Meet the leaders: Augustana attracts talent to Sioux Falls

Jan. 17, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Augustana University.

As she put together her leadership team, Augustana University president Stephanie Herseth Sandlin looked for professionals who could think creatively and strategically in critical areas.

“Hiring leaders who have strategic vision and who can inspire and motivate teams across a range of specialties is essential,” Herseth Sandlin said. “Not only do they have functional expertise in their respective areas, they can envision our university’s future and are willing to contribute their time, energy and talent to get us there.”

Augustana’s reputation, mission and values attracted leaders across a wide range of disciplines and operational experience from the Sioux Falls region and out of the market.

“Augustana has a great reputation for academic excellence, and it came as no surprise that we were attracting talented leaders who have previously worked at universities across the United States, such as the University of Kansas-Lawrence, Augsburg University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Michigan State,” Herseth Sandlin said. “We’ve also identified strong leaders within the university and in the community to help guide our next steps.”

Herseth Sandlin established a team that includes individuals who have been nationally recognized for innovation, student services and enrollment, finance, marketing and community engagement. Those comprising the Augustana leadership team are:

  • Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, president.
  • Mark Blackburn, dean of students.
  • Nancy Davidson, vice president for enrollment.
  • Pam Homan, vice president for advancement.
  • Colin Irvine, senior vice president for academic affairs.
  • Pamela Miller, special assistant to the president.
  • Josh Morton, director of athletics.
  • Shannan Nelson, vice president for finance and administration.
  • Paul Rohde, campus pastor.
  • Nikki Troxclair, vice president for strategic communications and marketing.
  • Deanna Versteeg, vice president for human resources.

“This leadership team has the right mix of backgrounds and talents that will lead Augustana to a bold and exciting future,” Herseth Sandlin said. “Their experience, coupled with the dedication and expertise of our faculty and staff, charts the course for unlimited possibilities.”

As announced in December, the Augustana board of trustees unanimously and enthusiastically approved the aspirational goals outlined in the AU: Vision 2030 proposal. This leadership team and the campus community will focus on the planning and implementation of these goals in key areas:

  • Adapt the academic structure of the university to most effectively support the liberal arts core, new graduate-degree programs, the performing and visual arts, and a professional school.
  • Grow total enrollment to at least 3,000 students.
  • Establish strategic academic scholarships that enhance affordability and diversity.
  • Transition to a Division I intercollegiate athletics conference.
  • Make dramatic improvements to the physical campus and IT infrastructure.
  • Increase substantially the university’s endowment and other financial resources to reach these goals.

Pam Homan has been part of the university’s evolution for years – first as a student, as a trustee and currently as vice president for advancement.

“With Augustana’s bold vision to add new undergraduate academic programs and graduate degrees, I am excited to further witness the impact of Augustana’s global network of alumni on solving local, regional and world problems,” Homan said.

Nancy Davidson, who joined Augustana’s admissions team in 1990, points to how the university has already started positioning itself for the future with its change from a college to a university, the addition of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the creation of a student success center. It already has led to growing enrollment, increased engagement with the Sioux Falls community and multiple athletic championships.

“I know that under president Herseth Sandlin’s leadership Augustana will achieve the goals outlined in Vision 2030 and more,” said Davidson, who serves on the leadership team as vice president for enrollment.

“On the way to success, we’ll create new opportunities for our students, strengthen existing partnerships and develop important new relationships and opportunities for collaboration,” Davidson added. “New programs and key investments will create more Augustana graduates who are ready to immediately make an impact in their professions and communities.”

Newcomers to the leadership team are equally excited about Augustana’s future.

Shannan Nelson was recruited to help lead finance and administration and is excited about the university’s future growth.

“What I have learned since joining the team is that Augustana is positioned to become a top 10 university in the Midwest,” he said.

“The vision and energy that the leadership team and staff expressed to me during the recruiting process convinced me to come to Augustana. The growth and vibrancy of Sioux Falls is exciting. Augustana is in such a fortunate position to be a strategic partner with the city and with other organizations so that we can grow together.”

Nelson previously was associate vice chancellor of business and financial planning at the University of Kansas.

Since arriving in Sioux Falls, “I am extremely impressed with how proud this community is of Augustana. Everyone seems to know an Augustana student, alum or someone who works at the university,” Nelson said.

Others on the leadership team have similar sentiments.

“Having previously worked in higher education around the country, including UNLV, Georgia Tech and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, I was familiar with Augustana’s reputation for academic excellence focused around servant leadership,” said Nikki Troxclair, vice president for strategic communications and marketing.

“Since joining the team, it has been amazing to see how everyone truly lives the mission and core values of the university: Christian, liberal arts, excellence, community and service. Add in the dynamics of Sioux Falls as a growing city, and it’s a recipe for extraordinary success.”

Colin Irvine joined Augustana in the summer of 2018 from Carroll College in Helena, Mont., where he served as senior vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college. He also served for 12 years in various roles at Augsburg University and is the recipient of two Fulbright scholarship awards.

Irvine knows he has arrived at Augustana University at the right time. As the newly named senior vice president for academic affairs, he will be instrumental in helping Augustana achieve its vision for 2030. He will focus on new undergraduate and graduate degrees and programs based on the university’s liberal arts core.

“What makes this place so special are the many incredible ways that the faculty and staff care for the students and their success,” Irvine said.

“I think it’s because of the university’s mission, care and concern for our students and community that Augustana was able to attract what I view as a once-in-a-generation leader in president Herseth Sandlin. I can’t imagine a more exciting place to be, both Augustana and Sioux Falls, at this time.”

Updated: Augustana’s 2030 vision calls for move to Division I university

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