Augustana University to Launch First Financial Technology Program of its Kind in the Region

NewsPress Releases
Published: 26 January 2023
Augustana University

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Jan. 26, 2023 — Augustana is excited to announce that the university will launch a new academic program, Augustana University Fintech Program by Pathward™, beginning in Fall 2023. With support from Augustana’s strategic partner, Pathward™, N.A. (formerly MetaBank, N.A.), the financial technology major will be the first of its kind in the region.

“The program is immediately going to stand out and appeal to students who are looking for practical knowledge that applies to the workforce,” said Dr. Raymond Leach, who was named inaugural director of Augustana University Fintech Program by Pathward. “The skill sets and tools we're going to be able to teach them — that specific bundling of computer programming and data analytics, and the topics specific to fintech, along with internships — are going to be huge.”

Leach joined the Augustana School of Business and Computer Science Department in August 2020 as an assistant professor of computer science and business administration. Prior to Augustana, Leach served as a research associate at the Claremont Institute for Economic Policy Studies and statistics instructor at California State University, Los Angeles. He earned a Ph.D. and Master of Arts in economics from Claremont Graduate University and Bachelor of Science in economics and statistics from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He also earned a certificate in machine learning from Stanford University.

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Augustana University to bring the fintech program to fruition,” said Pathward CEO Brett Pharr. “The forward-thinking program is a win for students, a win for the university and a win for the business community.”

The Augustana University Fintech Program by Pathward is interdisciplinary as students will take accounting, finance, computer science, statistics and economics courses, along with three new courses designed specifically for the program. The first includes an introductory course, which will provide an overview of the four verticals or specializations that make up the financial technology world. The other two will take an in-depth look at the functions of commercial banks, regulations of banking services and emerging bank technologies. There also will be an internship component to the program arranged by Augustana with local companies.

“To have a partner come to Augustana and say, ‘We want to build this program from the ground up with you’ — that’s really cool,” said Augustana Provost & Executive Vice President Dr. Colin Irvine.

Augustana University Fintech Program by Pathward is supported by a team of corporations serving as an advisory board — MarketBeat, The Bancorp, CAPITAL Services, Goal Solutions, PREMIER Bankcard and Central Payments, as well as Pathward.

The first course is set to be offered in Fall 2023, and the first cohort is projected to graduate in 2027.

For more information about the program, visit


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About Pathward™

Pathward™, N.A., a national bank, is a subsidiary of Pathward Financial, Inc.™ (Nasdaq: CASH). Pathward is a U.S.-based financial empowerment company driven by its purpose to power financial inclusion for all. Pathward strives to increase financial availability, choice and opportunity across our Banking as a Service and Commercial Finance business lines. The strategic business lines provide end-to-end support to individuals and businesses. Learn more at


About Augustana University

Founded in 1860, Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is a selective, comprehensive university affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). With more than 100 majors, minors and pre-professional programs for undergraduates — along with graduate degree and continuing education programs — Augustana is committed to enriching lives and fostering development by combining a foundation in the liberal arts with professional skill and advanced study.

Nationally recognized for academic excellence, student life, graduate outcomes and affordability, Augustana serves nearly 2,100 students from 37 states and 49 foreign countries. Most are part of our residential community and call our 100-acre campus home. Our graduate and continuing education programs serve students during times that are convenient for adult learners. For more information about Augustana University, visit


Media Relations Contact:


Jill Wilson

Director of Public Relations & Communications, Augustana University



Courtney Heidelberg

Public Relations Manager, Pathward


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