programs. The college consistently receives high rankings among other Midwestern schools from publications such as The Princeton Review and U.S. News and World Report.


The institution traces its origin to 1835 when Scandinavian immigrants established the Hillsboro Academy in Hillsboro, Illinois, with the name changing to The Literary and Theological Institute of the Lutheran Church of the Far West in 1846. The school later moved to Springfield, Illinois under the name Illinois State University. In 1860 Professor Lars Paul Esbjörn and a group of followers moved to Chicago over differences in matters of doctrine. There they established The Augustana College and Seminary, marking the date that the college identifies as the year of its founding.

As the United States expanded westward during and after the American Civil War, pioneers moved the school to Paxton, Illinois in 1863. There, a split occurred: the Norwegian leadership relocated to Marshall, Wisconsin in 1869, while the Swedes later moved to Rock Island, Illinois, where an identically named school has existed ever since. The school at Marshall moved to Beloit, Iowa in 1881, and then to Canton, South Dakota in 1888.

The Lutheran Normal School opened in 1889 in Sioux Falls, SD, housed in what is now known as Old Main, with the purpose of educating teachers. But synod officials felt it unwise fiscally having two institutions so close together, the college in Canton only roughly 20 miles (32 km) away. Thus in 1918 the Lutheran Normal School and Augustana College in Canton merged under the name Augustana College and Normal School, located in Sioux Falls. In 1926, "and Normal School" was dropped from the name and the site in Canton eventually became Augustana Academy. Despite the similarities in name, the Academy was no longer affiliated with the College and ultimately closed in 1971. The 2010-2011 academic year marks Augustana College’s sesquicentennial.[1]

Augustana draws its name from the origin of the Lutheran Church in the Augsburg Confession, written in 1530 during the Protestant Reformation. "Augustana" stems from the document's Latin name, Confessio Augustana.


Augustana College, as an undergraduate liberal arts school, grants four-year Bachelor of Arts degrees to its students. The school offers 53 majors, 34 minors, and 12 pre-professional programs[6] within a 4-1-4 academic calendar. The top five most popular majors are nursing, biology, business administration, elementary education and psychology.[7]

Augustana's stated academic goals are to "promote sensitivity to and appreciation of values essential for students to become effective citizens in local, national and international communities."[8] Central to these goals are five core values—Christian, Liberal Arts, Excellence, Community and Service—that serve as the foundation for the College’s academic and student life programs.[9]

The college's curriculum is based on a calendar divided into two 15 week semesters, separated by an interim period of four weeks during January, as well as an optional summer term of eight weeks. Classes may be taken during the month of January. The school offers a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio, notable members including L. Adrien Hannus and Robert E. Wright.

Graduation requires completion of 124 total credit hours, 59 of which are general education courses, with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0. "The Augustana Plan," the name of the 59 credit core curriculum, is "designed to develop articulate communicators, competent writers, creative thinkers, skilled problem solvers, and ethically minded, responsible citizens of the world."[10] Extensive internship, study-abroad, undergraduate research and Civitas, the college’s honors program, supplement the curriculum. Between 2007 and 2008, 285 students participated in an international educational experience, and 44% of students study abroad before graduation.[7]

US News & World Report values Augustana's financial endowment at $53.3 million.[11] Donations have allowed the school to expand its academic facilities, such as the recent $7 million renovation of the Mikkelsen Library[12] and the planned $45 million reconstruction of the Gilbert Science Complex.[13]

Augustana hosts the Center for Western Studies, a library, repository for special collections of art and artifacts, and academic publisher.[14] The center holds an annual Dakota Conference on the Northern Plains for history, literature, art, and archaeology. It is "the largest annual humanities conference specifically about the Northern Plains." The center also hosts a forum on public affairs,[15] and shows and galleries of Western, Scandinavian, and Native American art.[16]

Admissions and rankings[edit]

Augustana's student body consists of 1,820 undergraduates, 1,694 of whom are full-time students and 126 part-time.[7] For the class of 2011, out of an applicant pool of 1,353, Augustana accepted 83%; of the 1,105 that enrolled, 63% were female.[17] US News & World Report classifies Augustana as a "more selective" school,[11] with 62% of the students enrolled having graduated from high school in the top quartile of their class, the average GPA being 3.6.[7] 3% of first-year students submitted SAT scores, with the middle 50% range for the mathematical and critical reading components being 530-630 and 490-640, respectively. ACT test score submissions had a 22-27 middle 50% range, with an average ACT composite score of 25.[18] The school's retention rate of freshmen returning as sophomores is 86%.[19]

