Monday Moments with President Bergman: February 15, 2021

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College students, faculty, and staff each week.
Posted on February 15th, 2021 by

The Gustavus Board of Trustees met (virtually) last Thursday and Friday. To give you a bit of context, the Board is currently composed of 31 members, most of whom are alumni, who volunteer their time to provide governance and support to the College. The Board meets three times each year, in the fall, winter, and spring, with committee meetings and other informational meetings taking place between the official business meetings. The Gustavus Cabinet members serve as administrative liaisons to the Board committees and also regularly attend the official Board meetings.

President Rebecca M. Bergman

Gustavus has the good fortune to have successful, wise, and caring people on its Board—people from diverse backgrounds who believe in the mission, core values, vision, and ongoing success of this institution. As many of you know, I have had the honor of being a member of the Gustavus Board of Trustees since 2007, when my oldest son, Matt, graduated from Gustavus, and I have continued to serve on the Board since 2014 in my current role as your president.

One of the highlights of each Board meeting is an opportunity to hear directly from the Student Senate Co-Presidents and the Faculty Senate Chair and Vice Chair. These leaders bring important updates from the student body and the faculty to the Board. Last week, both faculty and student leaders reflected on the challenges related to the pandemic and, at the same time, demonstrated a deep commitment to successfully working through these challenges with optimism and hope for the future. The Board was concerned about the wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff and they openly recognized the trials, difficulties, and ever-changing realities associated with the last year. Our trustees were inspired by how Gusties have leaned in to providing the best education possible in these unusual circumstances.

Friday was dedicated to discussing two key strategic topics: (1) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI), and Racial Justice, and (2) Post-Pandemic and Long-term Success of the College. Related to DEI and Racial Justice, the Board received an update on progress on various on-campus DEI and Racial Justice initiatives, and then they turned their attention to their own commitments for DEI education. In addition, they received their first update on the work of the Linnaeus Deliberation Circle, whose members have been meeting regularly since January 1.

Finally, the Board has begun the work of strategically thinking about what will be the “new normal” in higher education and at Gustavus. What will be important to preserve from pre-pandemic education traditions? In what ways will our online and virtual experiences generate new opportunities? How can we best leverage the benefits of a residential liberal arts education, where learning is enhanced by personal interactions, hands-on experiences, and serendipitous discussions that happen in between classroom and other structured activities? I am grateful that the Board is helping us imagine a day when we can integrate the tools and insights from the pandemic with the longstanding and fundamental benefits of a residential liberal arts experience.

This week, I ask that you reflect on these big questions. What do you want for Gustavus? What are your dreams for this place five or ten years from now? Each of us plays a role in building a Gustavus that will continue to thrive as we equip all students for lives of leadership and service in society.

Until next week, keep up the good work, Gusties!

Yours in community,

President Bergman


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