W. Kent Barnds

W. Kent Barnds, Executive Vice President of the College and Vice President of Enrollment, Communication and Planning

W. Kent Barnds began his work at Augustana College as vice president of enrollment in summer of 2005, leading the offices of admissions, financial assistance, communication and marketing, and web services. In summer of 2008 his role expanded as the chief communication officer and strategist in the reorganized communication and marketing office. Barnds achieved his current position as executive vice president in November of 2012. He now leads a division of more than 40 professionals in the areas of admissions, financial assistance, media and public relations, brand advancement, web and print communications, and strategic and institutional planning. During the summer of 2012 he served as Acting President while President Steve Bahls was on sabbatical.

Some of Barnds’ significant achievements in enrollment at Augustana include expanding the applicant pool by more than 70%, increasing multicultural enrollment by 250%, out of state enrollment by 46%, and improving selectivity. He also led an institution-wide strategic planning process; heading the design of that process through a focus on enterprise risk management; led the task force to develop a five-year capital plan; assisted in the development of the concept and a model for a new Center for Student Life, with combined dining, student activities and the college library; and led the search for a new chief financial officer for Augustana College.

Over the past seven years, Barnds has gained national visibility as a thought leader in admissions, enrollment and higher education through publications and quotes in Inside Higher Ed, University Business Magazine, The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington Post, College & University, and elsewhere. He also has developed and implemented a positioning platform for the president of the college and other senior leaders to gain national visibility. Barnds’ public presentation topics over the years have ranged from transparency in communicating assessment data, to marketing and communicating institutional value and affordability, to writing a great college admissions essay.

Prior to his work at Augustana, Barnds he advanced from the role  of admissions counselor through a variety of admissions positions, including  dean of admissions and enrollment management at Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.

Kent received his B.A. from Gettysburg College and his M.S. in management from Regis University.

Kent Barnds was born Gering, Nebraska. He and his wife, Jennie, have three children, Martha, Sophie and Ben. Kent and Jennie are members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa. He also serves the Quad City community as a Rivermont Collegiate Board of Trustee member and enjoys traveling, cooking, jazz, Lyle Lovett, running and he believes “the option” remains the most exciting styled football offense.

Kent Barnds talks with Eric Rowell, Assistant Director of Admissions and Diversity Outreach at Augustana College, about the importance of considering general education courses when comparing colleges and universities.

Kent Barnds talks with Chris Vaughan, Chief Information Officer at Augustana College, about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.


Kent Barnds talks with Krista Rittenhouse from the Augustana College Advancement Department about what a college means when it says about “test optional."


Kent Barnds talks with Debbie Blaylock from the Augustana College Office of Communication and Marketing about what a college means when it talks about “demonstrated interest."


Kent Barnds talks with Anna Castro, Manager of Campus Experience at Augustana College and a parent with a student going through the college search process, about what to look for during a college visit.


Kent Barnds talks with Mike Pettis, Associate Director of Admissions at Augustana College, about what to do when a college "recommends" an interview.


Kent Barnds talks with Keri Rursh, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at Augustana College, about how to best translate all the claims and stats in a college's published materials.