Remembering Augustana’s seventh college president


Thomas Tredway, past president of Augustana College, recently passed away. Used with permission from the Augustana College website.

Molly Sweeney and Josie Hathaway

Former Augustana College President Thomas Tredway died at 86 years old on April 10, 2022, after a brief illness, according to President Steve Bahls in an email sent out to the school. 

Tredway, an Augustana alum, joined the school as a teacher in 1964. In 1970, Tredway became the vice president of Academic Affairs and dean, and in Oct. 1975, he was inaugurated as Augustana’s seventh president. 

During his 28 year presidency, Tredway had several notable accomplishments, according to President Bahls. Several milestones of Tredway’s presidency include three separate Swedish royalty visits and several new buildings on campus, such as the Thomas Tredway Library, PepsiCo Recreation Center and the Olin Center for Educational Technology. 

Despite these many accomplishments, Bahls remembers his predecessor best through the nature seen today at Augustana. According to President Bahls, when Tredway joined the college as president, he became “famous” for planting trees on campus. 

Bahls recounted a security consultation in the early years of his presidency. He was told the number of trees was a security concern because of the amount of hiding places they provided. 

“I called up Dr. Tredway and said, ‘we’re going to be thinning the trees a little bit here.’ [Tredway] said, ‘I planted slow growing trees and fast growing trees, please thin the fast growing trees because the fast growing trees split and lose limbs.’ I thought that was kind of interesting that he had thought about that,” Bahls said in an interview with the Observer. 

Dr. David Dehnel, professor of political science, taught at Augustana during Tredway’s presidency. Dehnel remembers Tredway as someone who preferred informal meetings and building relationships. 

“There was a group of friends who would meet for coffee every morning. If I wanted something from [Tredway] when I was department chair, I would go get coffee and negotiate it with him right there,” Dehnel said. “I liked the informal relationship with him. He was a humble guy. Really self-effacing, he enjoyed watching the faculty do their thing,” Dehnel said.

Professor of communications and Talbott Harbour Chair Dr. David Snowball joined the faculty when Tredway was President as well. Snowball remembers Tredway’s time as president as an intimate “mom and pop shop-like” place to work.

“If I needed money as the head of the debate team… all I had to do was pick up the phone and call and say ‘I should have asked for this last week. It’s kind of embarrassing, but can I get $500 in cash for travel?’ They would say ‘How soon can you be here?’ and you would just walk over,” Snowball said. “I was expected to have my receipts at the end of the process, but it was very much an organization that operated informally.”

Tredway is remembered for his love of learning and his strong dedication to Augustana, according to Bahls. 

Snowball said naming the library after Tredway was a great way to remember his legacy, especially now that he has passed. 

“I don’t think we could have made him happier than by recognizing his name in the library, because he was the person who relished ideas and learning and that sort of thing,” Snowball said. 

Tredway is survived by his wife, Kate, his son, Dan Tredway, his daughter, Rebecca Tredway and his grandson, Caleb Langenbrunner, according to his obituary.  

According to the Augustana College website, a memorial for Dr. Tredway will be held on Thursday, April 28 at 4:00 p.m. in Wallenberg Hall in the Denkmann Memorial Building. 

If interested in planting a tree in memory of Dr. Tredway or sending flowers to the family, visit the Tribute Store.