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Policy on public statements and actions

Updated Dec. 2019, affirmed by President Andrea Talentino Oct. 2023

A variety of situations may arise in which Augustana College could be called upon to comment, lead discussions or otherwise take action on a matter of public interest. This action may include generating awareness of an issue or providing opportunities for discussion, reflection and public education. It also may include responding to student requests or inquiries on topics of interest to our community, Augustana is also asked, on occasion, to participate with other groups of colleges on amicus briefs to better educate courts of the interests of students and colleges like ours.

The determination of how or whether Augustana will engage in a particular opportunity or request for public action will be guided by the college’s mission, purpose and goals. When the college receives requests to respond on a matter of public interest, the college will begin by first inviting those making the requests, when appropriate, into dialogue.

Questions that must be considered include the following:

  • Is the topic or matter directly related to the college’s mission, purpose and goals?
  • Is it related to an element of the college’s strategic plan?
  • Will a public statement provide an opportunity to articulate the college’s mission, purpose and goals?
  • Can the college participate in a non-partisan manner?
  • Is there an effective platform from which to make the statement?

These questions and the circumstances under which the opportunity for public action arises will help determine whether the college engages, and the level of visibility for such engagement.

Lead (high) – The issue is directly tied to Augustana’s mission or vision, or represents an obvious strategic priority. Augustana provides high visibility and high public leadership.

Topics might include: Access to and readiness for higher education, government policy on education (often in conjunction with the Federation of Illinois Independent Colleges, the Council of Independent Colleges, or the National Association of Colleges and Universities), our commitment to diversity and inclusion as found in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategic Plan, safety or wellbeing issues impacting our students and the importance of freedom of expression on campus found in the President’s Statement of Free Expression at Augustana.

Engage (medium) – The issue is clearly a priority based on criteria and available platforms for advocacy. Augustana will take leadership, often with other partners.

Topics might include: Neighborhood infrastructure, charitable deduction and tax exemption, the college’s commitment to environmental responsibility, strengthening our community, issues of interfaith and intercultural understanding beyond Augustana College (Five Faith Commitments and ELCA Social Statements), public radio funding (WVIK), issues concerning the integrity of NCAA Division III athletics (the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin).

No Position – Augustana defers to others more suited to speak.

Topics might include: political campaigns and elections, ballot initiatives, elections within the ELCA, public pronouncements by the ELCA not related to the above.

In addition to these issues the college will consider who best speaks on issues. For matters of the highest priority, the President of the college often will speak. On others matters, the president may delegate to others. The President, the Chair of the Augustana College Board of Trustees, and the college’s senior communication officer are the only people authorized to speak on behalf of the college, unless one of these persons delegates that authority to another for that particular topic.

Note: Thanks to Augsburg College for providing the framework and some of the specifics of this statement.

Appendix: Mission, Purpose and Goals of Augustana College

Mission: Augustana College, deeply rooted in the liberal arts and sciences and an inclusive expression of Lutheran higher education, is committed to offering a challenging education that develops the qualities of mind, spirit and body necessary for students to discern their life’s calling of leadership and service in a diverse and changing world.

Purpose: The purpose of Augustana College is to afford an opportunity for a higher education in the liberal arts that provides for the development of all dimensions of human existence, in a manner consistent with the higher education values of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, As a community dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion, Augustana prizes interfaith engagement, commitment to justice, spiritual exploration, reasoned examination and vocational discernment, In carrying out this purpose, the corporation shall assure freedom of academic inquiry and expression.

Goals: The goals of Augustana College are:

  • To develop in qualified students the characteristics of a liberally-educated person through a program of general studies.
  • To develop in each student expertise in a major field of study.
  • To encourage each student to confront the fundamental spiritual issues of human life by discerning their individual and communal callings, supported by the academic study of religion and the campus ministry program.
  • To supplement students’ formal curricular programs with a full range of opportunities for personal growth and vocational discernment through participation in co-curricular activities.
  • To encourage the personal and social growth of students through its residential life programs and extracurricular activities.
  • To offer the church and local communities the benefit of its programs and staff within the context of its basic mission as an undergraduate liberal arts college.