Higher Education

Walsh University President Announces Retirement

North Canton, Ohio – After 18 years of monumental growth under his leadership, Walsh University President Richard Jusseaume has officially announced his retirement. Jusseaume will stay on as Walsh’s leader through the end of this fiscal year (June 30, 2019) and, to ensure a smooth transition for the new president, will remain in a consultant position for the final year of his contract. A national search to procure Walsh’s new president will commence immediately.

 As Ohio’s second longest-serving president of a four-year private university, Richard Jusseaume became the sixth president of Walsh University in 2001. Under his guidance, Walsh has experienced phenomenal growth in almost every facet of its operations including enrollment, academic programming, faculty and staff, financial resources and physical facilities. In total, he has spent five decades at Walsh in various roles including student, Dean of Students, Board of Director member, and ultimately as President. He began his career as an educator for 17 years before transitioning into corporate leadership at Graphic Enterprises Inc. He led Graphic Enterprises for another 17 years before returning to Walsh where he has just completed his 17th contract year as President.  For a complete timeline of accomplishments, visit https://www.walsh.edu/jusseaume.

Campus to Career Connections (Ohio Business Magazine Feature)

By Eric Spangler

By Eric Spangler

Rob Twitchell knows the value of an education from an independent college in Ohio. Twitchell, the COO of Reliant Capital, an accounts receivable management company headquartered in Gahanna, Ohio, graduated from Ohio Northern University, an independent university located in Ada, Ohio.

That’s one of the reasons Twitchell says Reliant Capital recently decided to make a donation to The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges to fund three renewable scholarships for students attending one of 33 independent colleges and universities in Ohio.

The only stipulation for the scholarship is that students preferably live in Franklin County and contiguous counties, since that’s where Reliant Capital is located; they should major in business, communication, finance or marketing; and must meet the academic standards of The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges and demonstrate financial need, says Twitchell.

“We just kind of feel that as our company grows it’s our responsibility as a corporate citizen to give back to the community,” Twitchell says. “And since we support the higher-education industry it just kind of made sense for us to get involved and support their work.”

Reliant Capital helps colleges by managing their outstanding debt, he says. “We treat our borrowers with dignity and respect,” says Twitchell. “The institutions we support are extremely important to us and expect us to treat their alumni and former students well and we pride ourselves on doing that.”

He says Reliant Capital does everything possible to help people resolve their distressed loans so they can get back on with their life. “We just want to make sure that we participate in every phase of this by offering scholarships and helping people make it more affordable and hopefully people don’t end up as our customers,” Twitchell says.

Making a donation for scholarships is important to Reliant Capital because the money is being used to make a difference in students’ lives, he says. “I’m personally a big fan of a liberal arts education and I’ve seen the value of it in my own life.

“I realize that there are some people that might be on the edge of being able to afford attending one of these schools,” Twitchell says.

Scholarships through The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges gives companies access to the state’s future workforce.

Scholarships through The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges gives companies access to the state’s future workforce.

Scholarships through The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges gives companies access to the state’s future workforce.

It’s that personal touch that has elevated The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges, the national leader in providing unrestricted gifts and student scholarships to Ohio’s independent colleges and universities since its founding in 1950 to now, says Bill Spiker, president of the organization. Until 1986 the group raised money through corporate donations for general expenses at its member institutions, he says.

But The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges started raising money from corporate donors specifically for student scholarships at member institutions in 1986.

“I like to say we dipped our toe in the water in 1986 and then today we’re up about chest high,” says Spiker. Today, about three-fourths of the money the group raises is distributed back to its member schools in the form of scholarships, he says.

The scholarships have been successful because corporate officials like to know where their gift is going and what their money is supporting, Spiker says.

Twitchell agrees with that assessment. “I really can’t stress enough that the money for The [Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges] goes right to the student so we’re getting the money right to the point of need, which I think is pretty critical,” Twitchell says.

Corporate officials can even get introduced to a scholarship recipient and that may lead to a new employee upon graduation, he says.

“Students may have a choice as to where they want to start their career and if a company has stepped forward with a contribution to help reduce the cost of attending a member school then that student may look more favorably on joining that company,” says Spiker. “So it’s a way of establishing that relationship,” he says.

That relationship creates a “campus to career connection,” Spiker says. “That’s what we’re saying to corporate Ohio, we’ve got something to return to you,” he says.  “It’s not just, ‘Give us money and we’ll do a good job with it.’ It’s really saying to them we can potentially give you a return on your investment, especially if you’re hiring.”

