Top AU Stories of 2017


Here's a look back at some of the top newsmakers and happenings at Augustana University in 2017. 


We started the year with national recognition for two of our programs and the Augustana Research Institute released its housing study:



  • Boe Forum With Neil deGrasse Tyson Draws Thousands to Campus
    Nearly 4,000 people filled the Elmen Center to hear acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson speak at the 20th Boe Forum on Public Affairs.
  • Class of 2016 Grads: 98% Job Placement
    According to a new report compiled by Augustana’s Student Success Center, 98 percent of recent Augustana grads seeking employment are employed in a position related to their major or chosen field.
  • #GiveLikeAViking Breaks Records
    Augustana's Giving Day, a 24-hour giving event held on Thursday, March 2, set a single-day Augustana record for most gifts received in a 24-hour period: $135,968 from 282 donors. Gifts came in from 33 states and the District of Columbia, with Augustana alumni making up 69 percent of donors.




Augustana to Host Data Warehouse
Big data is coming to AU — Augustana is the home for a new central repository of workforce, economic vitality, social services, education and quality of life data for the Sioux Falls MSA.


Money Gives Augustana Top Marks for Quality, Affordability, Outcomes
Money ranked Augustana among the nation's best colleges, based on education quality, affordability and outcomes.



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

  • AU Welcomes Largest Incoming Class Since 1978; Enrollment Tops 2,000
    Augustana University reported its largest incoming class since 1978 — 481 first-year students from 20 states and 10 countries, an increase of 14 percent from last year. The University’s newest Vikings join existing students, as well as 331 graduate students, for a total headcount of 2,080, a 7.5 percent increase from last year. This marks Augustana’s largest enrollment since 1990.
  • U.S. News Gives Augustana Top Rankings
    U.S. News ranked Augustana No. 3 among the "Best Regional Colleges in the Midwest," giving the University high marks for its commitment to teaching undergraduates and praising AU for its value in the report's "Great Schools, Great Prices" analysis.
  • Forbes Ranks Augustana Among America's Top Colleges
    Augustana is again ranked in Forbes' listing of "America's Top Colleges 2017," a listing of the top 650 colleges in the U.S. The ranking, Forbes says, correlates directly to value.

In addition, we celebrated the inauguration of Stephanie Herseth Sandlin as the University’s 24th president. Designed to illustrate the University's core values, inaugural events included a faculty symposium, a service project, worship services, a student research and creativity symposium, gatherings for alumni and community partners, a campus community celebration, the investiture ceremony, and more. See a recap at and these stories:

  • Symposium Celebrates Student Research, Creativity
    Students from each academic division presented their undergraduate research findings, displayed artwork and read from their literary works during the Student Research and Creativity Symposium.
  • Campus Community, AU Alumni Team Up to Support Feeding South Dakota
    Honoring a University core value of service, members of the Augustana campus community, along with AU alumni, teamed up to support Feeding South Dakota. More than 100 volunteers turned out for the food packing event, giving a total of 138 hours to support Feeding South Dakota.


  • Norris, Graber Crowned 2017 Viking Days King and Queen
    Seniors Shay Norris, a psychology major from Sioux Falls, and Katelyn Graber, a biology major from Hurley, South Dakota, were crowned the 2017 Viking Days King and Queen at Coronation. 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
  • Augustana Earns Major Grants from National Science Foundation for Physics Research
    The Augustana University Physics Department received three major grants from the National Science Foundation. The grants, totaling $294,000, will provide opportunities for AU undergraduates to engage in cutting edge physics research on campus, and at labs around the world, over the next several summers.

There were lots of awards in October, too:

  • Augustana Recognizes Alumni for Achievement in the Arts
    Augustana honored alumni for excellence and achievement in the performing and visual arts during the Command Performance on Friday, Oct. 13, as part of Viking Days 2017.
  • 2017 Alumni Achievement, Horizon Award Recipients Honored
    Five Augustana alumni were honored during Viking Days for their outstanding achievements in their fields and for exemplifying the core values of Augustana University: Christian Faith, Excellence, Liberal Arts, Community and Service.
  • Wolter Awarded Spitznagel Medal for Achievement in Art
    David Wolter '04, an award-winning story artist for DreamWorks, has been awarded the prestigious Harold Spitznagel Medal for Achievement in Art, the highest award presented by the Augustana art department.
  • Duffy-Matzner Honored by American Chemical Society
    Augustana's Dr. Jetty Duffy-Matzner received the 2017 E. Ann Nalley Award for Volunteer Service to the American Chemical Society (ACS). The award recognizes the volunteer efforts of individuals who have served the American Chemical Society through their local section, regional and national activities. 
  • Research Poster by Augustana Senior Earns Regional Award
    A research poster by Augustana senior Skyy Pineda, a biochemistry major from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, was recognized at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Midwest Regional Meeting, held Oct. 18-20 in Lawrence, Kansas.


  • Augustana Ranked No. 1 in SD by WalletHub
    WalletHub's "2018 University Rankings" lists Augustana University at No. 1 in South Dakota and No. 195 nationwide among universities who offer "top-notch education at the most reasonable prices."
  • Edda Wins 'Best of Show' Award for 2016-17 Edition
    To encapsulate a school year in a book can be daunting, even without the added pressure of knowing that it will spark memories decades later. Andrea Conover ’17 and Kaylyn Deiter ’17, co-editors in chief of the Edda, Augustana's yearbook, and their team stepped up to the task and were recently commended for their work. The 2016-17 Edda placed eighth in Best of Show at the National College Media Convention in October, held in Dallas, Texas.
  • Augustana to Offer Master’s Degree in Athletic Training
    Augustana announced details for its new master’s of science degree program in Athletic Training. University officials say the new program comes at a critical time — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for athletic trainers is expected to grow by 22 percent through 2026.


Evenson Receives DAISY Faculty Award for Excellence in Nursing Education
Connie Evenson, an assistant professor of nursing, is the first recipient of the Augustana DAISY Faculty Award, an honor that recognizes extraordinary nurses who go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of patients and families, and nursing faculty who provide exceptional instruction and inspiration for nursing students.


Kelly Sprecher
Director of Media Relations