Donation Creates Pilot Beacom Research Fellows Program at Augustana University

Assistant Vice President for Enterprise Data Analytics and Augustana Research Institute Dr. Suzanne Smith and Assistant Director of Admission Data and Technology Bammi Abate

Augustana University is excited to announce a donation from Miles and Lisa Beacom of Sioux Falls, which will create a two-year pilot of the Beacom Research Fellows Program — a program of the Augustana Research Institute (ARI).

The Beacom Research Fellows Program will provide opportunities for organizations with limited resources to access research, analytics and field-specific expertise in operations and data management. Eligible organizations include government agencies, non-profit organizations and social entrepreneurs that strive to improve the quality of life in Sioux Falls. 

“There are so many good people in Sioux Falls. A lot of people are very generous with their time, their talent, their treasure — it is an amazing community and you don’t see that in many other places,” said Lisa Beacom, pictured on the right with her family. “It’s nice to be able to help these organizations help others.”

The Beacom Research Fellows Program will give Augustana students the opportunity to partner with area organizations to complete collaborative research projects on their behalf. The fellows will provide close consultation through the entire research process, from refining research questions to collecting and analyzing data, making informed decisions, and reporting to stakeholders — all at no cost to the partner organization. 

Assistant Vice President for Enterprise Data analytics and ARI Dr. Suzanne Smith said, “For these students, it’s an awesome opportunity to get their hands dirty doing real applied research, but to also get to know the Sioux Falls community and an organization really deeply.”

The fellows can help organizations with the following areas:

  • Better understand community needs.

  • Evaluate a program to see whether it’s working.

  • Measure the return on investment for a program or organization.

  • Find ways to streamline work and operate more efficiently.

  • Improve the way data is collected, stored and managed so that it’s easier to use.

  • Collect data to support grant applications or impact reports.

Partner organizations are selected through a competitive application process based on the potential for the Beacom Research Fellows Program to contribute to the organization’s mission and the Sioux Falls community. Sioux Empire United Way is already helping the ARI connect with potential partners — spreading the word about the program and the process.

There’s the potential for ARI to complete up to four projects a year with the first set of applications due on March 1. There will likely be another request for applications in the fall of 2021.

For more information, please visit

Program Questions: Contact Dr. Suzanne Smith, assistant vice president for enterprise data analytics and Augustana Research Institute.

Media Inquiries: Contact Jill Wilson, public relations and communications strategist.