The Gustavus community is just that: a community. Its parts are made of an array of faculty, students, staff, and administrators. These parts need to work together, talk to each other, and yes, at times even argue with each other in order to produce the strongest community possible. However, this fragile tradition may be at risk. Gusties, it’s time we paid attention.
First of all, did anyone notice that unexpected email, concerning the fact that at the end of this year Provost Mary Morton will, “relinquish her position and return to the classroom.” In the email it states that Provost Morton, “reached this decision due to changes in her role and scope as Provost.” So what exactly has changed about her position, who changed it and wouldn’t it be relevant to us as students?
For all of us unsure about what exactly Provost Morton does, the Gustavus website explains that the Provost’s office “oversees academic programs and strategic planning for the college. She is also responsible for representing and advancing the college’s academic programs to internal and external constituencies.” Oh, and you know all those big signs and excitement for Commission Gustavus 150? Well, Provost Morton is instrumental in that too. Provost Morton is integral to our faculty and our continued academic excellence.
This seems like quite the important issue, so why aren’t the students buzzing about this just as much as the faculty? After all, the students should be extremely concerned with the college’s academic integrity and the office that keeps it at a high level of excellence (one of Gustavus’ pillars, by the way). Let’s not forget that the degrees we receive from Gustavus have our name, our major and the reputation of Gustavus. That is, with your Gustavus degree comes the Gustavus reputation. We need to know that we are from a school that puts academics first. We need to know what is going on in the office that ensures this academic integrity. We need to know what’s going on with our provost.
At a faculty meeting last Wednesday, the faculty passed a resolution citing that they “strongly urge that her [Provost Morton] resignation not go forward and recommend that the faculty and the Board of Trustees promptly examine the circumstances that have led to her resignation” and overwhelmingly supported her through a vote of confidence. A second resolution passed overwhelmingly demanding an immediate review of President Ohle by the board of trustees, including a special confidential stipulation in regards to the Vice Presidents’ testimonies. In addition, senior Chris Edelbrock estimates only two non-tenured faculty spoke out at Wednesday’s meeting. What is happening to our community?
Gustavus students should be aware that there are a number of things they can do to demand more transparency from the current administration, the board of trustees, and President Ohle. Call, email, go to the office; tell your parents to write, call or stop by; have alumni you know to write, call or stop by; ask to have a meeting (or two) with your president, adviser, provost or anyone who will listen; chalk, petition, protest, sit-in…raise your voice.
Gustavus Adolphus College is a strong institution because of its emphasis on community and dialogue. This dialogue is being threatened by the uneasiness, insecurity and fear that is censoring many members of this community, which includes us, your column writers. This does not bode well for democratic dialogue and Gustavus’s future.