President Bahls' First Open Hour Brew Meeting Brings Discussion to Student Body

Thea Gonzales

President Steven Bahls held the first of this year’s out-of-office Brew by the Slough meetings on Thursday, Sept. 8.
The idea of these open office hours started when President Bahls was a dean at law school Capital University in Ohio. Ten years ago, he moved the location out of his office and into Brew by the Slough, which has made the meetings more popular. This is the 14th year of Bahls’ presidency and his Brew meetings, and they have been a valuable method of communicating with the student body ever since then.
“I found the meetings as a great way to hear from students and for me to learn what was on their minds. I travel a lot and teach only occasionally, so my open office hours are important in helping me connect with students by understanding what is on their minds.” President Bahls said.
The meetings are well-attended by a diverse group of the Augustana community, according to President Bahls. Students discussed everything from making decisions about law school to applying to graduate school and creating service projects for their Greek organizations.
Senior Abdul Kader of the fraternity Rho Nu Delta was the first to meet with President Bahls about his ideas to contribute to Alzheimer’s awareness by creating a charity event called Roundel Bash.
Kader found the meeting useful and encourages others to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with President Bahls.
“We discussed some avenues that we could go along to fund our charity. I think these meetings are pretty effective: they really let you talk to the top of administration. Anyone can do it, and it’s just a good way to engage with the school and the president of the school.” Kader said.
Kader’s event is planned for Saturday, Sept. 24 and will include a color run and a concert.
Whether it was in groups or individually, students met with the president one after another, leaving little to no time gaps in between each other. Many offered ideas to make the campus better, and President Bahls said that these meetings have offered insight for administration to continually improve the college. 
“There are usually one or two ‘action items’ coming out of each open office hour.  So, for example, a few years ago students expressed concerns about advising.  Working with the Provost office and faculty, we made efforts to improve advising.  Last year we developed an important diversity and inclusion statement, after I listened to concerns of students. Augie Choice was conceived by a student and I used my open office hours to get student ideas on how to make Augie Choice a great program,” Bahls said.
First-year Erin Cygan feels that other first year students may not come to these meetings initially because they don’t know the president well enough to speak with him but acknowledges that this is an opportunity students at bigger universities might not get and hopes to meet with him one day in the future.
“As first years, we haven’t had a lot of interaction with him yet besides for opening convocation. I personally would feel a bit intimidated to meet President Bahls as I would have no idea what to say or how to even start the conversation. It would be interesting to have a one-on-one conversation with a college president: an opportunity that people at larger colleges probably do not get,” Cygan said.
The next scheduled meetings will take place once every month from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 19, Dec. 6, Jan. 17, Feb. 8, Mar. 16, Apr. 13, and May 9.