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After overseeing unprecedented growth at Augustana College, and serving as one of the region’s leading Quad-Citizens, Steven Bahls is ready to step down and take a step back. On Thursday, June 30, he will retire as Augustana’s president to make way for incoming President Andrea Talentino, who assumes the role on Friday, July 1. Mr. Bahls, who joined the college in 2003, is not leaving campus completely, however. He will continue to teach classes at the Rock Island college. “I started my academic career 37 years ago teaching and writing, and I am lucky to have a chance to end my academic career in the same way,” Mr. Bahls told the QCBJ. “Interaction with students keeps me young in spirit and optimistic about our future. Augustana students, in particular, are a high-achieving bunch, and they have shaped me in many ways over the past two decades, and I look forward to that continuing.” Mr. Bahl’s commitment to the students, the college and the Quad Cities community he chose to call home for nearly 20 years are apparent in the historic changes that have taken place in both over the years. During his tenure, for example, Augustana has seen a $150 million campus building boom; expanded its courses and programs; grown and diversified its student population; expanded student opportunities; and raised record amounts of money for scholarships. Under Mr. Bahls’ leadership, the college also increased enrollment by 10% and grew the faculty by 13%. At the same time, Mr. Bahls took on critical community leadership roles including with the Illowa Council of Boy Scouts of America, Putnam Museum & Science Center and the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce. His roles with the chamber and other organizations designed to strengthen the region have been especially transformational in the Quad Cities. “While Steve, Kent Pilcher and I were serving as Tri-Chairs of Q2030, the community embraced the term ‘Quad Citizen,’” said Joe Slavens, president & CEO at Northwest Bank & Trust Co., Davenport. “As the president of a highly respected liberal arts college, it is not surprising that Steve’s approach to Quad Citizenship looks a great deal like citizenship in ancient Athens. Why? Because Steve has leaned into the duties of citizenship rather than leaning on its rights.” “He has been an active and respectful participant in public debate. Pulling us together rather than pushing us apart. He has taught so many so much while always remaining a student,” Mr. Slavens added. “Inside the region, he has regularly and effectively assumed a wide variety of volunteer leadership roles. Outside our region, he has continually advocated on our behalf; all this for the benefit of the Quad Cities region. We are cooler and more creative, connected and prosperous because of Steve. Best of all, he has challenged the Quad Cities to become even better. How do we do that? In my opinion, by every Quad Citizen modeling their community engagement after Steve’s.” For Mr. Bahls, that community involvement has been a labor of love.