Talentino announced as next college president


Chris Ferman

Dr. Andrea Talentino gives a speech after being announced as the next President of Augustana College on Dec. 7, 2021.

Molly Sweeney

On Tuesday, Dec. 7, Augustana College’s ninth president was announced.

Dr. Andrea Talentino, currently the provost of Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y, will begin her presidency at Augustana on July 1, 2022. According to Talentino, she is committed to encouraging and fostering diversity, innovation and post-grad preparedness during her time at Augustana College. 

Talentino will be Augustana College’s first female president. Despite this accomplishment, Talentino said that she does not want her role to be shaped by her gender identity. 

“I don’t necessarily think about myself as a woman leader. I just think of myself as a leader,” Talentino said. 

Dr. Wendy Hilton-Morrow, provost and dean of the college, in agreement with Talentino, said that while she is excited for this opportunity to expand who a president can be at Augustana, Talentino should be judged by her role and accomplishments rather than her gender.  

Lauren Hall, senior, was the student representative on the Presidential Search Committee. While Hall does not believe that students, faculty or staff will judge Talentino’s presidency differently due to her gender, Hall said she believes that Augustana may be run differently because of this change. 

“I think students on campus, especially women, might be a little bit more comfortable advocating for things. I think that it’s very empowering,” Hall said. 

Despite the discourse surrounding this milestone at Augustana, Hilton-Morrow said that Talentino’s background in education aids in her understanding of how curricular decisions are made, how to collaborate with others and how to manage finances at an institution of higher learning.

Talentino draws on a wide set of experiences and job titles, such as department chair, college dean and provost, high school coach and camp counselor administrator. Talentino said that these experiences have helped her develop both leadership skills and strategic vision. 

Despite Talentino’s experiences, she is also committed to discussing the future with the Augustana community and creating strong ties with the surrounding area. 

“I want to support the culture groups, and one of the things I’ll do early on is try and meet with all those student groups to hear about what’s important to them… and how we can strengthen them…” Talentino said. “I always like to start with hearing lots of different perspectives… and bringing together people from a lot of different areas that have connections to it to start wrestling through [issues],”. 

During the interview process, one quality that Hall said she was looking for in the future president was a commitment to students and inclusion. In addition, Hall strongly considered what a candidate had accomplished at their previous institution.

“There was one question in particular where we asked, what would you do or what have you done in hard situations on campus?,” Hall said. “[Talentino] talked a lot about bringing people to campus to talk to the students. She told her students to protest, which no other candidates I think said that.”

A large part of what drew Talentino to Augustana was the community.

“[The community] felt so warm, it felt so right, it felt like it fit me,” Talentino said. “The way [Steve Bahls] talked about the school, it also seemed like it fit with my perspectives and my personality. There wasn’t one big thing, but there were just a lot of little things that when I put them all together, it just seemed great.”

However, Talentino acknowledges that within any community there is always room to grow and improve. 

“You have that brand new Lindbergh center… that’s a potential spot for more programming. Also, really thinking about how you build athletic excellence so that you’re attracting students who want to be a part of that is important,” Talentino said. “I don’t know if this is right, for our standard or not… but there’s an increasing trend toward graduate programming in a lot of institutions.”

Hilton-Morrow said that due to her initial interactions with Talentino, she is hopeful for a smooth transition period within this next year. According to Hilton-Morrow, Talentino is devoted to getting to know the students, faculty and staff at Augustana.

“I think she will become a leader who gets us excited about what we do now and what we might do, how we might change and grow as we need to,” Hilton-Morrow said.

In the future, when Talentino is looking back at her presidency at Augustana, she has several goals that she would like to accomplish. First, she hopes to ensure the strength of the student body and the finances of the school. Secondly, Talentino hopes that graduating students and alumni look back on their experience fondly. 

According to Talentino, a “soft-transition” will begin in the new year with the help of a transition team. Between now and June, Talentino will make several trips to Augustana to work with Steve Bahls, meet the trustees and prepare for her future role as president of the college.