Message from the president: This is a 'last, best' place
A last best place
One of my favorite books over the years has been "The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology," edited by William Kittredge and Annick Smith.
The book is a wonderful exploration of the peoples, history, geography and literature of the State of Montana that combine to make it one of the last, best places in the United States. Having started my academic career as a law professor in Montana, I agree with this characterization. Kittredge borrowed the idea from Abraham Lincoln, who in his annual message to Congress delivered on December 1, 1862, referred to the United States as the “last, best hope of earth.”
Within higher education, liberal arts colleges certainly deserve the badge of the last, best place.
Nowhere else in America do students study together in intentional community with faculty in small classes, most with fewer than 20 students. These are places in which students live together, study together, and recreate together in a way that creates an ideal environment for growing in mind, spirit and body. Faculty members are primarily members of the college, not siloed departments, together focusing on providing students with an outstanding experience. And the learning outcomes at our liberal arts colleges result in much deeper disciplinary knowledge, and much better preparation for success.
At Augustana, we leverage our living, learning community to create higher-order outcomes of collaborative leadership, creative thinking, ethical citizenship and intellectual curiosity.
Ensuring Augustana remains one of the last, best places in higher education requires the commitment of all members of our community—students who embrace the liberal arts, faculty and staff with an uncommon commitment to crafting an education that responds to the differing needs of our students, a board commitment to ensuring fidelity to mission, and graduates committed to supporting their alma mater.
Together we are stewards of Augustana, one of the last, best places in higher education.