Interim provost to take position in summer after current provost leaves

Interim provost to take position in summer after current provost leaves
Colin Irvine

Colin Irvine will leave his position as provost to become the president of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, this summer; professor Joel Johnson has been named acting provost in Irvine’s absence.

Irvine has served as provost since 2018. During that time, he oversaw both student and academic affairs and ensured the two were in line with the university’s core values while also preparing students for the world beyond Augustana.

“He is a champion for the liberal arts and interdisciplinary programs, and his focus on preparing students as global citizens will leave a lasting legacy,” President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin said.

Irvine has been credited with collaborating with faculty to rethink the university’s shared governance system, develop the student well-being model and navigate curriculum throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am proud of the fact that I have collaborated with different constituencies across the campus, including the faculty, to help us evolve and innovate,” Irvine said.

Irvine also worked with Augustana registrar Joni Krueger and other faculty members to establish academic programs like the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies — including the science writing and brewing minors — and the Doctorate of Physical Therapy.

“[The Doctorate of Physical Therapy] has been several years in the making and this summer will be the launch of the first cohort, so I’m excited about that and I’m committed to doing what I can on my end to ensure a successful launch,” Irvine said.

In an email sent to students from Herseth Sandlin on Feb. 14, Johnson was named acting provost.

“We are incredibly blessed that Dr. Johnson is willing to serve Augustana in this essential leadership position for the next two years,” Herseth Sandlin said in the email.

Johnson has been on Augustana’s campus since 2003, serving as the social sciences division chair, a government and international affairs professor and director of the department’s honors programs. Additionally, his help in developing both the university’s Viking Bold plan and response to the COVID-19 pandemic led to his being offered the provost position.

“Dr. Johnson understands the unique history and mission of Lutheran higher education, and the value of such education affords students, faculty and communities today,” Herseth Sadlin said.

During his time in office, Johnson said he wants to examine the role of artificial intelligence in higher education and make sure Augustana curriculum meets real workplace demands.

“One of the big things we’re doing as a faculty is making sure we are updating and revising our general education SOPHIA plan and making sure FYS is meeting our needs,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he looks forward to assuming the provost position and is deeply honored to have been considered.

“It’s a lot of responsibilities,” Johnson said. “It’s looking over the whole academic sector and making sure I am helping to empower educators to do their job well, ultimately for the sake of students. Everything comes down to the students at the end of the day.”

Johnson will be assuming provost responsibilities starting June 2023.

Before his departure, Irvine said he wanted to express his gratitude to the Augustana community.

“At every opportunity I’ve had to speak with prospective, current and graduating students, I’ve been struck by how genuine and thoughtful and caring the students are,” Irvine said.