Augustana Reports Highest Enrollment in 26 Years

Augustana reports 26-year enrollment high

First-year students walk to Augustana's Opening Convocation earlier this fall. AU is reporting a 26-year enrollment high, serving students from 34 states and 38 countries around the world. 

Augustana’s enrollment grew 5 percent from last year, marking the University’s highest enrollment since 1990, AU officials today reported.

For Fall 2016, Augustana’s total headcount – the sum of part-time, full-time and graduate students – is 1,937. That number includes students from 34 states and 38 countries.

The numbers come one year after Augustana’s name change from college to university – a move officials said better represented the breadth and depth of undergraduate, graduate and adult learning happening on campus, as well as the direction charted for the institution by “Horizons 2019,” its five-year strategic plan.

The swiftness with which the University has been able to execute on the objectives outlined in its strategic plan has “absolutely influenced our enrollment and has helped create an Augustana like never before,” said President Rob Oliver.

“The energy on campus today is palpable. From new academic programs, to new facilities, innovative partnerships, a national championship last spring, and an exceptional job placement rate – the opportunities available to Augustana students today are simply unprecedented. It is indeed a great day to be an Augustana Viking.”

Rob Oliver
Augustana University President

Oliver said the University invested in, and has worked vigorously to execute the five major goals outlined in its strategic plan: to serve more students and foster their success; to provide substantive and innovative educational experiences; to cultivate strategic partnerships; to steward human, physical and financial resources; and to pursue greater brand awareness and recognition.

Since the inception of its strategic plan, Augustana has introduced a series of significant new initiatives, including:

  • The development of a Student Success Center, a central place for career and academic support services — a hub for educational and vocational engagement.
  • New majors and minors, as well as a new and innovative First Year Experience initiative for freshmen that includes welcome week and orientation activities, as well as a robust First Year Seminar (FYS). FYS is a two-semester program that serves as the foundation for the University’s new core curriculum. These innovative courses challenge students to think critically while becoming more effective communicators.
  • Increased graduate and continuing education offerings, beginning with new programs in genetic counseling and professional accountancy, both of which launched this fall. These join the University’s existing graduate programs in education and sports administration and leadership.
  • The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, an initiative designed to build strategic partnerships with industry leaders, business heads and curators of creativity. In addition to developing unique learning opportunities for adult learners, including the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy and the Entrepreneurial Mindset Academy, this Center has also introduced the Augustana Research Institute, an initiative that provides cross-sector measurement, analysis, and knowledge management research for communities and organizations throughout the region.
  • New facilities, including the $35 million, 125,000-square-foot Froiland Science Complex, Augustana’s new, state-of-the-art science facility. Next up, the University will break ground on a new, apartment-style housing complex to be located on Summit Avenue. 

Oliver said Augustana’s alumni, parents and friends have been especially supportive in the last year. The University received nearly $15 million in cash gifts during its 2015-2016 fiscal year – an institutional record for cash gifts received over a one-year period.

That financial support, Oliver said, paved the way for Augustana to award even more scholarships and financial aid. According to the Financial Aid Office, the average price for new, domestic first-year students this fall was $14,506 after scholarships and financial aid.

In many cases, AU Financial Aid officials said, families discovered that Augustana’s financial aid package made it as affordable for their students to attend Augustana as a public university, in some cases more so.

“One year ago when we unveiled Augustana University to the world, we introduced it as The Place for Possibilities,” Oliver said. “That phrasing was true then and it’s even more true today. We are both humbled and proud to report that so many students and families are choosing to invest in an education at Augustana.

“When asked why they chose AU, our students cite our renowned professors – the majority of whom hold terminal degrees in their fields, our small class sizes, the amazing hands-on learning opportunities we offer, our undergraduate research programs, the experiential learning and professional connections that happen through the internships we help procure, our high job and graduate school placement rates and, especially, because of our commitment to help students find not only careers, but to build lives of meaning and purpose.

“For most young people, a college education is the first major investment they’ll ever make,” Oliver said. “It’s also the most important investment they’ll ever make because it’s an investment in themselves. And, it’s an investment that will yield immeasurable returns for the rest of their lives.

“We are pleased to know that so many students – undergraduates, graduates, and adult learners – have chosen to invest in themselves at Augustana. And as faculty and staff on campus, we count ourselves blessed for the opportunity to serve our students socially, academically, and professionally as they explore all the possibilities before them.”

In the News: President Rob Oliver talks with KELO-TV about enrollment at the University: