Talentino transition team expect smooth road ahead


Chris Ferman

Current President of Augustana Steve Bahls begins Talentino’s announcemnt ceremony at Lindberg Center on Dec. 7, 2021.

Feven Zewdu

After 20 years, Augustana College will appoint a new president. On July 1, 2022, Dr. Andrea Talentino will officially be in the President’s office. Talentino will be Augustana’s ninth college president in the college’s 161 year history. 

As President Steven Bahls’ time is coming to a close, Bahls is looking towards the upcoming transition period. According to Bahls, this will be a time for Augustana to grow and move forward. 

“Transition times are exciting for the community because it’s a transition time when Augustana and the community ask ‘what’s the next step?’ But I just think next year is going to be a very exciting year as the college engages in strategic planning,” Bahls said.

In order to make this transition effective, there is a board of trustees appointed to help better acquaint Talentino to her new role. 

Executive Vice President of External Relations Kent Barnds said that The Chairman of the Board of Trustees John Murabito has appointed a transition team to ensure that the change occurs smoothly and that any challenge that arises will be met by a diverse group of people.

“[The transition team] includes trustees, administrators and faculty to interface with Dr. Talentino,” Barnds said. “The challenges have been quite minimal because the board has been so thoughtful about putting structures in place to support Andrea and to ease the transition overall.”

This committee is set up to connect Talentino with the resources she will need during this transition.

Sam Schlouch, assistant vice president of institutional advancement, said that a goal of the committee is to create a group of people with differing perspectives. This will help the committee have a wide range of ideas and solutions to issues that come up.

“Any transition can be tricky, which is why we are doing a really good job of trying to have a diverse cross section of people assisting with the transition,” Schlouch said.

President Bahls said he believes Talentino will bring new ideas and traditions to Augustana. According to Bahls, neither he nor Talentino were taught at Augustana, which will help with a new perspective on what the college may need.

“That was kind of the tradition of liberal arts colleges to look at a wide variety of candidates, including candidates from outside the college. And the notion there is that after 19 years, we kind of need a fresh perspective. And she will bring that perspective,” Bahls said.

According to Schlouch, students can trust that the transition period between Bahls and Talentino will be smooth. Furthermore, Schlouch said that Talentino is ready to take on this challenge, and students can expect their new president to be someone that strives to encourage and support them in any way she possibly can. 

“Andrea is somebody who is deeply passionate about academic excellence and student growth and development and she is a champion for diversity, equity and inclusion, and her family background certainly reinforces that,” Barnds said. 

According to Barnds, Talentino also stresses the importance of listening to those around her in order to fully learn what the community’s needs are and how she can best fulfill them. 

“Andrea has been very direct. Every time she’s engaged with an audience, her job is first and foremost to listen to get to know this place to understand its strengths and the promise of Augustana,” Barnds said. 

According to Bahls, Talentino will likely not come in with immediate changes, as her primary focus is to listen to our community needs before implementing anything new. 

“I don’t think that she will come in with a list of new programs. What I expect is that she’ll kind of listen and get to know the community,” Bahls said.   

Talentino, in agreement with Bahls, said there might be changes, but first she would like to know more about Augustana and this community. She also expresses her hope that students will feel comfortable enough to go to her with anything they need. 

“One thing students can expect from me is transparency and openness. I have an open door for students to come and talk to me,” Talentino said.