The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 7, 2014

Rebecca Bergman takes over as president at Gustavus

First female president leaves 26-year career in biomedical engineering

ST. PETER — Tuesday marks one week since Rebecca Bergman took over as the 17th president at Gustavus Adolphus College, and already she's been working earnestly at getting to know her now second home.

Every day she has tried to drive up a new side street on her way to campus, a bit of daily morning homework to acquaint herself with St. Peter neighborhoods. On campus, she's been busy doing everything from learning about summer renovation projects to choosing new carpeting for the president's house, where she plans to live on weekdays.

Bergman — whose family home is in North Oaks — has also been taking lots of campus tours.

“The best part was when I took a campus tour with one of our student tour guides, so I could understand how a prospective student would be exposed to campus,” said Bergman, 57, the first female president in Gustavus' 152-year history.

With a background in biomedical engineering, Bergman's career bucket list didn't include being a college president. But having gotten to know Gustavus both as a Board of Trustee member, as well as a mother of two Gusties, she said she couldn't be happier with her new path.

“I really have felt that this is a calling,” said Bergman, who was a senior executive at Minneapolis-based Medtronic Inc. “I talked about the fact that this wasn't in my master plan, and yet here I am, and I'm thrilled to be here. I want to affirm that at every step of the way. I'm here to help this college be as excellent as it can be and true to its mission.”

Bergman's presidency comes at the end of what some deemed to be a tense time on campus regarding former President Jack Ohle's relationship with the faculty. He was criticized publicly for his lack of rapport and for his business-minded administration.

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