The worldwide Augustana College experience

The Adventure Ahead

Steve and Jane Bahls prepare to depart on their summer sabbatical, leaving the Dahl Presiden'ts Home at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, for Canada.

Steve and Jane Bahls prepare to depart on their summer sabbatical, taking along an Augie A just as many students do when they go abroad.

June 1

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes but having new eyes.

— Marcel Proust, French  novelist

 I’ve had the privilege of serving in higher education for 27 years now.  For me, every nine years marks a new beginning.  After nine years as a law professor at the University of Montana, I became a law school dean in Columbus, Ohio.  And after nine years as a law school dean at Capital University, I joined Augustana College as its president. But I’m not moving on after nine years at Augustana, a school I’ve loved from the start. The board of the college awarded me a summer sabbatical to disconnect and re energize.  It is my first sabbatical in 27 years.

My stated goals for the sabbatical are to make progress on a book that will be published by the Association of Governing Boards about how faculty, trustees and administrators of colleges and universities can strengthen institutions of higher education by sharing governance.  But the central reason for the sabbatical is a break from the nearly 24/7  job of serving as a college president.  It is my hope that by disconnecting from Augustana, I can come back to the college with new eyes, as Augustana prepares for a strategic plan to carry us through 2020.

So how to disconnect?  We decided to get as far away from it all as we can in North America by spending the summer in five “off the beaten path” places in Canada.  We will hike the great Canadian National Parks in Newfoundland, take a train to Churchill on the Hudson Bay, drive the epic Dempster Highway above the Arctic Circle, take a 12-day raft trip down the Nahanni River in the Northwest Territories and travel to the remote Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve in the Queen Charlotte Islands, off the coast of British Columbia.  We’ll cool off in the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean, as well as Hudson Bay. We’ve been underway for almost two weeks now, and I’m ready to start some writing. (For tales and photos from our journey so far, see Jane’s blog,

As we learn about different cultures, immerse ourselves in nature, and spend three months together, I hope to not only view the college from a fresh vantage point, but also to do what I hope our students do at Augustana – grow in mind, spirit and body.

Leave a Reply