Augustana College president returns to teaching roots for first time in nearly a decade

Local News

After a nine-year hiatus, the president of Augustana College is stepping back into the classroom.

This week, President Steven Bahls began instructing 20 first-year Augustana undergrads on the “Art of Fundraising,” one of 130 courses offered during the college’s January term, also known as “J-term.”

President Bahls is co-teaching the course alongside Rock Island resident and Augustana alumna Nancy Johnson, a senior advancement consultant for the college, in person and virtually for five days per week over the four-week term.

Johnson previously worked with President Bahls on seven major capital campaigns. Together, they’ve been fundraising for a total of 58 years.

Although he hasn’t set foot in a classroom since 2012, President Bahls has learned the tips and tricks of virtual learning and is looking forward to connecting with students both behind a mask and on a screen.

“One of the most important aspects of an Augustana student’s experience is being in the classroom, knowing their professors, challenging their peers, exploring new passions and joyfully uncovering their sense of purpose,” said President Bahls. “I’m glad COVID hasn’t changed my plans to be part of J-term and to work with our students.”

President Bahls ranks as one of the all-time most effective fundraisers in the Quad Cities, raising a total of nearly $300 million during his 18-year tenure at the college. He says now is a better time than ever for students to learn about fundraising.

“Nonprofit organizations around the globe are going to look to smart, creative, caring professionals when the pandemic subsides,” said President Bahls. “Fundraisers and philanthropists will be vital to the recovery of many organizations, so the timing of this class may actually be ideal.”

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