Jack R. Ohle Named New President of Gustavus Adolphus College

Posted on April 25th, 2008 by

The Board of Trustees of Gustavus Adolphus College today elected Jack R. Ohle to be the College’s 15th president. Ohle, currently the president of Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, will succeed James L. Peterson, who is retiring after serving as president of the College since July 2003. Ohle will take office July 1, 2008.

At Wartburg, Ohle (pronounced OH-lee) oversaw significant growth and innovation while strongly emphasizing the College’s mission of service, leadership, and faith as a College of the Church. His tenure brought the completion of $104 million in capital improvements, including state-of-the-art centers for science and wellness. Fund raising climbed, with “Campaign Wartburg” achieving $90 million against an $88 million goal. Under Ohle, the College added 21 full-time faculty members, supporting more individual attention to students. The College expanded its campus ministry and began a vocational discernment program called “Discovering and Claiming Our Callings,” made possible through a $2.5 million grant from the Lilly Foundation. Ohle also opened a Center for Community Engagement. Throughout his decade in the presidency, relationships with alumni and parents strengthened, and the student body grew larger and more diverse.

Before accepting the presidency at Wartburg, Ohle served Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, for 11 years, first as vice president for institutional advancement and later as senior vice president for external affairs and secretary to the university. Prior to that, Ohle was vice president for advancement at Nebraska Wesleyan University for ten years. Other institutions served include Ohio Northern University and Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio.

After graduating from Ohio Northern University with a bachelor of arts in social work in 1969, Ohle did graduate work at Hamma School of Theology in Springfield, Ohio. He went on to complete a master of arts degree in higher education administration from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Ohle also holds an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.

Ohle, the third most senior president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Colleges and Universities, has chaired the executive committee of the Council of Presidents of the ELCA Colleges and Universities. He has also chaired both the Lutheran Educational Conference of North America (LECNA) Presidents’ Council and the board of trustees of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

“I welcome Jack Ohle to Gustavus. This is a great day for the College,” said Gustavus Board of Trustees Chair Jim Gale. “Jack has all the attributes that we were looking for in our next president. He has strong leadership skills, broad experience in higher education, a strong understanding of what makes Gustavus a special place, and innovative ideas to help move Gustavus forward as a first-class liberal arts institution.”

“I am truly grateful for the trust the presidential search committee and the Gustavus board of trustees has placed in me,” Ohle said. “I look forward to working with an outstanding faculty, staff, student body, and Gustavus alumni to reward that trust.”

The Gustavus appointment concludes a search launched in October 2007. Ohle is married to Kirsten Lindquist Ohle. The couple has three adult sons: Robert, John, and Thomas.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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