Who Will Lead

Gustavus ACTS

It takes a village to manifest a vision. Here are just a few of the Gustavus leaders who are moving us from dreaming to doing.


Brenda Kelly

Brenda Kelly

Provost and Dean of the College

Excited about: The vision calls all of us to action. Gustavus faculty, staff, administrators, and students have a role in living into the vision statement and making that vision a reality. 

Impressed by: the way the plan stretches us to reach beyond the Gustavus community on the Hill to extend into the local, regional, and global community, and the way it allows our external partners to reach in.

“This is not a plan for the academic program or student life or advancement; this is a plan for all of us, and all members of the community are engaged.”


Kathi Tunheim

Kathi Tunheim

Vice President for Mission, Strategy, and Innovation

Impressed by: the fact that this plan is more focused and concise than past strategic plans at Gustavus and others I have seen at colleges and universities. 

Already in progress: The faculty has worked diligently this past summer and fall to critically review our curriculum and infuse it with new ideas.

“We are going to stay rooted and committed to being a college of the ELCA, which positions us well to be a leading institution in helping address the great challenges of the world.”


esús Hernández Mejía

Jesús Hernández Mejía

Dean of Financial Aid

Excited about: Making Gustavus more affordable. What a difference the new scholarships make, particularly in our number of students from historically underrepresented groups.

Impressed by: Our good job communicating with students during COVID-19, the quick decision to reimburse students their room and board when the campus closed to most students, our ability to loan computers. It showed Gustavus really cares.

Will need: To keep our scholarships going so that students can focus on getting a Gustavus education that will prepare them for the world.

“A lot of the direction we get comes from our students. We will be more of what our students want us to be.”


Tom Flunker

Tom Flunker

Director, Center for Inclusive Excellence

Excited about: The fact that we are on our toes, looking for ways to get better.

Impressed by: How the goals for President’s Council for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are infused into the strategic plan. It holds us accountable.

Will need: Support that addresses the bigger constructs affecting historically underrepresented student groups. Scholarships don’t relieve all of the pressures of college life.

“Are we going to back off of diversity, equity, and inclusion endeavors when it’s no longer convenient? We need our students and alumni to keep being vocal.”


Valerie Banschbach

Valerie Banschbach

Associate Provost and Dean of Sciences and Education

Excited about: The new Challenge Seminar. It connects the dots of a student’s experiences through the general education curriculum. It’s where students will apply all they’ve learned.

Impressed by: This living strategic plan. We interact with it on a daily basis. It truly guides decision-making.

Will need: Time to develop new courses, patience as we experiment, and vigilance to make sure we increase equity for disadvantaged students.

“The new Challenge Curriculum will leverage interdisciplinary connections and highlight the best of Gustavus.”


Andrew Coston

Andrew Coston

Executive Director, Center for Career Development

Impressed by: Our alumni base. They’re passionate. They want to help current Gusties.

Will need: Alums to let us know about opportunities for work, internships, job shadowing, career treks. Call us. Let’s talk through how you can help.

In progress: Integrating the vocational and the educational. We don’t want students to think of career development as something they do in their senior year.

“We want students to be able to adjust to any circumstance that might occur. The great challenge is having a Plan B and a Plan C.”


Tami Aune ’82

Tami Aune ’82

Chief Technology Officer

Excited about: Every single classroom experience is unique. How do we find tech solutions that support that rich and diverse learning environments?

Will need: Obviously funding and budgeting is a challenge. So is finding and retaining excellent staff.

In progress: Using the lessons of COVID-19 to make sure people have the tools and resources they need to provide accessible teaching, working, and learning environments.

“We love change, we live for change, for the challenge of a constantly evolving environment.”


Curt Kowaleski

Curt Kowaleski

CFO, Vice President for Finance, and Treasurer

Excited about: Lund Center and all the benefits the Gustavus community will get from it.

Impressed by: This well-defined strategic plan and the many ways we keep it alive. This is what we need to do to make Gustavus as vibrant and great as we want it to be.

In progress: Agreeing on what the top priorities are and allocating resources to fund them.

“We need to keep an eye on the long-term success of the College.”