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Task Force One: Competitive Positioning

A note from the chair,

We hope you will find the information provided here useful. The report and presentation to the board was the collective work of the task force and represents our interpretation of the information reviewed as it relates to Augustana's competitive position.

The trends and truths were fairly easy to identify and in our various discussions with stakeholders there seemed to be broad acknowledgement of the challenges we face as an industry and a college. The themes identified represent our best guess about what can be done to strengthen our competitive position.  

The members of the task force left these themes broad intentionally; we resisted the temptation to recommend a course of action or a plan. However, the task force did feel strongly that these themes do connect very directly to strengthening Augustana's competitive position and can serve as a useful guide for the creative work to be accomplished by other task forces involved in strategic planning.  

Because the strategic planning process is an iterative process we leave open the possibility that we've missed some important information or trends related to our competitive position, which is why we've shared a number of resources as part of this site so you can review them on your own and draw your own conclusions.  

Please feel free to share any alternative assessments of Augustana's competitive position based on your review of the information provided with me so I can share it with the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. You may email me at  

W. Kent Barnds
Executive Vice President and Vice President, Enrollment, Communication & Planning

The charge: Augustana President Steve Bahls invited the members of Task Force One to participate on March 10, 2013. He asked them to: "Assess the competitive position of Augustana College and its readiness to take advantage of opportunities and address challenges. Your task force should answer the following fundamental questions: What is our value proposition and how strong is it? Is our internal assessment of value consistent with public perception? How are we distinctive from other liberal arts colleges? Are there effective programs or practices that we should consider?" (Complete document)

Deadline: Task Force One was asked to deliver a preliminary report and overview of the college’s position on May 9 to the college board of trustees.

Board presentation (Powerpoint)

Trends, Truths and Themes (document)


Task Force One members

W. Kent Barnds, vice president of enrollment, communication and planning; Task Force One chair
Scott Cason, assistant vice president of communication and marketing
Meghan Cooley, director of recruitment communications
Leslie DuPree, director of web services and new media
Robert Elfline, assistant professor of music
David English, chief financial officer; vice president for finance and administration
Mark Salisbury, assistant dean; director of assessment and institutional research
David Snowball, professor of communication studies
Pam Trotter, professor of chemistry
Chris Vaughan, assistant vice president and chief information officer
Mike Zapolski, director of athletics


Task Force One members met on March 15, March 25, April 3, April 12, April 19, April 26 and May 3


April 9: Faculty, staff and administrators were invited to participate in focus group meetings. (Document)

April 12: Focus group of faculty (facilitated by Rob Elfline and Leslie DuPree). Themes: "Be more direct" and "Tell us what we can do about this?"

April 13: "Invitation to a serious conversation" sent to faculty, staff and administrators with an invitation to engage in conversations and check the work of the task force (facilitated by Leslie DuPree, Rob Elfline and David Snowball) Key questions: Are our preliminary findings correct? Have we missed trends or truths? Is our case and are our materials persuasive? What should be refined? (Document)

Related materials:


April 15: Open meeting to discuss preliminary report, 4-5 p.m.  

April 16: Open meeting to discuss preliminary report, 11:30 to 12:30 p.m.  

April 16: Conference call with members of the Board of Trustees, 4-5 p.m.  

April 18: Open meeting to discuss preliminary report, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Key themes: "This is scary;" "The truths and trends get it right, what now?" "Can you provide examples of the themes you suggest?"  

April 28: Preliminary report shared with the president's cabinet

May 9: Task force report to board of trustees and campus stakeholders

Background materials


Reading materials shared with the board of trustees, January 2013

Measures of Institutional Effectiveness and Mission Fulfillment, 2012

Measures of Institutional Effectiveness and Mission Fulfillment, 2013

Augustana presentation to Moody's Investor Services, 2012

University of Iowa Educational Leadership Assessment: Augustana College: Market Position and Marketing Efforts, 2011

Strategies and Tactics For Developing a Recruitment Program at the Departmental And Programmatic Level, Kent Barnds, 2009

Presentation to department chairs by Kent Barnds, including demographic data and recommendations, 2008

Professional and consulting organizations

Grant Thornton, Top Ten Imperatives, 2012

Bain, The Financially Sustainable University, 2012

The Lawlor Group: Knocking at the Door, 2013 (demographics information and predictions)

Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce 2011 study on "the economic value of 171 college majors"


Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Data Feedback Report, 2012
(comparative data from 2010-11 with peer group of nine colleges)

George Dehne & Associates, 2012, data set,
(based on phone interviews with hundreds of admitted students)

Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), The American Freshman, 2012

National Student Clearinghouse four-year breakdown of non-enrolling students

National Student Clearinghouse, non-enrolling students 2008-11