Never too old to learn

A message from the president

July  19, 2010

steven bahls

During the course of our sesquicentennial year, we've done a great deal of looking back. It's been a pleasure to learn and share the history of Augustana through the pages of Tom Tredway's book, Coming of Age: A History of Augustana College 1935-1975; through the special 150th anniversary issue of Augustana College Magazine; and through a dramatic representation of the 1860 creation of the Augustana Synod performed on June 5 by two of our students at Jefferson Prairie Lutheran Church in Poplar Grove, Ill.

Not surprisingly, in looking back, we've learned some lessons that will serve us well as we look ahead.

By way of example: Would it surprise you to learn that three of the most widely shared components of the sesquicentennial observance have been online?

Stories from the special website we've created at have been passed along by email among alumni of all ages, and on to friends of the college and even people just learning about Augustana and its history.

In April, when the Tunberg brothers, Jeff '72 and Jon '79, unveiled the newest flavor of Whitey's Ice Cream — "Augustana Viking Pride" — we attempted to set a world record for most people eating ice cream in a human chain, and in the process set off a wave of online publicity that landed Augustana's name across the country, as well as in China, Sweden, Japan, Germany, England, Vietnam and more places around the globe.

And thanks to the web, even those who weren't able to join us at Jefferson Prairie Lutheran Church have been able to see the play produced by Augustana College Theatre Director Jeff Coussens.

Online communication has come of age. It offers our friends and alumni more frequent updates, as well as new opportunities to experience Augustana through downloadable videos, first-person profiles of students, and other offerings. Interactive features provide an opportunity for friends and alumni to provide immediate feedback to surveys and stories. And moving one of the year's two issues of the college magazine to online-only reduces consumption of natural resources and allows a significant savings in printing and postage costs.

I'm proud of my colleagues in Augustana's communication and marketing office, and I look forward, with you, to reading their work in this format. I invite you to explore this online issue, and I hope here you will find — as I have — some story so engaging you'll want to share it with friends. In any event, I am certain that as you explore this inaugural online issue of our college magazine, you will learn something new about Augustana.

After all, as my colleagues and I discovered, even at 150 years one is never too old to learn something new.

Steven C. Bahls is the eighth president of Augustana College.