Augustana College was founded as Augustana College and Theological Seminary in 1860 by the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod. Located first in Chicago, it moved to Paxton, Illinois, in 1863 and to Rock Island, Illinois, its current home, in 1875.
After 1890 an increasingly large Swedish American community in America promoted a new institutional structure, including a lively Swedish-language press, many new churches, several colleges, and a network of ethnic organizations. The result was to foster with pride a sense of Swedishness in the United States. Thereby there emerged a self-confident Americanized generation. Augustana College put itself in the lead of the movement to affirm Swedish American identity. Early on all the students had been born in Sweden but by 1890 the second generation of American-born students predominated. They typically had white-collar or professional backgrounds; few were the sons and daughters of farmers and laborers. These middle class youth developed an idealized view of Sweden, characterized by romanticism, patriotism, and idealism, just like their counterparts across the Atlantic. The new generation was especially proud of the Swedish contributions to American democracy and the creation of a republic that promised liberty and destroyed the menace of slavery.
The college grew by donation of 5 acres (2.0 ha) on the south in 1886 and purchase, enabled by donation of C.J.A. Ericson, of 10–12 acres to the north in 1899.
In 1947, when Conrad Bergendoff was college president, the Augustana Seminary formally separated from Augustana College and became an independent body. It remained on the Rock Island campus until the 1960s, when the Seminary moved to Chicago. It merged with other Lutheran seminaries to form the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
Augustana ranks among the top 40 U.S. liberal arts colleges in the sciences, based on the number of graduates earning Ph.D.s. Students accepted to Augustana typically rank in the top 30% of their high school classes. The middle 50 percent of enrolled students for the class of 2012 scored 24–29 on the ACT, well above the national averages. Augustana College is considered highly selective. 73% of Augustana students graduate in four years and 78% graduate in six years.
The services offered through CORE (Careers, Opportunities, Research and Exploration) afford students an advantage in graduate school placement and the job market. Three distinguishing opportunities are: Augie Choice: $2000 offered to every student to support hands-on learning through research, an internship or international study; The Viking Scorecard: a career and graduate school preparation guide; A wide variety of faculty-led international programs ranging from 2 weeks to 3 months and covering all 7 continents.
Augustana currently has nearly 90 academic programs and fields of study including nine pre-professional and eight interdisciplinary programs:Academic programs
Accounting, Africana Studies, Anthropology, Applied Mathematics, Art, Art History, Astronomy, Biochemistry, Biology, Business Administration, Chinese, Chemistry, Classics, Communication Sciences & Disorders (including Speech Pathology and Audiology), Communication Studies, Computer Science, Creative Writing, Economics, Education, Engineering Physics, English, French, Geography, Geology, German, Graphic Design, History, International Business, Japanese, Landscape Architecture, Mathematics, Multimedia Journalism, Music, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Scandinavian, Sociology, Spanish, Theatre, World LiteraturePre-professional programs
Dentistry, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Veterinary MedicineInterdisciplinary programs
Africana Studies, Asian Studies, Environmental Management & Forestry, Environmental Studies, Latin American Studies, Medieval & Renaissance Studies, Neuroscience, Public Health, Women's & Gender StudiesCertifications
American Culture Exploration (for one-year international students whose academic focus is American life), Non-Profit Leadership Development Certificate
Old Main was constructed between 1884 and 1893. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On August 2, 2010, the New Science Building was officially named the Robert A. and Patricia K. Hanson Hall of Science after Robert Hanson, a former John Deere CEO. Hanson, who donated $8 million to the college, credits his success in life to his time spent at Augustana. The science building, dedicated in 1998, is the largest academic building serving approximately 700 students in 17 majors, minors and concentrations. The Hanson Hall of Science's facilities and resources include seven classrooms, 35 laboratories (including a cadaver lab), a 400 MHz liquid-and solid-state NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectrometer, scanning electron microscope, instrumentation for X-ray powder crystallography and a fully functioning 40-foot greenhouse.
Augustana has five traditional residence halls: Andreen Hall, Erickson Residence Center, Seminary Hall, Swanson Commons, and Westerlin Residence Center. All five of these residence halls are coeducational. The majority of first-year and sophomore-year students typically reside in one of these five residence halls. For upperclassmen, Augustana also offers Transitional Living Areas (TLAs), apartment-like complexes or traditional off-campus houses administered by the college's Office of Residential Life, in which Augustana students live. The school takes care of basic maintenance in these areas, some of which are House on the Hill, Naeseth, and Arbaugh Apartments. These areas usually have 2–6 students who share a bathroom, a kitchen, and other living spaces.
