The Norwegian immigrants who founded St. Olaf College knew the value of education when they laid the groundwork for the college in 1874. They understood that education would not only provide their children and grandchildren with a brighter future, it would improve the community in which they lived through the varied contributions of those they educated. The same is still true today.
While St. Olaf students now come from a variety of backgrounds and our definition of “community” has become a global one, the college remains committed to inspiring and preparing generations of Oles to go forth and make a meaningful difference in the world.
Many things have changed over the past 140 years but the core mission of the college has not. St. Olaf aspires to the highest academic standards in providing an exceptional educational experience that reflects both the dedicated efforts of a knowledgeable and caring faculty and the remarkable influence of inquisitive young adults living and learning together in community. Informed by the college’s Lutheran values and tradition, a St. Olaf education today, as it has from the beginning, launches graduates on a path to leadership — in their own lives, their chosen vocations, and their communities — and to becoming responsible and knowledgeable citizens of the world.
Now, more than ever, our society needs informed leaders in all walks of life who are capable of disciplined, creative thinking; leaders with empathy toward others and strong ethics and values to guide them. St. Olaf College is uniquely positioned to prepare those leaders of tomorrow. Striving to achieve an even stronger and more dynamic St. Olaf College is not only an investment in the college’s future but also, through our graduates, the future of the larger world in which we live.
The Challenges We Face
The next decade will be a transformative period in the history of St. Olaf College. As we look to the sesquicentennial of the college in 2024, we face significant challenges and unparalleled opportunities. Higher education in America is witnessing rapid change in an uncertain financial climate, making it more important than ever that colleges become agile and adaptive if they are to survive and prosper.
For St. Olaf to grow and prosper in the years ahead, we must address four imperatives.
- Promoting Access and Affordability
- Improving Teaching and Learning
- Better Preparing Students for Life
- Securing St. Olaf’s Financial Future
Investing in a Promising Future
As we look forward to St. Olaf’s sesquicentennial with confidence and optimism, we honor not only the past and take pride in the college of today, but remain steadfast in our collective commitment to advancing the enduring value of what we do and how that shapes the lives of our students.
In many ways, large and small, the selfless philanthropy of alumni and friends of the college allows St. Olaf to continue to excel and adapt in line with our mission and identity. With such philanthropic support, St. Olaf will be well positioned to embrace an uncertain future and flourish for many decades to come; carrying forward the important work we do in preparing the leaders of tomorrow.