Monday Moments with President Bergman: January 20, 2020

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College employees each week.
Posted on January 20th, 2020 by

President Rebecca M. Bergman

As I sit down to research and write Monday Moments each week, I always look forward to the opportunity to learn, reflect, and give thanks. This was particularly true this week, as we look back on the last decade and ahead to all that awaits us between now and 2030. I am impressed by the many initiatives that have blossomed in the last 10 years that we will build on as we move forward together.

In 2009-2010, the College was still processing paper applications from high school students. The Gustavus endowment sat at approximately $90 million. Our country was beginning to recover from the great recession, but concerns about money and job prospects shaped the experiences of several classes of students. The Nobel Conference explored water as an uncertain resource and the Building Bridges Conference covered the liberating power of education with teacher Erin Gruwell and her former student Maria Reyes, the inspiration for The Freedom Writers.

Flash forward to 2020…

As our campus celebrates one of the great leaders of the Civil Rights era on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I am pleased that our student demographics have changed dramatically as we seek to reflect the world we live in. Gustavus has increased the number of international students and the countries they represent. In the last decade, our incoming classes have grown in representation of students from historically underrepresented groups to nearly 22 percent. We have one of the most equitable graduation rates in the country for Pell Grant-eligible students compared to the overall student population. We have created the President’s Council for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which establishes objectives and provides leadership that will continue to move us forward in these important areas.

This spring, Gustavus Women in Leadership will host its 10th annual leadership conference, continuing its mission of supporting women in attaining their potential as leaders. From an inaugural group of 12 economics/management mentees in 2010-2011, the Gustavus Mentoring Program has grown to provide alumni mentors to over 300 pairs representing a wide variety of majors.

We have moved forward in sustainability, installing a composter and expanding the Big Hill Farm (which was founded in 2009). We added solar installations, created the President’s Environmental Sustainability Council, and have seen tremendous student leadership in promoting the importance of responsible stewardship of the world in which we live.

In the last decade, we have received transformational gifts that reflect the pride and promise that our alumni and friends feel for our College. We closed Campaign Gustavus with over $170 million in commitments and recently launched the comprehensive Show the World campaign with an ambitious goal of $225 million. We have grown our number of endowed faculty positions and need- and merit-based financial aid funds for our students. Today, our endowment sits at approximately $200 million–the highest in the College’s history.

These are just a few examples of the initiatives we have created and grown together. We have written and are faithfully executing the Gustavus Acts Strategic Plan. We have made important strides in our use of technology to support our students and streamline our operations. Our entrepreneurship program is providing a living laboratory for students who are identifying their own challenges and finding ways to act on them. Student-faculty research and collaboration continue to remain a focus of our interdisciplinary liberal arts experience.

We have done all of this while remaining true to our mission. Our foundation is strong, and our vision is clear. Think of the momentum we already have and picture where it can carry us in the next 10 years.

The sky is the limit, Gusties. Let’s build our future together.

With respect,



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