Th Fryxell Geology Museum, named after Augustana geologist Fritiof Fryxell, features a large collection of dinosaurs and fossils, rocks and mineral specimens. Displays include a complete skeleton of a Platecarpus "sea serpent", skulls of Parasaurolophus, Ankylosaurus, Apatosaurus, Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex and a 2-billion-year-old fossil. There is also a complete 22-foot long skeleton of Cryolophosaurus, a large crested carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Antarctica in 1991 by Augustana paleontologist William Hammer. The museum is located in the Swenson Hall of Geosciences and is open during the academic year. Admission is free.
Since 1950, Augustana has had a chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. The college also has non-"Greek" collegiate fraternal organizations, including Epsilon Tau Pi (ΕΤΠ)(Eagle Scouts), Alpha Phi Omega (APO) (service), Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) (music), Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (music), Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA) (Service), Alpha Psi Omega (ΑΨΩ) (theater), and others. The Omicron chapter of Phrateres, a non-exclusive, non-profit social-service club, was installed here in 1941. Between 1924 and 1967, 23 chapters of Phrateres were installed in universities across North America. (The chapter name "Omicron" was reused for the chapter installed at San José State University.)
Augustana has a local Greek system, which includes seven sororities Chi Alpha Pi (CAP), Chi Omega Gamma (COG), Delta Chi Theta (D-Chi), Phi Rho, Sigma Kappa Tau (KT), Sigma Pi Delta (Speed), and Zeta Phi Kappa (Zetas) and seven fraternities Alpha Sigma Xi (Alpha Sig), Beta Omega Sigma (BOS), Delta Omega Nu (DON), Gamma Alpha Beta (GAB), Omicron Sigma Omicron (OZO), Phi Omega Phi (Poobah), and Rho Nu Delta (Roundels).
Augustana has many other organizations, including a chapter of MENC: The National Association for Music Education, a National Band Association chapter, American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Paintball Team (NCPA), American String Teachers Association (ASTA), Psychology Club, Business Club, DDR Club, Anime Club, Asian Student Organization (ASO), Ladies of Vital Essence (L.O.V.E.), The Order of the Phoenix, Martial Arts Club, and Viking Pups, a club dedicated to training service dogs on campus.
The Augustana Vikings compete in the NCAA Division III College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW). The Vikings compete in a combined total of 22 male and female team sports, and five out of seven students compete in some form of varsity, club, or intramural sport. Between 1983 and 1986, the Augustana College football team won four consecutive Division III national championships under Coach Bob Reade. Coach Reade's overall winning percentage of 87% is second only to Larry Kehres and Knute Rockne on the all-time list. Augustana College was a member of the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 1912–1937.
Current varsity sports include: baseball, basketball (m/w), cross country (m/w), football, golf (m/w), lacrosse (m/w), soccer (m/w), softball, swimming (m/w), tennis (m/w), track & field (m/w), volleyball, wrestling.
AlumniWilliam Albracht (1975) – Vietnam War U.S. Army captain, recipient of three Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts
Dave "Gruber" Allen (1980) – television and film actor
Ken Anderson (1970) – NFL quarterback with the Cincinnati Bengals for 16 seasons
Brenda Barnes (1975) – former CEO of both Sara Lee and PepsiCo
Craig Blomberg (1977) – Bible scholar
Kevin Burns (1986) – Mayor of Geneva, Illinois
A. J. Carlson (BA.1898, MS. 1899) – Chairman of the Physiology Department at the University of Chicago
K. G. William Dahl (1907) – Lutheran pastor and author, founder of Bethphage Mission
Charlotte Erickson (1945) – historian
Lane Evans (1974) – former US Congressman (Illinois 17th District).
Patricia Peck Gossel, medical historian and curator
David Hultgren (1973) – former Illinois State Congressman (94th District)
Steven Kemenyffy (1964) – ceramic artist
Carl Marcus Olson (1932) – developed process to purify silicon for electronic use
Shem-Tov Sabag – Israeli Olympic marathoner
Thorsten Sellin (1915) – pioneer in scientific criminology
Theodore Emanuel Schmauk (1910) – Lutheran minister, educator, and author
Mark Schwiebert (1972) – Mayor of Rock Island, 1989–2009
Donald K. Sundquist (1957) – former US Congressman (1983–1985) and Governor of Tennessee
Carl Aaron Swensson (1877) – Lutheran minister and founder of Bethany College
Robert J. Swieringa (1964) – former member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and former Dean of the Johnson School at Cornell University
Daniel Tsui (1961) – Nobel Prize winner in physics
J. E. Wallace Wallin (1897) – psychologist and early advocate of special education
FacultyWilliam R. Hammer – paleontologist who found the first dinosaur, Cryolophosaurus, in Antarctica. The Fritiof M. Fryxell Chair in Geology.
Louise Meiszner (1924–2008) pianist who played with most major orchestras in the US and Europe