The scholarships provided by The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges are creating a talent pipeline for corporate Ohio, says Spiker. “The reason we exist is to raise money from corporate Ohio, return it to the students who are attending the member campuses, making their education affordable and creating a future workforce for Ohio,” he says.

That, in turn, may help keep Ohio’s economy strong and growing. Twitchell says it’s well documented that Ohio is going to face a shortfall of qualified workers in the very new future. By providing scholarships to students with financial needs businesses are making it possible to address that shortfall of qualified workers, he says.

Spiker agrees that keeping qualified workers in Ohio is important to the economy and says the scholarships offered by his organization are creating a talent pipeline for Ohio business.

Twitchell succinctly sums up the scholarship program and its importance to the state’s economy. “I think by participating in this [scholarship program] we’re making the Ohio economy better, which benefits us all,” says Twitchell.

OFIC Talent Pipeline Solutions hosted by Motorists Insurance Group

Fantastic turnout for the OFIC Talent Pipeline event hosted by Motorists Insurance Group in Columbus on September 21. Attendees included representatives from: Alliance Data, American Electric Power, AT&T, Battelle, Big Lots Stores, Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea, HMB, American Honda Motor Company, Inc., Honda of America Mfg., Inc., Huntington National Bank, ICC, First Financial Bank, Motorists Insurance Group, Thomas and Marker Construction.

Join us for our next event or learn more: www.ofic.org.

John Comerford, Ph.D., Selected as Otterbein University’s 21st President


Comerford brings a record of success in enrollment and financial growth to the position.

Westerville, OH— A college president with extensive experience in promoting access, affordability, diversity and career preparation has been selected as the 21st president of Otterbein University. 

John Comerford, Ph.D., president of Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois, was selected after a months-long search that drew nearly 80 applicants from across the nation. He will take his post on July 1, 2018.

“We had a wealth of highly qualified candidates who applied for the position but John Comerford stood out from the start,” said Mark Thresher, chair of the Otterbein Board of Trustees and CFO of Nationwide. “His proven commitment to inclusion, innovation, access and affordability closely align with Otterbein’s values, while his experience promises to advance Otterbein in these areas and others.”

“I am honored and humbled to be joining the Otterbein University and Westerville communities. Otterbein is an innovative and inclusive institution that has combined its traditional commitment to the liberal arts with new and exciting academic and co-curricular offerings,” Comerford said. “I am moved by Otterbein’s history and commitment to ensuring higher education remains accessible and affordable, while maintaining academic excellence, no matter a student’s family financial situation. We need institutions that are willing to be leaders in this area.”

John Comerford, Ph.D., comes to Otterbein University with a record of commitment and advocacy for higher education and liberal arts colleges. He has served as president of Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois, since 2013, where he has been at the center of a number of innovative programs designed to enhance student access and learning.

Comerford was chosen to lead Otterbein following an eight-month nationwide search by a 12-person search committee in consultation with an expanded group of 10 campus representatives. The committee included representatives from all Otterbein constituencies, including trustees, students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni, as well as the Westerville community.

Learn more at www.otterbein.edu/21stpresident. 

Comerford was introduced to the Otterbein and central Ohio communities at an announcement at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24.

Comerford was introduced to the Otterbein and central Ohio communities at an announcement at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24.

Bluffton University names next president

Dr. Jane Wood

Dr. Jane Wood

BLUFFTON, Ohio – For just the tenth time in its 119-year history, Bluffton University’s Board of Trustees has named a new president, announcing that Dr. Jane Wood has accepted the call to serve as Bluffton’s next president beginning July 1, 2018.

“Dr. Wood has demonstrated success in achieving enrollment growth at several institutions by leading academic program innovation, strategic planning, alignment and visioning processes that moved those institutions forward, along with proven success in building relationships for public and private partnerships to broaden the school’s reach,” said Kent Yoder, chairperson of the Bluffton University Board of Trustees. “She is a committed Christian with leadership experience at both Catholic and Protestant institutions and has a passion for social justice. We are excited that she was drawn to Bluffton for its mission, history and faith tradition rooted in peace and social justice. The Board is united in agreement that Dr. Jane Wood is the right person for this time in Bluffton’s history.”

Dr. Wood currently serves as the vice president of academic affairs and dean at Mount Marty College, a Benedictine liberal arts and co-educational institution in Yankton, S.D. Her previous professional positions were at Westminster College, in New Wilmington, Pa.; Park University and University of Missouri, both in Kansas City, Mo.; and at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan. Her experience in higher education includes positions as a tenured faculty member, department chair, academic dean and vice president. Dr. Wood earned her Ph.D. and master’s degree in English literature from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Missouri.

