Category Archives: Illinois

Right at home on May tour stops


Steve Bahls and Augustana alumni check out a sculpture made entirely of buttons at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

StAugustana alumni check out a sculpture made entirely of buttons at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Milwaukee Jane and I have looked forward to all of the occasions to visit with alumni, parents and friends during the 10th anniversary tour. But we were especially looking forward to Milwaukee, having lived there from 1979 to 1985, when I practiced law at the firm of Frisch, Dudek and Slattery (now part of Whyte, Hirschboeck, Dudek). Jane taught religion at Milwaukee’s Alverno College.

Our event was held at the spectacular Milwaukee Art Museum with more than 50 graduates, alumni and friends. We were treated to a tour of the museum by the most energetic tour guide I’ve ever seen.

We last held an event at the museum 10 years ago when I’d first arrived at Augustana. I marvel at how much has changed since then. Not only has Milwaukee gotten better and better, but it is now a “hot spot” for young professionals.

The Augie group in Milwaukee is considerably younger than at the prior visit. I recall 10 years ago, one alumna greeting me in the Swedish language in order to test my Swedish credentials. Today, alumni and parents are looking ahead, asking how Augustana’s core and longstanding values can shape a new generation of young people in a rapidly changing world. Although the campus and the demographic composition of our students may change, our values are as important as when the college was founded more than 150 years ago. We train students to grow in mind, spirit and body for lives of service.


Steve and Jane pause for a photo with alumni and friends at the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford.

Steve and Jane pause for a photo with alumni and friends at the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford.

Rockford — Jane and I have always received such a warm welcome from Rockford-area alumni, and this event, at the Anderson Japanese Gardens, was no exception. Though it rained lightly during our tour, the gardens were in their full spring glory.

The Rockford area is an important place for Augustana. The Augustana Synod, from which we came, was founded near Rockford in Jefferson Prairie, Wisconsin, in 1860. It was the vision of these courageous pioneers, many with Rockford connections, that made the college possible.

I am privileged to serve as only the eighth president in 153 years. I so much appreciate the support of alumni and friends who have facilitated making connections for Augustana throughout the region and providing financial support for the great things happening in Rock Island.

Alumni enjoy a tram tour of the Morton Arboretum.

Alumni enjoy a tram tour of the Morton Arboretum.

Lisle, Ill. — Chicago-area events are always fun and well attended. And what an evening we had at the Morton Arboretum! The highlight of the evening was a tram tour of the grounds of the Arboretum, with thousands of daffodils in full bloom. I wish our Chicago-area alumni could see Founder’s Hill at Augustana, also with a grand display of thousands of daffodils.

Augustana enjoys a great reputation in Chicago. Most do not know that Augustana held its first classes on the near North side of Chicago, before moving to Paxton, Ill. To the families of prospective students in Chicago, we are a “hot, up and coming” school. For many of our alumni from Chicago, visiting Augustana is easy. Some feel Augustana is still their “home away from home.”   This year, we opened a recruiting office in Chicago, so all indications are that these ties will continue to grow stronger.

Augustana loves Chicago and Chicago loves Augustana!

Ten years and counting

Augustana President Steve Bahls in 2003.

It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since I arrived at Augustana in the summer of 2003. Later this week, Jane and I will begin a coast-to-coast tour of the country that will give me an opportunity to thank Augustana alumni for their support.

In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of the past 10 years, I also hope to share what’s ahead for the college. I plan to discuss some of the critical challenges the college faces in the years ahead and how our next strategic planning process will address these challenges. I also want to share the personal goals I have identified that will guide my leadership of the college in the future. When we are in your area, I hope you will be able to join us.