The Top AU Stories of 2016

A look back at Augustana University news from the year 2016.


As 2016 comes to a close, we look back at the top stories from Augustana University over the last year. 


New Program Aims to Increase Number of Underrepresented College Students Served

The Pathways Program, led by AU students, is aimed at increasing the rate at which underrepresented youth — specifically Native American students — pursue post-secondary education and build long-term career and life goals.


Augustana Sophomore Places Second in 'Jeopardy!' Semifinals

Answer: She’s the Augustana University sophomore who placed second in the semifinal round of "Jeopardy! College Championship," earning a $10,000 cash prize and priceless memories.

Question: Who is Hannah Norem?


National Champions!

The Augustana men's basketball team bested Lincoln Memorial, the No. 1 team in the country, to win the first NCAA DII National Title in program history.

Relive the magic of #AugieMadness via photos, videos and social media at


April was a busy, news-filled month on campus: 


Class of 2016 Celebrates Commencement

Surrounded by thousands of their biggest fans — family, friends and professors — 338 graduates participated in the ceremony, held at the Sioux Falls Arena. An additional 87 students graduated  in absentia for a total class of 425 graduates.

Relive the fun from the weekend via photos and video (including our first-ever 360 degree grad cam!) at


Summer kicked off the season of internships and undergraduate research here and around the globe:

  • Students Embark on Summer Internships
    Internships offered Augustana University students the opportunity to build hands-on experience and develop key skills. See a sampling of where AU students were for summer 2016.
  • 2016 Undergraduate Summer Research Runs the Gamut
    From exploring cancer pathways, to laser spectroscopy, to beer – yes, beer, Augustana students spent the summer gaining invaluable hands-on experience and personal perspective by participating in undergraduate research, internships, and volunteer opportunities on campus and in labs and centers across the U.S. Learn more about this important work, organized by the University’s Natural Science Division and supported through agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN), the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), the Sanford Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR), the Avera Genomics Institute, and more.


Forbes Ranks Augustana Among America's Top Colleges

Augustana was again ranked in Forbes' listing of "America's Top Colleges," a ranking of the top 660 colleges in the U.S. The ranking, Forbes says, correlates directly to value. 

Throughout the fall, we earned other major rankings from national agencies such as the Princeton Review and U.S. News. See them all at


Ahead of the fall semester, we welcomed new students and new faculty members: 

  • New Vikings Arrive on Campus  
    In August, a new voyage began for Augustana’s newest Vikings. Hailing from 19 states and 10 countries, members of the Augustana University Class of 2020 officially moved in to Bergsaker and Solberg halls on Saturday, Aug. 27, bringing with them the kind of gear every Viking needs to begin a new journey: a comfy futon, well-worn sneakers, hundreds of t-shirts, an electric fan and some photos from home.
  • Augustana Welcomes New Faculty Members to Campus
    Thirteen new, full-time faculty members joined the Augustana community this fall in the departments of chemistry, biology, music, education, psychology, business, genetic counseling and nursing.


As far as AU news goes, September was a huge month:

  • Augustana Reports Highest Enrollment in 26 Years
    For Fall 2016, Augustana’s enrollment grew 5 percent from last year, marking the University’s highest enrollment since 1990.
  • President Rob Oliver to Retire After 25 Years of Service to Augustana
    “For my wife, Angie, and I, the opportunity to serve Augustana has brought us incredible joy. Someone once said, ‘If you want an interesting life, surround yourself with interesting people.’ This campus is filled with the most interesting, passionate, dedicated and innovative people we’ve ever met. We feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with our amazing professors, to work alongside our talented staff, and to watch our students grow and develop lives of meaning and purpose. It’s been an honor and a privilege, truly," Oliver said. He will retire on July 31, 2017.
  • Hundreds Attend Froiland Science Complex Dedication
    Nearly 500 alumni, friends and members of the campus community — including retired faculty members — turned out for the official dedication of the Froiland Science Complex. The event was held nearly 50 years to the day of the dedication of Augustana's former science facility, the Gilbert Science Center.
    See photos and videos at


VanEssen, Romano Reign Over Viking Days 2016

Mason VanEssen (Tracy, Minnesota) and Katie Romano (Canon City, Colorado) were crowned Viking Days 2016 King and Queen at Coronation while later in the week hundreds of alumni returned home to celebrate homecoming.

Relive the fun from the weekend via photos (including selfies!) and video at

Other big news in October included:

  • Success Center Director Earns Fulbright to Study International Learning
    Billie Streufert, executive director of Augustana’s Student Success Center, earned a Fulbright International Education Administrator Seminar Award this fall and recently returned from an intensive, two-week study in Germany where she examined the societal, cultural and higher education systems of other countries.
  • Construction Set to Begin on New Student Housing Complex
    AU announced plans to build a new $1.8 million student housing complex, to be located on Summit Avenue across the street from the Madsen Center.
  • Augustana Introduces New Core Curriculum
    As Augustana students made their way through the fall semester, AU professors were engaged in the delivery of an innovative new Core Curriculum, an endeavor University officials say will further distinguish Augustana as a premier institution of higher education.


CBS News Lists Augustana as Best in South Dakota

Augustana University is the best college in the state of South Dakota, according to an article on using an analysis by Niche, a Pennsylvania-based data analytics website that reviews and ranks schools, colleges and neighborhoods.


December gave us an opportunity to share more great news about our students: 

  • Augustana Senior Named Schwarzman Scholar  
    Augustana senior Kofi Gunu, a political science and economics double major from Tamale, Ghana, has been named a 2018 Schwarzman Scholar, a prestigious honor that will support his master’s degree study at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
  • Revolutionizing the Job Search Process
    Most of us — millennials, especially — want more than “just a job." We want a position that aligns with who we are. A role that will offer meaning, purpose and fulfillment. Meet senior Alex Guggenberger, the force behind Jobiki, a revolutionary new job search tool

Kelly Sprecher
Director of Media Relations