“This is an exciting time in the life of Bluffton University and it will be an honor to build on the substantial and outstanding programs that are already in place and innovate with the campus community to build new programs that will provide sustainable bridges to the future,” said Wood. “I will lead with an appreciation for Bluffton’s history and its fine reputation as an institution firmly rooted in the ideals of the liberal arts and sciences and framed by the values of the Mennonite/Anabaptist faith. Bluffton’s compelling mission, distinctive history and traditions offer an opportunity to refine and connect a successful past with an exciting future.”

In her previous roles, Dr. Wood worked collaboratively with faculty, staff, students and public and private partners to develop strategic plans that spurred enrollment growth through academic program development including undergraduate, adult studies and graduate-level programs.

“It is exciting to create, with campus and community collaboration, an innovative and practical strategic vision with academic excellence at its core,” said Wood. “I believe there are significant growth opportunities for right-sized, Christian, liberal arts institutions who work closely with for-profit and non-profit entities to identify the best fit for students for internships, future employment and partnership investments in key identified areas of the university’s academic programs. These initiatives must be balanced with a commitment to a core liberal arts education that equips graduates for success across the full range of professions and for advanced studies in a constantly changing world.”

Dr. Wood also has experience in implementing successful Title IX program improvements, including diversity hiring initiatives, and in fundraising. She has a breadth of experience with different college settings including serving for and interacting with students and faculty at public, private, and Catholic and Presbyterian institutions.

“As a woman who was born and raised in the United Methodist Church (and where my husband and I raised our two daughters), I understand the power of faith as it resonates in individual lives and as it infuses organizations,” said Wood. “Faith is central in my own life and my integrity is guided by my deepening spiritual compass. I am drawn to Bluffton’s Mennonite/Anabaptist faith history for multiple reasons. As a trained mediator, I am committed to Bluffton’s restorative justice principles and understand that Bluffton has always been welcoming to students of all faith backgrounds and is committed to encouraging informed understanding and dialogue, core values that are in great need during this time in our nation and our world. Bluffton’s mission is both special and essential and why I feel called to serve and lead at this time.”

Dr. Wood also noted her enthusiasm for Bluffton’s current $26 million comprehensive fundraising campaign including construction of the Austin E. Knowlton Science Center. To date, Simply Innovate—The Campaign for Bluffton, has surpassed 60 percent of the university’s total campaign goal and more than 80 percent of the funding needed for the science center. In her previous roles, Wood has demonstrated success in developing academic programs related to health care and increasing partnerships that enhance enrollment.

“I look forward to engaging with energy and enthusiasm the many constituents of Bluffton University to achieve the goals of Simply Innovate—The Campaign for Bluffton,” said Wood. “I applaud all that Dr. Harder has done to position Bluffton for continued success and am excited to carry forward the vision for Bluffton’s emerging excellence in the natural and health science areas. Without doubt, the university’s current goal to open Knowlton Science Center for the 2020/21 academic year is achievable, and I look forward to investing myself fully with staff and volunteers to make this dream a reality for Bluffton students.”

Bluffton’s presidential search process was led by Cheryl Hacker, Bluffton alumna and vice chair of the Board of Trustees. The Search Committee included board members, faculty, staff, a student, a community member, the president of the Bluffton University Alumni Association, a representative from Mennonite Education Agency and alumni representatives from the Ohio Conference and the Central District Conference of Mennonite Church USA. The committee began their work in September and received more than 50 applications for the presidency.

“We had a fully inclusive process, with the opportunity for faculty, staff and students to meet the final candidates and provide feedback,” said Yoder, board chair. “The Board extends its appreciation to the committee and the campus community for their thoughtful engagement and prayers of support during the presidential search process.”   

Dr. Wood follows Dr. James M. Harder who will retire in June after completing 12 years as president at Bluffton University and more than 30 years working in higher education. 


Carmen Twillie Ambar Named 15th President of Oberlin College



The Oberlin College Board of Trustees announced today that Carmen Twillie Ambar will become the College’s 15th president and first African American leader in the institution's 184-year history. Ambar, currently president of Cedar Crest College, will be on campus full time beginning in September.

Carmen Twillie Ambar addresses the campus community during an announcement ceremony on May 30, 2017.  

Ambar’s values align closely with Oberlin’s mission. “Oberlin is a singular institution in American higher education, with an historic commitment to social justice, academic and musical excellence, and the liberal arts,” Ambar says. “I look forward to my work with Oberlin’s faculty, staff, students, board, and alumni to think creatively and collaboratively together. I am humbled to be joining this institution and excited about the opportunity to lead it into its next era.”