Those enrolled are primarily from South Dakota (42%) and Minnesota (34%), followed by Iowa (12%) and Nebraska (4%).[20][21] In the fall of the 2010-2011 academic year, Augustana reported its largest ever incoming class of international students. Fifty-four new students representing 20 countries and 5 continents joined 25 continuing international students for a total of 79 international students from 23 countries, making up about 4.5% of the student body.[22] Although only 46% of students claim a preference for the school's Lutheran religious affiliation, the school is nevertheless composed primarily of students following another Christian denomination, Catholicism being the second largest at 21%; 22% of students, meanwhile, are categorized under "other."[7]

In the 2009 U.S. News & World Report ranking of Midwestern colleges, Augustana placed third, and has, for the last consecutive 13 years, been labeled a top tier baccalaureate college.[11] The publication additionally named it a "Best Buy" school, the award based on academic quality in relation to attendance costs. The Princeton Review called Augustana a "Best Midwestern College." Peterson’s 440 Colleges for Top Students featured Augustana, and Harvard Schmarvard: Getting Beyond the Ivy League to the College That is Best for You listed the school as one of its “top 100 outstanding (but under-appreciated) colleges."[23] The Templeton Guide selected Augustana as one of 100 select colleges and universities nationwide as part of its "Templeton Honor Roll."


Replica of Michelangelo's Moses at Augustana College

The Augustana Choir and Concert Band tour widely nationally and internationally. Augustana's concert band toured the People's Republic of China three times (1999, 2003, and 2007),[24] and the Augustana Choir toured in the African nation of Tanzania in 2006. The choir toured Italy in the summer of 2008 and had a special performance at St. Peter's Basilica during a Saturday evening Mass.[25]

The Augustana College Theatre Company presents several main-stage shows each year, one of which is a musical, as well as several student produced shows by the Augustana College Theatrical Society.[26] The department furthermore serves as home to the Claire Donaldson New Play Festival (previously called the 8-in-48 Claire Donaldson Short Play Festival), which occurs every other year.[27] Augustana is one of the few schools in America to house its own student-run improvisational theater groups. One example is BNi (or Brand Name Improv), specializing in short-form improvisation. Improv remains a vital part of the Augustana campus with other improvisation groups such as GoldMilk Favorites, who specialize in long-form improvised musicals. Other improvisation groups have cropped up over the years, including Suspiciously Delicious, Fuzzy Mulligan, and the all-female group Sibyl. On alternation years the college hosts the Cool Hip Awesome Improv Festival (or CHAI Fest) which has featured well known improv groups such as The Upright Citizens Brigade and Improv88.

In 2006, the new Center for Visual Arts replaced the old art department buildings, previously used as WWII barracks. It holds artist/professor studios, studio classrooms for design, drawing, printmaking, painting, sculpture, ceramics, and an art education lab, as well as the new Eide-Dalrymple gallery, which hosts several art exhibitions throughout the year. Noted artists and past professors from the art department include Ogden Dalrymple, Palmer Eide, Robert Aldern, and Carl Grupp. Full-time staff include Dan Workman & RJ Fitzsimmons.


Augustana's honors program, Civitas, is directed by English professor Jeffrey Miller.[28] Planning for Civitas began in 2005 in response to faculty desires to see an honors program similar to those offered at other colleges.[29] Civitas, a Latin word meaning "citizenship," highlights the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who acted as a founding member of the Confessing Church and a participant in the German Resistance movement against Nazism. "The Structure of Responsible Life," an essay written by Bonhoeffer, serves as the central focus of the program.[30]

Emphasizing Stellvertretung (roughly translated as "vicarious representative action"), Bonhoeffer participated in the Abwehr plot to assassinate Hitler, and subsequently wrote the piece as a justification for his actions. Students examine his work in classes specifically designated for Civitas and in special honors sections of existing courses. 40 students are selected from each graduating class, of whom must maintain at minimum a 3.0 GPA,[28] with entrance priority going to incoming students who possess an ACT score of at least 27 and a 3.5 cumulative high school GPA.[30]

Natural Sciences[edit]

Along with the opportunity of BRIN grants, Augustana College received a pledge of $2.6 million over five years from the National Institute of Health.[31] An average of 90% of graduating seniors seeking admission into medical school have been accepted over the last three years, double the national acceptance rate, and the school claims a consistent 100% placement record of nursing graduates.[13]

Construction began on the new Froiland Science Complex in August of 2014. The Froiland Science Complex is a renovation to the current Gilbert Science Center (GSC) as well as an addition. The GSC is currently in the shape of the letter L. The addition of Froiland Science Complex will close the L into the shape of a triangle, creating a courtyard in the center.


