Bahls shares 2015-2016 plans with faculty, students

President Bahls has shared the draft of his goal for the 2015-2016 year as he takes the next steps towards the Implement Augustana 2020 plan. His plans included platforms for enhancing student resources for better  “career and graduate school successes,” “integrated experiences to facilitate transformative learning” and “affordability and value.”
Bahls said it is an initial draft and no plans are yet finalized.
“The Board of Trustees has actually not seen (the draft) yet,” said Bahls. “I share this with the internal community (faculty and administration) first.”
Bahls said the next steps will be to share the draft with the Student Advisory Council to the president in May, and then he will share the draft with the Board of Trustees.
“The purpose of this is to disclose what we are talking about at the senior level to the Augustana community,” said Bahls. “There are no promises that all of these things will happen; some of these things may be dropped out.”
The first platform discussed was in the area of enhancing student resources.
One of the points the college has expressed interest in is to add a career services professional to the Chicago office who will focus on internships. Bahls said internships are a vital part to a student’s career preparation.
“Sometimes you learn something about a career, and you say, ‘Hey, that really wasn’t that great, I want to try something else.’ Likewise, we find that internships are very impressive to employers,” said Bahls.
Also under the first platform was the idea of adding a masters program to Augustana. The college faculty has recently approved the advancement of initiating plans to add a Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) masters program to Augustana. This is an initial step, and Bahls says there are still many more steps to go.
According to Bahls, the reason the college chose to consider offering a masters program in CSD is because there is a shortage of speech language pathologists in the U.S. This program, which would be open only to Augustana students, would allow students to better qualify for jobs once obtaining the masters degree.
Bahls said a bachelors degree in this field is not enough to qualify for most jobs. The program would also help attract potential students to Augustana.
The next platform, which focuses on finding ways to facilitate transformative learning, mentioned finding a way to connect residential life, athletics, student life and academic affairs so that students have better opportunity to continue learning and growing even outside of the classroom.
“Intentional conversations allow us to build genuine relationships with each other,” said Pareena Lawrence, provost and dean of the college via email. “It seems really simple but the reality is we often stay in our own lanes. Student Life, Academic Affairs, Residential Life, Athletics–yes, once in a while we may switch lanes as needed but if we truly want to help our students make the most of their student learning experiences in a residential liberal arts college and grow and develop intellectually, spiritually and as responsible citizens, we need to come together and very intentionally build and reinforce the integrated Augustana living and learning experience.”
Lawrence said that first step in making this a reality is by working with the faculty.
“We all (faculty, Student Life, Residential Life, Athletics) must communicate with each other and plan and execute the plan together, learn for mistakes and go back and create an even better plan in the next cycle,” said Lawrence.
The third platform discussed focused on affordability and
value.
Bahls said he hopes to see 30-40 new Close the Gap scholarships for the class of 2019. The Close the Gap scholarship is a scholarship where “friends of the college” commit to meet the unmet financial need of 30-40 students over four years.
“The unmet financial need is the difference between Augustana’s net cost, and often there is a $5,000 gap,” said Bahls.
The college also hopes to increase dollars raised by the annual fund by $200,000. According to Sam Schlouch, director of public relations, the current fund is at $2.4 million.
“The goals for next year are a set of goals that put students first,” said Bahls. “How can we provide better outcomes for students? We are really trying to figure out how to keep the cost of this institution balanced with the benefits of this institution.”
Bahls invites the student body to ask questions or make comments to administration if there are areas in the draft that should be included that are not.