UPDATE: FRIDAY 6:30 P.M.

Just months after faculty, students and alumni at Gustavus Adolphus College called for his resignation, Jack R. Ohle, the college's 16th president has announced he will retire June 30, 2014, when his contract expires. 

Ohle submitted, and the college's Board of Trustees accepted, a letter announcing his retirement at its regular quarterly meeting last weekend, according to a statement released by the college. 

In an interview with the Mankato Free Press Ohle said his decision had to do with timing. At 67, he will have worked in higher education administration for 44 years. Prior to accepting the presidency at Gustavus, he served as president of Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa for 10 years.

“You reach a time in life when you wish you didn't have to retire,” he told the Free Press. “(But) you could only work so long.”

Ohle began working for Gustavus in July 2008, making this upcoming year his sixth at the college. His career at the college has at times been tumultuous, with tensions rising to this surface earlier this year when students, faculty and alumni began circulating petitions both online and around campus in an effort to have the administrator removed. 

In January, a petition carrying 710 signatures was given to the Gustavus Board of Trustees, who in turn, promised to review Ohle's performance at the college. 

Complaints about Ohle were posted on an anonymous student-run website called GustieLeaks and a corresponding Twitter account and included several about Ohle's alleged lack of concern for academic quality and faculty involvement. News of his retirement has been posted in both places. 

In a statement released June 27, Ohle said he and senior staff will continue to work with faculty to meet academic and strategic goals and meet fundraising guidelines. 

"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 … We will be good stewards of the college’s resources and continue to build an even stronger financial base for the college."

Commission Gustavus 150 refers to a strategic planning commission formed in 2009 to make recommendations for the future advancement of the college.

A statement issued by the college highlights Ohle's achievements at Gustavus, including: major building initiatives, including the recent completion of Beck Academic Hall, a Sesquicentennial Plaza, and the college’s West Mall; reception of their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden; creation of sex new endowed faculty chairs; creation of the Center for Servant Leadership; and significant growth in the college's endowment, which is currently at its highest level in the college's history at more than $120 million.

The Board of Trustees will initiate a search to find Ohle's successor. Details of the search process will be announced in the near future.

"We thank President Ohle for his outstanding leadership during his presidency at Gustavus," said incoming Board Chair George G. Hicks. "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."

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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 in July 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 10 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.

"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.

Reach Regional Managing Editor Suzanne Rook at 507-333-3134. Follow her on Twitter @rooksuzy

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