Gustavus Kicks Off its Sesquicentennial Celebration

Posted on September 30th, 2011 by

Gustavus Adolphus College officially kicked off its Sesquicentennial celebration on Friday, Sept. 30 in the Lund Center Arena as more than 750 alumni and friends of the College gathered for a kickoff dinner and celebration.

“This is a historic year for the College,” President Jack R. Ohle said. “The 150th anniversary is a significant milestone. All year long we will reflect on all that has been done in 150 years to help Gustavus become one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation, celebrate our history and be courageous enough to think boldly about our future, and engage our alumni and friends in building even a Greater Gustavus.”

President Ohle began the night by announcing that Saturday, Oct. 1 has been declared Gustavus Adolphus College Day in the state of Minnesota by Governor Mark Dayton and in the city of St. Peter by Mayor Tim Strand.

“We thank Governor Dayton, Mayor Strand, and others who have recognized the importance of such a milestone in Gustavus’s history and honor our Sesquicentennial celebration in public ways,” President Ohle said. “What an exciting way for us to kick off our 150th academic year.”

Lund Arena was transformed into an elegant event venue for Friday night's Sesquicentennial and Campaign Gustavus Kickoff Dinner.

Those in attendance at the kickoff dinner heard from five Gustavus alumni and friends who embody the College’s core values of Excellence, Community, Justice, Service, and Faith.

“The core values of Gustavus have been a part of the College’s living story long before they were specifically named in the early 1990s,” President Ohle said. “As you explore the history of the College, starting with the work of our founder, Pastor Eric Norelius, you find countless examples of ways those in the Gustavus community have expressed the College’s core values in their lives.”

Dr. Robert Brown ’83, Chief of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic, spoke about the importance of Excellence. Dr. Mary Nelson ’61, founder of Chicago-based community development organization Bethel New Life, spoke about the value of Community. Mayanthi Jayawardena ’11, a tsunami relief activist and former Chair of the College’s Building Bridges Conference, talked about the College’s value of Justice. Jonathan Poole ’01, Special Agent in the Violent Crimes Branch of the U.S. Department of State, was featured in a video on Service. The Rev. Dr. Herb Chilstrom, the first Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a Gustavus parent, and a St. Peter resident, talked about the importance of Faith.

President Ohle also announced that the Gustavus Board of Trustees has established an award to recognize the College’s Sesquicentennial anniversary and honor individuals who have made a significant difference in the life of the College.

The award, called “The Sesquicentennial Award,” acknowledges and pays tribute to living alumni, parents, friends, and retired faculty and staff who:

  • Through the actions in their personal or professional lives, have advanced the status of Gustavus as a premier liberal arts college;
  • Set a new precedent in the ways they have supported and advanced the mission of the College as an institution dedicated to preparing students for fulfilling lives of leadership and service in society;
  • Have brought particular dignity or honor to the College.

One hundred and fifty awards will be presented to individuals or couples throughout the Sesquicentennial year.

“The Gustavus story is comprised of generations of people who have worked hard for the College’s growth,” President Jack R. Ohle said. “It is an appropriate time for us to recognize a group of those individuals whose leadership has brought honor to the institution.”

President Ohle delivers remarks at Friday night's dinner.

President Ohle had the pleasure of presenting the first Sesquicentennial Awards at the Kickoff Dinner on Friday, Sept. 30, when he announced that all living Chairs of the Board of Trustees would receive the award.

“The Chair of the Board is a volunteer position of utmost importance and over the years, Gustavus has been blessed to have very dedicated Board Chairs,” President Ohle said. “They provide counsel and vision, as well as serve as liaisons to the entire Gustavus community. Tonight we honor and thank all those who have chaired the Board of Trustees for their commitment to Gustavus.”

Mark Bernhardson ‘71, current Chair of the Gustavus Board of Trustees, proceeded to announce that all living Presidents of the College and their spouses would also receive The Sesquicentennial Award.

“The College has had sixteen Presidents who have been supported in their work by their spouses. Each couple has played a critical role in advancing and evolving this institution,” Bernhardson said.

Those who were able to be present at the kickoff dinner to receive their award included Ed and Patty Lindell, Joanne (John) Kendall, Axel and Loreli Steuer, Dennis and Carol Johnson, Jim and Susan Peterson, and current President Jack and Kris Ohle.

Announcements regarding other Sesquicentennial Award recipients will be made on the Sesquicentennial website at


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



  1. Pastor Rod and Julane Anderson says:

    President Jack and Kris,

    What can we say except, “This is the day the Lord has made…for all of us to make our life COUNT!”

    It’s Homecoming! Go Gusties!

    We are so very thankful for you and Gustavus!
    Pastor Rod and Julane

  2. Nick Harper (Class of 2010) says:

    Wow, Lund looks amazing in that photo. I’m really jealous I couldn’t make it. I am excited to see how the Sesquicentennial Celebration and the new Campaign Gustavus plays out.

  3. Jill Allison says:

    How inspiring. I echo Pastor Rod and Julane’s sentiments. And your comments reminded me that I was married in the Chapel at Gustavus during the Homecoming football game. The cheers from the stands were particularly poignant at certain points in the ceremony!

    Jill Allison (Johnson) ’83

  4. Ginny Jones says:

    Pastor Rod,
    Your prayer before our wonderful dinner was so moving. “Try to remember”….yes, and when I do remember Gustavus, I fill with pride. I remember that first September at Gustavus, all those years ago, and it was the beginning of a life changing experience. I am so very grateful for those years ‘on that Gustie hill’.
    Ginny Larson Jones ’63