Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Response to Gustavus Board of Trustees

I haven't posted to this in a VERY long time however, my blood is boiling after receiving an email from Gustavus' Board of Trustees regarding a recent Star Tribune article regarding the failures of and loss of confidence in, my Alma Mater's President ( The letter to alums is posted in its entirety below (after my response)...

This is the letter that Gustavus Adolphus College Board of Trustees issues to eliminate our concerns? The "blind attitude" and "incestuous nature" of GAC leadership is sickening... In summary, we are being told to merely continue contributing and "trust" that everything is in order or, will inevitably work itself out... 

Your letter will infuriate more than any Star Tribune article... If nothing else (and, perhaps a good thing at the end of the day for Alum involvement), I plan to dedicate some valuable time ensuring that administrative activities and concerns are properly disclosed and my Alma Mater strengthens its reputation of quality and progress.

The 'gossipy chatter' of a few is one thing-- the concerns from the "pulse of our campus" are another. Your letter neglects to acknowledge the severity of this issue and, while I would suggest a better crisis management firm, ultimately the onus (as is so often the case with GAC leadership) will need to fall in the laps of those who remain committed and truly care. Dollars are nice and necessary however, they will not continue to flow (through contributions or tuition) if the ethos of Gustavus continues to suffer.

I appreciate your time and look forward to addressing this issue in the immediate.


Dear Gustavus Alumni, 
Gustavus Adolphus College has been in the news recently in regard to concerns about the College’s governance and leadership.  On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we write you, our valued alumni, to provide background and context to the concerns being expressed.  All institutions of higher education are in an ever more rapidly changing environment.  We are addressing those concerns brought on by the challenges inherent with major institutional change across the breadth of higher education.  By doing so, we hope to build on the significant successes achieved by our alma mater in recent years. 
In these challenging times in higher education, technology and online learning are confronting the traditional methods of teaching at a residential, liberal arts college.  Concerns have also been raised about rising costs in private education as it relates to the challenges being faced nationally.  Despite these challenges, Gustavus continues to thrive and remains one of the top private liberal arts colleges in the United States.
By its very nature, a college campus is a diverse mix of individuals and opinions and Gustavus is no exception.  It is a natural process to openly engage in civil discourse about divergent opinions in the way in which an institution of higher education is governed. The Board of Trustees, through the governance model we developed over the past few years, has been seeking more input from faculty, staff, and students to make sure the appropriate conversations and discussions are held so that the institution will continue to move forward.
As a Board, we have listened and are hearing the concerns expressed on and off campus and will continue to do so.  While we know there is work to be done, we are excited about the progress of the institution under the President’s leadership.  Be assured that the Board and President Ohle are committed to continuing to work with all of the College’s stakeholders.
Our alma mater has experienced significant success over the past few years.  The College has realized an increase in student enrollment as well as significant increases in both the number of applicants and the academic quality of those applicants.  In addition, thanks to the support of so many of you, there has been a substantial increase in giving to the College, including $4.5 million given to the 2011-12 Annual Fund by 9,925 donors and the kick-off of a $150 million comprehensive fundraising campaign of which over $100 million has already been raised.  All of this has contributed to our continued strong financial health.  We also received the largest gift in the history of the College that enabled us to construct a new academic building, which houses five academic departments.  However, with these successes we must all realize we cannot take future success for granted. 
The one thing we know for sure is that the Gustavus family is a tight-knit group that cares deeply about the success of the institution.  With your continued support and dialogue, we will stay committed and focused on Gustavus's core values and mission of educating students for lives of leadership and service.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees,
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Mark E. Bernhardson
Chair, Board of Trustees

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