Just 13 months after famed aviator Charles Lindbergh visited the Quad-Cities, Charles Lindberg was born Sept. 11, 1928 in Rock Island.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Augustana College, where he was debate team captain, in 1950. Charles and his younger brother Peter (a 1961 Augie alum) would profoundly influence the private Rock Island school for years to come, including a new $18-million center for health and human performance that’s now going up — to help prepare students for growing career fields.

Kent Barnds

While site work for the 52,000-square-foot Peter J. Lindberg, M.D., Center for Health and Human Performance on 7th Avenue began in February, a ceremonial groundbreaking planned for April 23 was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and likely will take place in the fall, Kent Barnds, the college’s executive vice president of external relations, said this week.

“We do want to celebrate this with people who have supported the project, who are excited about the project, and as we always do with groundbreakings, we also want to make sure that the Augustana students who will benefit most from a project like this are available to participate in the excitement,” he said.

“The project is really a comprehensive building that first and foremost focuses on new academic programs – kinesiology and an expansion of our public health program.”

The Lindberg Center’s main objective will be to prepare graduates for health-related careers requiring a major in public health or kinesiology – the study of human movement, a new major at Augustana.

The multifaceted building – planned to open in spring 2021 – will feature:

·       Five state-of-the-art classrooms

·       Two laboratories/active learning spaces

·       Eight offices, including spaces for the executive director of the center, the director of student well-being, and faculty in kinesiology and public health

·       Student and faculty gathering and studying spaces

·       Hydrotherapy rehabilitation pool

·       Meeting room and locker rooms

·       State-of-the-art 10-lane, 25-yard, 7-foot depth pool

·       250-seat spectator viewing area

·       Student meditation room

·       Offices for the aquatic center director, swimming and water polo coaches

“There are a couple of reasons this is a really important project for Augustana,” Barnds said. “First and foremost, it’s a project that represents what is best about a liberal-arts education in a residential environment. The blending of the in-classroom and out-of-classroom experiences for our students.”

It will house an aquatic center and natatorium, replacing the pool in the adjacent Carver P.E. Center, bringing with it new teams in men’s and women’s water polo. Plans are yet to be determined what to do with the current pool area.

Barnds noted kinesiology majors can go on to a variety of careers – such as physician assistants, athletic trainers, physical therapy, sports and fitness management, exercise therapy, sports medicine, nutrition and wellness counseling, rehabilitation therapy or chiropractic.

Lindberg Center

“Careers in public health and kinesiology are growing significantly throughout the United States,” he said. “As a result, we want to be on the front end of educating students who will go into those careers, because we believe their liberal-arts education, their creative problem-solving, their understanding of the human element and their excellent communication skills will prepare them well to excel in these careers.”

The center will also focus on mental health, as Augie’s first director of student well-being – who started last summer – will be housed there, Barnds said.

“We’re taking a holistic approach that reflects our mission statement at Augustana College, which is to educate students in mind, body and spirit. There will also be a spiritual component. We have a meditation room that’s planned in the center and we hope this can be a place where students can not only focus on mind and body, but also on spirit.”

Last July, Farrah Roberts joined Augustana as the college’s first director of student well-being and resiliency.

Research shows that mentally healthy students have better grades, a higher graduation rate and a better all-around college experience.

“With student success and a positive experience being foundational elements for colleges, it’s important to provide programs and services that support those desired outcomes and with this position, Augustana is committing to that,” said Wes Brooks, vice president and dean of student life. “I’m excited to have Farrah’s experience, ability and passion for the work joining our campus community.”

Roberts said that her goals center around awareness, understanding and promotion of well-being as it relates to student life.

“I want to help students become more emotionally resilient and able to successfully navigate the challenges and pressures of college,” she said.

Roberts will focus on developing, planning, implementing and evaluating programs to address student well-being, including resiliency, substance abuse and suicide prevention.

Lindberg Center

So far, 25 students have declared kinesiology as their major, Barnds said, working under the first faculty member, Shaun Edmonds, assistant professor of kinesiology. He has a Ph.D. in kinesiology from the University of Maryland-College Park.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, students with a kinesiology background could fill jobs in five of the 20 fastest-growing occupations.

“This program listens to the needs and wants of our current students, as well as prospective students,” said Kimberly Murphy, associate professor of biology. “It also allows us to expand upon diverse course offerings that already exist here at Augustana.”

Augie’s growing public health program will continue to expand in the new center, offering tracks in health education and promotion, epidemiology, environmental health, biostatistics and data analytics, and health policy and administration.

Public health is a fast-growing field that appeals to students interested in career fields in anthropology, biology, communication studies, environmental studies, ethics, geography, health economics, political science, sociology and women’s and gender studies.

“The new programming and the new center support a grand vision for our students and ultimately our graduates to make a difference in the world,” Barnds said. “It also builds on Augustana’s national reputation for providing an undergraduate education to professionals who both treat and help prevent illness.”

