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'Dr. Tredway left behind an incredible legacy': Remembering Augustana's long-time president

Dr. Tredway served as president for 28 years before his retirement in 2003. After his passing on April 10, faculty reflect on his intellect and warmth.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — After the passing of long-time Augustana College president Dr. Thomas Tredway, one of his former students-turned-colleague says his legacy is one of intellect and warmth. 

Tredway served as the college's seventh president from 1975 to 2003. Over his 28 years as leader he helped expand the campus and buildings, grow the number of faculty members and increase Augustana's endowment. 

However, it's the more personal details of his life and his work — as well as the way he remembered so many details of others — that will be remembered the most, says Dr. Wendy Hilton-Morrow. 

She was a student at Augustana during Tredway's presidency before eventually becoming the dean of the college — a position Tredway once occupied himself. 

"He knew, even when I was a student, that I was studying Swedish," Hilton-Morrow laughed. "Not too long after I'd graduated, I'd ran into him and he said '
Är du gift nu?' Which means 'Are you married now?' And I just had this panic of oh my goodness! The president of Augustana expects me to speak Swedish!" 

Moments like that, she said, were never hard to find. 

Tredway was known for his sidewalk meetings and the way he carefully noted what each person mentioned — both mentally and physically on his paper calendar. 

"He knew who so many of us were, took an interest in us, knew what we were involved in, was so approachable and there was just so much respect for him," Hilton-Morrow said. 

His passion for Augustana, and the students and faculty that brought it to life, was always on display. Tredway had a reputation for being open, genuine and warm. 

"I really think his greatest legacy is his love of learning and knowledge," Hilton-Morrow said. "He thought it was important that young people study broadly and think deeply. And I think in his own life, having the opportunity to do that here for him was transformative and he wanted other students to have that same transformative experience." 

A renowned orator and intellectual, Hilton-Morrow joked that it wasn't exactly fun to follow him after a speech. However, he was captivating to listen to and constantly sought to bridge the gap in education between intellect and warmth. 

He also made himself available to whoever — and whatever — needed his attention. As a student, Hilton-Morrow remembers walking past Founders Hall and frequently seeing a muddy old English Sheepdog waiting outside. 

"And you knew that it was Dr. Tredway's! You would open the door and let the dog in," she laughed. "I think there's something there about how it doesn't matter if you showed up at the president's door a little muddy and disheveled. Somebody was going to open the door and let you in." 

Chatting with us in the library named after Tredway, she reflected on his love of learning and of the learners. For nearly three decades, he was a giant at Augustana, yet never put himself above others. 

It's that passion for knowledge and of the people around him that will live on. 

As Hilton-Morrow puts it, "That's a great legacy." 

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