The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 26, 2013

Disgruntlement with president rises to surface at Gustavus



“The series of crises that such incidents engender have distracted faculty from their focus on the college’s educational mission and have had significant negative impacts on morale,” Dugdale said.

Dugdale said the tension on campus has been brewing for years, long before GustieLeaks.

“I see the tension as a result of problems in presidential leadership, to which the faculty has been responding with concern,” Dugdale said. “... Certainly individual incidents have escalated the tension. But at its root is a lack of confidence in President Ohle’s leadership: poor financial stewardship; a lack of transparency in the budget process; failure to respect the college’s model of shared governance; decisions detrimental to the academic program; (and) an autocratic management style out of keeping with the core values of the college that has led to the resignation or departure of a number of key members of the leadership team.”

Dugdale said the Board of Trustees has not given an indication of the nature or timeline of a review of Ohle scheduled for this spring.

“... This vacuum in which the faculty is operating may help explain why the Faculty Senate sent the letter to the board that communicated the gravity and urgency of the situation,” Dugdale said.

Board reviewing issue

Ohle has deferred comments to the Board of Trustees. Through the college, Board Chair Mark Bernhardson issued a statement acknowledging that the board is in the process of reviewing the situation closely and plans to respond appropriately.

Bernhardson spoke with the faculty at their monthly meeting in December, and Ohle has responded personally to the Faculty Senate and many students directly, the statement says.

“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 disagreements in the way in which an institution of higher education is governed,” the statement goes on to say.

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