Tredway left indelible mark on Augustana College

Augustana College President Emeritus Thomas Tredway, who left an “indelible mark” on the liberal arts institution he led for 28 years, died Sunday, April 10, after a brief illness. He was 86.

Arrangements are being made for a memorial service on the Rock Island college’s campus, where as an undergraduate transfer student in 1957 Mr. Tredway also received his bachelor’s degree. He returned to Augustana as a history teacher in 1964.

“From the time he joined the faculty in 1964, through his five years as dean and especially during his 28 years as president, Tom Tredway left an indelible mark on this college,” President Steve Bahls said in a statement posted April 11. “His leadership made steadfast Augustana’s commitment to the liberal arts and sciences.”

According to his Augustana College biography, Mr. Tredway was born in a working-class neighborhood of North Tonawanda, New York. He attended North Park College in Chicago before transferring to Augustana. He later earned a master’s in history from the University of Illinois as well as a bachelor’s of divinity degree from Garrett Theological Seminary, and a doctorate in history from Northwestern University, both in Evanston, Illinois.

He took the helm at Augustana in 1975 during challenging times for the small liberal arts colleges which were facing stiff competition from junior colleges, state universities and an increasing focus on career training, his biography said. Student aid also did not keep up with student demand and costs soared. “Augustana faced individual challenges, including a weakening of the importance for its students of the Swedish ethnic connection and the Lutheran church,” the college website said.

Under President Tredway’s watch, however, enrollment at Augustana remained steady as the college continued its focus on providing a quality liberal arts education for a traditional college-age student body living on or near campus, the biography said.

During his tenure, Augustana also undertook major building projects including: a new library; a $23 million,100,000 square-foot building for biology, chemistry and physics; a $7.5 million center for computer science, mathematics and computer services; and extensive renovations to buildings that served geology and geography, foreign languages and the arts.

He also led the creation of Augustana’s foreign-study program, “visiting European sites himself to set up the first program,” his biography said.  And under his leadership the college endowment increased from $4 million to $72 million.

The former teacher grew the faculty from 113 in 1975 to 141 in 2003 and increased faculty input and collaboration in decision making, including two major revisions of curriculum. He also worked to ensure faculty salaries were in the upper 20% nationally, and to create teaching conditions that gave faculty time to work with students. He established the first fully-endowed academic chairs.

“His tireless work to build up the faculty and advance the academic program during a period of significant transformation in higher education will forever be recalled with gratitude by those who hold Augustana dear,” Mr. Bahls said.

After retiring from Augustana, Mr. Tredway maintained his connection with the college, including writing a history of Augustana and a biography of beloved “seminal” college leader Conrad Bergondoff, Mr. Bahls said.

“But my personal gratitude will always include the care he showed in always being available to me, especially in the early years of my presidency, providing invaluable context and counsel,” said Mr. Bahls, who will retire this year as the college’s eighth president.

“I know the community that is Augustana — which extends around the world and includes its alumni, students, faculty, staff, trustees and friends — joins me in extending our deepest condolences to Kate and the Tredway family,” he added. 

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