Ohio Bankers League partners with OFIC for 3-year, $300k gift

(L to R) Todd Clossin, President & CEO, WesBanco and Chair, OFIC Board of Trustees, Evan Kleymeyer, Executive Director, The Ohio Bankers League Foundation, James M. Gasior President & CEO, The Cortland Savings and Banking Company, Bill Spiker, President, OFIC.

(L to R) Todd Clossin, President & CEO, WesBanco and Chair, OFIC Board of Trustees, Evan Kleymeyer, Executive Director, The Ohio Bankers League Foundation, James M. Gasior
President & CEO, The Cortland Savings and Banking Company, Bill Spiker, President, OFIC.

April 11, 2017 - The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges Annual Meeting, Board of Trustees, Columbus Museum of Art

The OBL has established a partnership with OFIC, a leader in scholarship administration, to help Ohio banks build better communities through scholarships. This concept will multiply their investment in higher education to have a stronger, more lasting local impact that helps create a pipeline of talent across Ohio.

The three-year OBL scholarship program investment of $300,000 establishes an endowment and provides current scholarships at OFIC member universities. It allows Ohio banks to help make higher education more affordable for students, while increasing awareness of careers in the banking industry. This connectivity could provide them with summer internship opportunities and potentially careers at an Ohio bank. More importantly, this program helps shape the future of the banking industry through the permanent endowment.

OBL chose to partner with OFIC to help create real change in Ohio’s local communities. “Banks, like many other industries, are struggling with an aging employee base and we knew we needed to do something significant to address this issue, said Ohio Bankers League CEO, Mike Adelman. “OFIC’s exclusive partnership with Ohio independent universities, many of which are in the smaller towns of Ohio where OBL member banks are located, means our investment is having a true local impact.”

“Ohio independent universities continually work hard to improve the state’s college-educated workforce and with funds from our donors, such as this scholarship program, we are supporting their efforts,” explained OFIC President, Bill Spiker.  “With an average of over 60% of our graduates staying in Ohio to enter the job market, this program is a great way to demonstrate that banks in their hometowns are a great choice to begin their careers.”

The Ohio Bankers League is the trade association for the Ohio banking industry – and is Ohio’s only organization focused on meeting the needs of all banks and thrifts in the Buckeye State. For more than 125 years, the OBL has been the voice of the Ohio banking industry fostering a cooperation that has made it one of the strongest and most reputable financial trade associations in the country.

President of John Carroll University to Retire

The Rev. Robert Niehoff, president of John Carroll University, has announced his retirement.  (Robert Hartshorn/Hartshorn Studios)

The Rev. Robert Niehoff, president of John Carroll University, has announced his retirement. (Robert Hartshorn/Hartshorn Studios)

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio - The Rev. Robert Niehoff, president of John Carroll University since 2005, announced Wednesday that he plans to retire.

Niehoff said in the letter to the university community that the search for his successor will begin immediately.

"I have been thinking for some time about the ideal time to position the University for new leadership," he wrote. "This year has been exceptional and full of hard rewarding work. With the Higher Learning Commission's recent reaffirmation of our accreditation status; the successful conclusion of the Forever Carroll comprehensive campaign; the launch of our new strategic plan; growing recognition and prestige for our accountancy and science programs; and achieving national media coverage for beating Mt. Union in football for the first time in 27 years, it became clear to me that the time for me to retire is now."

Ohio Dominican names University's 16th President

Robert A. Gervasi, Ph.D

Robert A. Gervasi, Ph.D

Columbus, OH – The Ohio Dominican University (ODU) Board of Trustees has announced that Robert A. Gervasi, Ph.D. will serve as the University’s 16th president. Gervasi will succeed Dr. Peter Cimbolic, who is retiring after seven years as ODU’s president. Gervasi will begin at Ohio Dominican on June 26, 2017.

Gervasi has spent the last nine years serving as president of Quincy University, a private Catholic Franciscan liberal arts university located in Quincy, Illinois. Quincy has approximately 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students.

During Gervasi’s tenure as president, Quincy experienced growth and improvement in numerous areas, including enrollment. In fall 2016, Quincy welcomed its largest class on record. Over the past nine years, enrollment in the university’s Honors Program has increased from 33 to 202 students. Quincy also became a more diverse campus under Gervasi’s leadership, with approximately 17 percent of the university’s student population made up of minority students, compared to five percent in the region. 

