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Board of Trustees of Gustavus Adolphus College: End the presidency of Jack Ohle by the end of this academic year

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We, as students of Gustavus Adolphus College (alumni petition linked at the bottom), have been challenged and changed by this community. It has helped us become the people we are today, and for that we love Gustavus. Because of our love for this community, we are deeply pained by the damage done to it by President Jack Ohle. For over four years, he has ignored other voices who called for change. It has become clear he will neither change his leadership style, nor will he listen in a meaningful way to the concerns of this community. We have grown impatient and angry as his transgressions have continued unchecked. His leadership has undermined the pillars on which this community stands:

(Citations, unless otherwise noted, can be found at


In his first year as president, evidence suggests he drove away the provost, two academic deans, and the long-term Vice-President of Student Life. The deans “cited a ‘lack of presidential support’ and that it would be ‘disingenuous to pursue a role when [they] did not believe [they could] succeed.'” (“What’s Happening At Gustavus”).

His budget allocations prioritize the external image of Gustavus over the internal community and academics, pursuing the business ventures of Gustavus over its essence as an institute of higher education. One example is the addition of a sculpture to campus while academic department allocations are slashed.

He reduces the focus and morale of our educators, who feel “drained,” “depressed,” “heartbroken,” “overworked,” and “embarrass[ed]” for Gustavus (“Faculty Survey Executive Summary”).

He reallocated half of the senior art studio space to the Sesquicentennial Sculptor against the will of the Art and Art History department, resulting in a closet as the workspace for senior projects (explained by Art Professor Priscilla Briggs at the Dec. 14, 2012 Faculty meeting).


Concerning Justice, Gustavus’ Mission Statement explains, “Relations within the College community are guided by high moral principles.” During his presidency, faculty have been threatened with legal action for investigating and speaking out concerning Ohle (“Suit of Armor”).


He has demonstrated, over years, his inability and/or unwillingness to improve or change his modes of decision-making and communication. This demonstrates, to an appalling degree, a violation of the tenet of Service, thus explained in the college Mission Statement: “We embrace the biblical notion that true leadership expresses itself in service to others” (


He has disrespected the religious tradition and life of the college by replacing our full-time faculty cantor and organ instructor, Chad Fothergill, and replacing him with a unilaterally appointed, part-time non-faculty cantor (“A Public Statement Concerning the Christ Chapel Cantorate”).


He makes decisions unilaterally, single-handedly cancelling the search process for the Bernhardson Distinguished Endowed Chair of Lutheran Studies, in direct violation of the Faculty Manual (“A Finding of the Gustavus Faculty Senate”).

He failed to attend key budget meetings during the 2012 budgeting process, a central part of his presidential duties (as explained by Physics Professor Chuck Niederriter at the December 14, 2012 Faculty meeting).

He has undermined trust and transparency in the budgeting process, withholding budget information, using divisive rhetoric, and “blindsiding key players” (“Faculty Statement of Concern 2012”).

Under his administration, concerned students have been regularly belittled, told that the concerns of this community are not our concerns, and that we do not know the difference between student and faculty concerns.

He has ignored requests by both faculty and students to resign.

THEREFORE, we formally call for an end to the Presidency of Jack Ohle by the conclusion of this academic year, either by his resignation, or by action of the Board of Trustees.


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