“We were thrilled to hear about Augustana’s investment in this program,” said Jordan Voigt (’09), president of Genesis Medical Center in Davenport. “The issues and needs around health care continue to grow more and more, here in the community and nationally, as well. The value of having Augustana graduates who are well-rounded critical thinkers is an asset not only here at Genesis, but in the community overall.”

A supportive foundation makes the campus bloom

The new center continues a long partnership among the school, the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation, and the Lindberg brothers (both Illinois natives).

Austin Knowlton

The Ohio-based foundation made a lead gift of $8 million in support of this project, and has committed to matching up to $1 million more that the college can raise, Barnds said.

Austin Knowlton (who died in 2003 at age 93) was owner of the Knowlton Construction Company, started in Bellefontaine, Ohio in 1937. It built over 600 significant construction projects throughout Ohio and the Midwest, including school buildings, hospitals, libraries and post offices.

An avid sportsman, Knowlton was an original founding partner of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, where he served as chairman. He also held a major ownership interest in baseball’s Cincinnati Reds for many years.

A graduate of The Ohio State University, Knowlton in 1981 established his namesake foundation to empower future generations of students and to support the institutions dedicated to educating them.

Given his passion for football, the foundation partnered with Augustana in 2013 to create the Austin E. Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex, which includes the Charles D. Lindberg Stadium and the Ken Anderson Club, which have been called “the best Division III football and track & field facilities in the nation,” according to aekfoundation.org.

In addition to the $9-million grant for these athletic facilities, Austin Knowlton also funded Augustana’s large Austin E. Knowlton Memorial Scholarship, as well as the college’s Honors program.

“One of his lifelong friends was Charlie Lindberg,” who was a Cincinnati lawyer, a founding trustee of the Knowlton Foundation, and became Augie’s longest-serving trustee, on the board for 29 years, Barnds said.

In 1953, Lindberg received his law degree from Yale Law School, and in 2000 received an honorary doctorate from Augustana.

Barnds got to know him well over the years. “He was quite a character, an incredible supporter and advocate for Augustana.”

Charles Lindberg

Charles didn’t survive to see the opening of the new athletic complex, as he passed away on July 20, 2013, at the age of 84. Extremely active in serving his community, his board service included with the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals.

Lindberg also served on the board of the Knowlton Foundation. “Mr. Knowlton was impressed by Augustana and Mr. Lindberg, and impressed by our mission,” Barnds said. “After both passed, the foundation has continued to support Augustana and encouraged us to think big about things.”

“Charlie’s service to his community and in particular to Augustana was truly remarkable,” Augustana president Steve Bahls said after his death, according to bizjournals.com. “As our longest-serving trustee ever, his insight was always invaluable to guiding the college… Charlie lived a life of distinction while serving those around him.”

A second Lindberg’s emphasis on health

Peter J. Lindberg, M.D., devoted his life to serving others as a medical oncologist. He graduated from Augustana in 1961 and then the University of Chicago Medical School.

Dr. Lindberg passed away from esophageal cancer on Sept. 13, 2016, at 76. Mary, his wife of 56 years, was by his side. The following is from the obituary written by one of his daughters, Katherine Lindberg.

Born in Waukegan, Ill., Peter’s father died when he was 11, and this further fueled his desire to save people. At the University of Chicago Medical School, he graduated at the top of his class, and completed his internal medicine residency at Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital.

Peter was an Air Force captain in New Mexico in the mid-1960s. He practiced internal medicine and hematology at Los Alamos Medical Center (LAMC) starting in 1972.

As the field of oncology developed, Peter concentrated on prostate cancer. “He found the challenge of caring for men with this disease to be particularly rewarding, and he dedicated much of his later career to this specialty,” his obit said. After serving LAMC for more than 40 years, Peter joined the New Mexico Cancer Center in Albuquerque in 2014.

Peter and Mary Lindberg

“He was a skilled healer and derived great meaning from the practice of medicine. His patients were extremely important to him, occupying a place of preeminence in his life,” Katherine wrote. “He relentlessly sought the most effective treatment for each individual and prayed for his patients daily. He continued to practice until shortly before his death.

“Peter was filled with love — for his wife, for his children, for his grandchildren, for his friends of many decades, for his patients, for his colleagues, for his pastors and fellow congregants and choir members at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, for bicycling and for his border collies. He truly wanted other people to be happy, and would do whatever he could to make that so.”

Two of Peter’s nephews, Eric and John, are trustees of the Knowlton Foundation, and “both have a deep admiration for Peter and his work,” Barnds said. “He was a very humble man, but also a man who was liberally educated and was interested in holistic health, and they thought this center would be a perfect fit and a way to honor Dr. Lindberg’s exceptional career over the course of his lifetime.”

Peter was very close to Augustana, and spoke fondly of his time there, which prepared him for his life and his career, Barnds said. He met Dr. Lindberg once, at the dedication of the Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex.

College leaders are working with other donors and foundations on additional funding for the new center, and plan to launch a public fundraising campaign this fall.


Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.