ST. PETER — Rumors circulated the past year about who was behind the GustieLeaks website designed to release documents regarding President Jack Ohle’s administration at Gustavus Adolphus College.
The identity (or identities) still haven’t been made public with the recent closure of the site, but a message on GustieLeaks.com — the only document left up — indicates that numerous people connected to Gustavus submitted materials, edited content, maintained the website, and donated money to purchase the domain name. There’s no indication of whether faculty were involved, but some of the documents originally posted were faculty surveys not made public.
Faculty Senate Vice Chair Eric Dugdale said he never learned, even in rumors, who was behind the site. And when asked if he believed the creators had accomplished what they set out to do, he said he wasn’t in a position to comment.
“I don’t know who the persons behind the site were or what their goals were. They only posted documents without any editorial comment that would allow one to gauge their motivation, so I don’t feel in a position to speculate about their motives,” Dugdale said via email.
The site’s closure memo states in part: “GustieLeaks was a drastic measure for a drastic situation. We created this site as a hub of information, most of which was already publicly available, and some of which needed to be.
“This site provided information in a time when it was hard to know what to believe among the rumors and confusion. We brought together many disparate pieces of information on President Ohle’s leadership, aiming for simple truths and clarity, because we believed that if the Gustavus community saw the whole story, they would be compelled to push for a change of leadership.”
The memo writers seem to link GustieLeaks’ closure to Ohle’s announcement this summer that he will retire at the end of his contract June 30, 2014. Ohle said in June that his decision has to do with “timing” and being ready to move on and did not indicate that the perception of his administration factored in.
“We hope that the (Board of Trustees) has learned some lessons over the past five years. We need a president who will inspire trust in this community and instill hope in our future,” the memo states.
Faculty concerns regarding what they call Ohle’s business-minded leadership began years ago on campus. During the past year numerous faculty, students and alumni had been calling for Ohle’s resignation or for his ouster.
Complaints on GustieLeaks included his lack of concern for academic quality and disregard for faculty involvement and concerns, among other things. The site added fuel as the situation boiled over into the public forum and more students and alumni became involved in the conversation.
“It is time for a new conversation, and new questions,” the memo states. “‘What should our next president be like?’ ‘How should Gustavus compete as a liberal arts college in a rapidly changing world?’ ‘How do we heal a broken community?’ The work of rebuilding this community must be done face-to-face, not through leaked documents.”
In the meantime, a new site, GustieVoices.com, has been created by 2010 alum Dan Schulz-Jackson that publishes open letters to Ohle and the board, among other things. Anonymous content is accepted but not encouraged.
GustieVoices claims to be “a space for Gusties young and old to share their concerns and hopes with the Board of Trustees, President Jack Ohle, groups of students, alums, administrators, and faculty, and with the entire Gustavus community.”