What's New at AU?

Changes are happening all around campus; some things we can see (like new buildings) and others we can’t (like new master’s programs). No matter how it appears, the future at AU is happening now. During J-Term, the first phase of renovations at The Huddle in Morrison Commons took place. A new grill area was debuted when students came back, and by the beginning of the spring semester, students were able to enjoy a new grill space and sub shop area. Construction crews also took full advantage of the quiet campus during spring break. When students returned, they celebrated the new Starbucks@Siverson.

Out of all the renovations in the near and far future, why start with this one? “This project was brought to us by Sodexo as a way to enhance flexibility for students while also alleviating some congestion issues that were challenging for both the dining room and The Huddle,” says Corey Kopp, director of Campus Life. “This project has been percolating for a couple of years, as we have been looking for an opportunity to redefine The Huddle, create an opportunity to address wait times during peak hours and to offer Dining Dollars to make it possible for students to better control their own dining experience.

This project moves us a big step in the right direction and makes an immediate impact while we wait for other, larger projects to unfold.” Kopp says the new offerings bring greater flexibility and control for students. “Students can now use their Dining Dollars for any item in The Huddle or the Starbucks@Siverson whenever they like. They have a new dining option in the Sub Connection and expanded Viking Grill and convenience store offerings as well.” 

Trends for Campus Living

When it comes to their living situation, students are also looking for more independent living and privacy. That’s a trend that’s happening here at Augustana and on campuses across the country. Corey Kopp, director of Campus Life, says 85 percent of the living spaces here are found in traditional residence halls. However, he says over the last five years, apartments have become extremely popular. “That’s because students are still able to live within the umbrella of campus-owned facilities,” Kopp says.

In response to that trend, Augustana built two new apartment buildings, Balcer and Nelsen, in 2017. And now, a new apartment building on Summit Avenue, across the street from Madsen Center and the Center for Western Studies will be open for incoming juniors and seniors in the fall. Of course, there will be some differences in structure. "The new building will house 40 students, as opposed to the 32 in each of the previous two apartment buildings. Additionally, we will be constructing eight, two-bedroom apartments in the new building, in addition to the six townhouse apartments that will be replications of what is found in both the Balcer and Nelsen Apartments. These house four students each,” Kopp adds. 

New Outdoor Classroom Breaks Ground

Students at Augustana University will soon be able to take their learning outside the classroom. Ground was broken on a new outdoor classroom this spring, between the Froiland Science Complex and the Madsen Center. The project will be completed in time for the fall 2019 semester and will cost around $25,000.

Dr. David O’Hara, Augustana’s director of sustainability, says, “I teach outside whenever I can. I’ve been trying lots of different places around campus to see what works well.”

O’Hara’s dream project was made a reality in 2018 when a $375,000 sustainability grant was anonymously given to Augustana. Students in O’Hara’s fall 2018 Environmental Philosophy class jumped right in and helped conceptualize the project. Augustana senior Lucas Wylie created architectural plans while working as an intern under alum Chase Kramer, ‘08, an architect at TSP in Sioux Falls.

“The outdoor classroom can have a variety of uses,” says O’Hara, “including classes, theatrical or music performances, campus visits, religious gatherings and other group meetings.”

The outdoor classroom will be built in a semi-circular shape with three levels of seating. Each row of seats will be made from native South Dakota rock (Sioux quartzite, Black Hills granite and sandstone) because of their longevity and sustainability. O’Hara says the three layers of stone will be arranged in geologic order, with the oldest stone at the bottom and the youngest stone on top, so the classroom itself will be a picture of the geologic history of South Dakota.

“When people build hotels today, most of those are built to last 30 years,” O’Hara said. “[When I teach] in Greece or Guatemala, there are buildings that are thousands of years old that are still functional because they’ve been built in a sustainable way, [with] local stone, almost no maintenance. That’s what I want to do here.”