“We are tremendously blessed and proud to have an individual of Robert Gervasi’s experience, leadership and enthusiasm serve as Ohio Dominican University’s 16th president,” said Tom Mueller, chair of ODU’s Board of Trustees. “Quincy University has experienced tremendous success and growth under his guidance. As a sitting president, Bob has successfully navigated many of the challenges currently being experienced at small, private Midwestern universities, and we’re excited for him to bring his expertise to Ohio Dominican.”

Lourdes University Names 10th President

Mary Ann Gawelek, Ed.D., Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA, has been appointed the 10th President of Lourdes University. After conducting a national search which garnered candidates from 11 states, Dr. Gawelek was selected overwhelmingly by Lourdes University, its sponsor the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania and the institution’s Board of Trustees. She will begin her role as President on July 1, 2016, with an inauguration planned during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Bank of America Presents $10,000 to OFIC

Thankful for organizations like @BankofAmerica that understand the importance of workforce development and independent higher education!

Pictured R to L: Jeffrey Geiger, Senior Financial Advisor/Vice President - Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Jennifer Hurd, SVP Market Manager State of Ohio - Bank of America, Gordon Brollier, President - The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges

Pictured R to L: Jeffrey Geiger, Senior Financial Advisor/Vice President - Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Jennifer Hurd, SVP Market Manager State of Ohio - Bank of America, Gordon Brollier, President - The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges

Muskingum University Announces 21st President

Dr. Susan Schneider Hasseler

Dr. Susan Schneider Hasseler

The Muskingum University Board of Trustees, after a unanimous vote, today announced the appointment of Dr. Susan Schneider Hasseler as Muskingum’s twenty-first president.  Dr. Hasseler will take office on July 1, 2016.  She succeeds Dr. Anne C. Steele who has served as President since January 1, 2000, leading Muskingum through 16 years of unprecedented institutional development.
“I am delighted and honored to be selected to lead this exceptional group of faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters into the future,” said Dr. Hasseler.  “Muskingum University provides that powerful combination of rich tradition, deep dedication to service and a robust commitment to innovation and excellence that prepares its graduates to transform the world.”
“Dr. Hasseler’s values, experience and vision uniquely qualify her to advance Muskingum’s mission and continue the University’s tremendous progress into the future,” said Harold W. Burlingame ’62, Executive Vice President Retired, AT&T Human Resources, and Chair of Muskingum’s Board of Trustees.
“Dr. Hasseler is a respected academic leader, teacher and scholar, with deep commitments to inclusivity, community engagement, service and building local, regional and national partnerships,” he added.
Burlingame thanked the Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee, chaired by Muskingum Trustee Robert W. Patin Jr. ’64, and commended their dedicated efforts throughout the 10-month search process.
Dr. Susan Hasseler is currently senior vice president for Academic Affairs at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she oversees a wide array of undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs, academic support operations and cross-disciplinary centers and institutes.
She has worked with the president and her colleagues to help Augustana broaden student audiences and build a sustainable future through developing and implementing a new strategic plan; creating an integrated student success and career center; establishing a new Office of Graduate and Continuing Education and launching multiple new graduate programs; leading a revitalization of the liberal arts core and first year experience; introducing collaborative enrollment, retention and branding initiatives; and participating in the development and launch of a new comprehensive campaign.
She was previously dean of the School of Business, Education and Social Sciences and Dean of Community Engagement at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and Associate dean for Undergraduate and Graduate Teacher Education at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
As a faculty member, Dr. Hasseler served as professor and associate professor of education at Calvin College and as assistant professor of education at Michigan State University. She has published extensively and presented widely on the topics of educational leadership, inclusivity, international education and cross-cultural experiences.
An active leader in national higher education associations, she is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the American Council of Academic Deans and presents regularly for the Council of Independent Colleges. She serves in multiple community organizations including the Sioux Empire United Way, the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Downtown Sioux Falls.
Dr. Hasseler holds a B.S. in elementary and special education from Calvin College, an M.A. in special education from the University of South Dakota, and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy.
She is married to neuropsychologist Kenneth Hasseler, who also earned his Ph.D. from Northwestern University.  They enjoy the visual and performing arts, athletics, campus and alumni events, hiking, biking, exploring the art, architecture and geography of new places, and spending time with their daughter, Kaitlin, and their son, Jon and his wife Mallory.

Capital University names new president

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Stetson University provost chosen to lead Capital University

Capital University's new president-elect spent years as a psychology professor — a background she says has been invaluable throughout her career as a higher-education administrator.

"It definitely comes in handy," said Elizabeth L. Paul this morning, after she was introduced as Capital's 16th president. She will succeed President Denvy Bowman, who said last year that he will retire in June 2016.