Kirkeby–Over Stadium, seats over 6,500 fans

The Augustana Vikings currently participate in NCAA Division II athletics in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The Vikings joined the NSIC from the North Central Conference, which folded in 2008. In 2004-2005, Augustana wrestlers finished second in the NCAA Division II championship, the wrestlers also took second in the NCAA Division II championship in 2009-2010. The Elmen Center serves as the home court for the men's and women's basketball teams, the volleyball team, and wrestling team.


The college used to operate a radio station, 89.1 FM KAUR, which broadcast 24 hours per day.

Up until 2009, KAUR specialized in independent or college rock and also broadcast regular Alternative, Blues/Jazz, Folk, Spanish Traditional, Hip-Hop, and Hardcore/Metal shows. KAUR offered a variety ranging from jazz and folk to rap and regional South Dakota musicians. KAUR was founded in 1972 and Augustana College also once managed a self-constructed AM station, which, itself, was founded in 1945.

In the spring of 2009, administrators at Augustana College decided to discontinue KAUR's student operations in favor of broadcasting Minnesota Public Radio News (in lieu of alternative suggestions). The station left the air for a week before returning on September 15, 2009, with the new MPR format. Augustana College continues to own the station while MPR provides programming, maintenance, and funding for the regular operation of the station. The students assigned to operate KAUR for the 2009-2010 academic year, as part of the federal work-study program, were forcibly reassigned to other departments. The college had also received proposals from a number of other parties, including religious and ethnic interests, as well as a non-profit proposal which would have continued the student-run scheme.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Augustana History". Augustana College. Retrieved July 8, 2009. 
  2. ^ As of July 31, 2011."Augustana College 2010-11 Annual Report" (PDF). 2010-11 Annual Report. Augustana College. Retrieved April 4, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Hasseler Named Senior VP for Academic Affairs, Dean of the College". Augustana College. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Quick Facts". Augustana College. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Doing Business in South Dakota (Public Universities)". Governor's Office of Economic Development. Retrieved November 26, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Areas of Study". Augustana College. Retrieved November 9, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Beyond the Rankings". Augustana College. Retrieved November 9, 2010. 
  8. ^ About Augustana. Augustana College. Retrieved on July 8, 2009.
  9. ^ Mission, Values and Vision. Augustana College. Retrieved on November 9, 2010.
  10. ^ General Education Requirements. Augustana College. Retrieved on November 9, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c "Best Colleges | College Rankings | US News Education". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  12. ^ Momentum Augustana. Augustana College. Retrieved on July 12, 2009.
  13. ^ a b Building the Sciences. Augustana College. Retrieved on November, 2010.
  14. ^ "Center for Western Studies". Augustana College. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Center for Western Studies". South Dakota State Historical Society. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 
  16. ^ Olson, Virginia (February 20, 2015). "Whatever Happened To: The Savages". Argus Leader. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Augustana College, South Dakota". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  18. ^ "Augustana College Admissions Information - CollegeData College Profile". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  19. ^ College Search - Augustana College. CollegeBoard. Retrieved on July 9, 2009.
  20. ^ Augustana Student Profile. Augustana College. Retrieved on July 9, 2009.
  21. ^ Cappex Profile - Augustana College. Cappex. Retrieved on July 9, 2009.
  22. ^ "Augustana Reports Largest Number of International Students". Augustana College. Archived from the original on 20 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  23. ^ "Academics". Augustana College. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  24. ^ "The Augustana Band". Augustana College. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  25. ^ "The Augustana Choir". Augustana College. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Theatre Performances". Augustana College. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  27. ^ "March 30-31: New Play Festival". Augustana College. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b Civitas (Honors Program). Augustana College. Retrieved on March 24, 2010.
  29. ^ Wendt, Megan (11 March 2010). "First Civitas students graduate early". Augustana Mirror (Sioux Falls). 
  30. ^ a b Civitas—Frequently Asked Questions. Augustana College. Retrieved on March 24, 2010.
  31. ^

External links[edit]