Updated: Gustavus Adolphus President Jack Ohle retiring

Ohle (Gustavus Adolphus College)

Update: I just got off the phone with President Ohle. He said his decision to retire had nothing to do with recent tensions, but did acknowledge the clash, calling it all part of running a campus.

He told me:

“You have to accept and understand that there always will be differences, and the debate will always take place. We probably weren’t listening. I would say we weren’t listening enough to some of the voices.”

Ohle said he will move to Des Moines, but has no plans to work full-time in higher education.

The provost of Gustavus Adolphus College has confirmed that President Jack Ohle — who recently faced calls for his ouster — has announced he’s retiring at the end of the next academic year.

I have a call out to President Ohle asking for comment.

Here’s an email I received prior to the confirmation:

To:      The Gustavus Community, Alumni, and Friends

From:  Chair of the Board of Trustees George G. Hicks

Jack R. Ohle, the 16th President of Gustavus Adolphus College, has announced his retirement effective at the end of the 2013-14 academic year when he will complete his sixth year as president of the College.  He began his service to Gustavus on July 1, 2008, and will officially retire on June 30, 2014.

Ohle submitted, and the Board accepted, a letter announcing his retirement to the Board of Trustees at its regular quarterly meeting last weekend.

During the past five years, Ohle presided over an ambitious agenda established by the Board of Trustees to ensure the future of Gustavus.  He engaged the Board of Trustees, the faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, and the church constituents in a planning effort, Commission Gustavus 150, a strategic constituent-based planning process. The commission comprised eight task forces that examined aspects of the College’s strategic mission, core values, and future aspirations.  Implementation of Commission Gustavus 150 recommendations is well under way.  Highlights include:

  • Completion of an academic strategic plan incorporating the many academic-related recommendations of the Commission.
  • Major building initiatives, including the recent completion of Beck Academic Hall, a Sesquicentennial Plaza, and the College’s West Mall as well as plans for the renovation of the Anderson Social Science Center and an addition to and complete renovation of the Nobel Hall of Science.
  • Formal planning to celebrate the College’s Sesquicentennial in 2011-12 with an announcement of the College’s largest comprehensive fundraising program, Campaign Gustavus, and a visit by Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden.
  • Engaging hundreds of alumni, friends, and church constituents on national advisory boards and in key volunteer positions to help advance the College in the future.

Other accomplishments during his tenure at Gustavus include:

  • The largest single gift in the College’s history
  • The creation of six new endowed faculty chairs
  • Creation of the Center for Servant Leadership, engaging students, faculty, and staff in helping develop vocation-centered learning opportunities
  • The largest incoming class in the College’s history in 2011
  • Expanding the enrollment management concepts of recruitment, retention, and financial aid to increase and stabilize enrollment
  • Enhancement of the relationship with Sweden, The Royal Court, and the Nobel Foundation
  • Significant growth in the College’s endowment, which is currently at its highest level in the College’s history at more than $120 million

“I will do all I can in this last year of my presidency to provide the leadership necessary for the College to continue its progress,” said Ohle. “Our priorities will include the continued implementation of the recommendations of Commission Gustavus 150 and work toward the successful completion of Campaign Gustavus and reach its goal of $150 million by Homecoming 2015. (At the end of June 2013, gifts and commitments to the campaign exceeded $107 million.)  The senior staff will continue to work with the faculty to align the recommendations of Commission Gustavus 150 with the Academic Strategic Plan.  We will be good stewards of the College’s resources and continue to build an even stronger financial base for the College.”

President Ohle has spent more than 40 years in higher education administration.  At his retirement he will have concluded 16 years of service as president of two distinguished colleges of the Lutheran Church. Prior to accepting the presidency at Gustavus, he served as president of Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa for ten years.

Born and raised in Ohio, Ohle earned his undergraduate degree from Ohio Northern University, in Ada, Ohio.  He did graduate work at Hamma School of Theology in Springfield, Ohio, before completing a master of arts degree in higher education administration from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. He holds two honorary doctorate degrees, one from his alma mater, Ohio Northern, and one from Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.

“We thank President Ohle for his outstanding leadership during his presidency at Gustavus,” said incoming Board Chair George G. Hicks, a 1975 graduate of the College.  “The work he and his senior staff have accomplished in the areas of strategic planning, fundraising, board governance, branding and marketing, and student recruitment have advanced the College and strengthened the academic programs in bold and important ways during the most significant economic downturn in the country since the Great Depression.  As a result of Jack’s leadership and hard work, the College is well positioned for future success as the Board prepares to search for its 17th president.”

The Board of Trustees will be initiating a search to find President Ohle’s successor who will begin serving the College in the summer of 2014.  Details of the search process will be announced in the near future.

  • Gustie

    Of course he’s going to say his departure has nothing to do with the climate on campus that he created. But everyone who has heard him bluster about how he’s not leaving until Nobel Hall is rebuilt knows full well that this “retirement” is nothing more than the trustees allowing him to save face as they finally kick him out the door.