Augustana aims to reach 3,000 students, diversify through strategic scholarships

April 11, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Augustana University.

As the population of Sioux Falls grows, Augustana University plans to expand its student population to meet increasing workforce demands by preparing and educating the region’s future leaders.

Augustana counts about 2,100 students today. A critical element of its 2030 vision is growing that number to 3,000. Nancy Davidson, vice president for enrollment, and Mark Blackburn, dean of students, are leading a committee to address enrollment and strategic scholarships to support Augustana’s 2030 vision. The committee is working alongside faculty, students and the community to develop a comprehensive plan in the coming months aimed at achieving its goals.

“Growing our student population will allow us to deliver more opportunities and be closer in size to some of our peer universities and those we aspire to,” Davidson said. “Right now, we often hear our students say Augustana is a small community that delivers big opportunities, which is true, but we recognize it’s to our advantage to grow in ways that support access, diversity and workforce development.”

That especially will help some Sioux Falls-area students feel more comfortable deciding to attend Augustana, she added. “By increasing our enrollment, we’re going to position ourselves to offer even more of the opportunities students are looking for.”

Reaching 3,000 students can take a lot of forms, including undergraduate, graduate, full-time or part-time students, students who live on campus or those who may take many of their courses remotely.

“We have long heard from alumni that they wish we offered more graduate programs,” Davidson said.

“We have a lot of alumni here, and our students love Sioux Falls and want to continue their graduate work here. This is often where they want to work and live, and whether they want to immediately progress from undergraduate to graduate work or return to advance their career once they’re in the professional world, they want to know we can offer that next step.”

Part of Augustana’s enrollment growth will come as the university advances its goals of adding signature academic programs, she said.

“They will help us not only attract more students from our region but give us a broader reach. Our enhanced national marketing presence also will help us recruit even more students from beyond our region.”

And as the university provides more opportunities for hybrid programs and online courses, it will reach students who might not be located in Sioux Falls, she continued.

“Augustana is going to remain rooted in our mission – we are not going to change who we are – but we will evolve to meet the changing needs of our students while still providing an Augustana education focused on academic excellence.”

Establishing strategic scholarships

Augustana is planning to reach the 3,000-student milestone through multiple strategies, including more scholarships.

“Cost of tuition is always top of mind with parents and students, no matter what their financial situation,” Davidson said. “We hear time and again it’s important to have a variety of financial aid resources, and that’s especially true for diverse and first-generation students.”

Helping diversify the student body and make college attainable benefits everyone on campus, added Blackburn.

Strategic scholarships, such as the Prairie Sage Scholarship that seeks to provide tuition support for Native American and First Nations students, can offer increased opportunities to make college more affordable.

“We live in a diverse world,” Blackburn said. “We need to recognize the rich atmosphere we have in the city of Sioux Falls, which is growing, and we also have to improve and create an infrastructure that will not only give students the opportunities to attend the university but assist them in developing the skill sets needed to thrive in a society as it is today. We need to ensure that students from all aspects of diversity, which include culture, religion, race and socioeconomic status, graduate with the habits needed to be active members of a diverse community and become productive leaders.”

A more diverse student body also includes a range of ages, Davidson added.

“We’re not just talking about people ages 18 to 22. Part of this strategy involves providing opportunities and access for adults who didn’t have the chance to finish their degree or adults who want to continue learning and take advantage of graduate programs we offer.”

To help support students, Augustana envisions community partnerships that address broader workforce needs.

“We think there are great opportunities to partner with employers through strategic scholarships and perhaps work opportunities at leading organizations to support undergraduate and graduate students in financing their education,” Davidson said. “We’re looking for creative ways to provide financial resources for students, as well as meaningful experiential learning and amazing connections.”

To follow the progress, visit and keep watching SiouxFalls.Business.

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Augustana aims to reach 3,000 students, diversify through strategic scholarships

It’s a big goal: Top 3,000 students by 2030. Here’s how Augustana University plans to get there.

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