Otterbein University

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

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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.

Otterbein University President Announces Retirement

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“President Krendl and her leadership team have made significant contributions to improve the campus, the experiences of its students, faculty, staff and alumni as well forming strong networks in central Ohio and beyond,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Mark Thresher, executive vice president and CFO of Nationwide. “We are thankful for the growth and leadership she has brought to Otterbein during her tenure and the strong commitment she has toward educating the whole person while creating a model community of lifelong leaders and learners.”  

Krendl has worked to position Otterbein for continued success through increasing fundraising efforts, launching new academic programs, diversifying revenue sources, building relationships with business and community leaders, establishing partnerships with women’s organizations, and collaborating with non-profits and other higher education institutions. She has also focused institutional attention on recruiting top quality students, faculty and staff to the Otterbein community.

Having joined Otterbein at the beginning of the recession, Krendl committed to identifying strategies to maintain access to an affordable four-year education. She worked with the Otterbein Board of Trustees to freeze tuition costs for students and families. As a result, tuition at Otterbein has been held constant for all students for the past four years — an unprecedented decision in higher education today.

New scholarships and merit opportunities became a key priority in launching a $50 million comprehensive campaign — the university’s largest fundraising effort in its history. Another effort to establish an affordable pathway to a degree was announced this past spring with the development of a new dual admission program with Columbus State Community College. The program drastically reduces the cost of a four-year degree for families making an Otterbein degree more affordable than most four-year public institutions in the state. 

Partnerships with local K-12 school districts have also created affordable opportunities for students graduating from Columbus City, Westerville, South-Western, and Whitehall school districts to complete a four-year degree at Otterbein through special financial award packages.

The expansion and diversification of academic programs during Krendl’s presidency have yielded strong enrollments and increased diversity in the student population. They have also helped to define the distinctive identity of the institution. Further expansion of graduate programs, including the introduction of its first doctoral program, the Doctor of Nursing Practice, along with the development of unique undergraduate majors, such as Zoo and Conservation Science and Systems Engineering, heavily focused on Otterbein’s commitment to experiential learning opportunities, have further enhanced Otterbein’s academic reputation and distinguished it as a destination institution for students from across the country.

Most recently, the launch of The Point at Otterbein, an economic driver and collaborative partnership with business and industry, the City of Westerville, and the State of Ohio, has re-defined the future of higher education as students, faculty, and partners integrate the STEAM fields — science, technology, engineering, art, and math — in an experiential, hands-on learning environment. The collaboration will drive economic growth for the region through business development and job creation, while providing student experiences through internships, capstone projects, and research initiatives. This one-of-a-kind concept in central Ohio has been identified as a model of 21st century education by Fortune 500 businesses and government officials who have visited The Point.

Krendl is the first recipient of the Women for Economic Leadership Development (WELD) Riveter Award; she was also named among Ohio’s Most Powerful and Influential Women by the National Diversity Council; she was a finalist for the 2016 Columbus CEO Award; and this month she will be honored as a Progressive Woman in the Smart Women Awards ceremony. She has served on numerous boards including the Columbus YWCA, I Know I Can, Ohio Campus Compact and the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation. As president of Otterbein, she has continued to teach a first-year seminar for entering students on Women and Leadership. She also founded the Otterbein University Women’s Leadership Network to support the mentoring of women and girls in various fields of interest and professional development. She is the first female president to serve Otterbein since its founding in 1847.

A search for Otterbein’s 21st president in its 170-year history will begin this fall led by Otterbein Board of Trustees member Cheryl Herbert, Senior Vice President at OhioHealth.

OFIC Announces Three Gifts at Annual Board Meeting

At the annual meeting of the board of trustees, held on the campus of Otterbein University, The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges (OFIC) accepted three contributions to fund scholarships for students attending OFIC member institutions and continued support of the organization’s Bridges program.

Greg Steenrod, Vice President, Business Development at GEM Energy presented a gift commitment to OFIC in the amount of $70,000 to be paid over 20 years. The scholarship program through OFIC will benefit students in Ohio Northern University’s Advanced Energy Engineering program.

L to R: Todd Clossin, President & CEO WesBanco, OFIC Board Chair, Bill Spiker, OFIC President, Greg Steenrod, Vice President, Business Development, GEM Energy LLC.

L to R: Todd Clossin, President & CEO WesBanco, OFIC Board Chair, Bill Spiker, OFIC President, Greg Steenrod, Vice President, Business Development, GEM Energy LLC.

Sarah Briggs, Vice President, External Affairs from AT&T Ohio and Christopher Wyche, Director, External Affairs, from AT&T Ohio presented a check in the amount of $50,000 in support of The OFIC Bridges Program. The program creates a pathway for urban and economically disadvantaged students to gain access to higher education by providing information for both students and their families regarding the importance of a college education, the financial and educational preparation required, and the higher education processes involved. 

L to R: Todd Clossin, President & CEO WesBanco, OFIC Board Chair, Bill Spiker, OFIC President, Christopher Wyche, Director, External Affairs, AT&T Ohio, Sarah Briggs, Vice President, External Affairs, AT&T Ohio.

L to R: Todd Clossin, President & CEO WesBanco, OFIC Board Chair, Bill Spiker, OFIC President, Christopher Wyche, Director, External Affairs, AT&T Ohio, Sarah Briggs, Vice President, External Affairs, AT&T Ohio.

Finally, Renee Roberts, HR Manager, Great Lakes District, United Parcel Service along with OFIC/UPS Scholar Anthony Sumpter from Ohio Dominican University, presented a $88,400 check which represents the scholarships made possible by a grant from the UPS Educational Endowment Fund administered by the Council if Independent Colleges (CIC) in Washington, DC. Nationally, CIC and The UPS Foundation teamed up to provide nearly $1.5 million in student scholarships this year.

L to R: Todd Clossin, President & CEO WesBanco, OFIC Board Chair, Bill Spiker, OFIC President, Renee Roberts,  HR Manager, Great Lakes District , United Parcel Service.

L to R: Todd Clossin, President & CEO WesBanco, OFIC Board Chair, Bill Spiker, OFIC President, Renee Roberts, HR Manager, Great Lakes District, United Parcel Service.

L to R: OFIC/UPS Scholar Anthony Sumpter, Ohio Dominican University,  Renee Roberts,  HR Manager, Great Lakes District , United Parcel Service

L to R: OFIC/UPS Scholar Anthony Sumpter, Ohio Dominican University, Renee Roberts, HR Manager, Great Lakes District, United Parcel Service

OFIC/UPS Scholar Anthony Sumpter, Ohio Dominican University

OFIC/UPS Scholar Anthony Sumpter, Ohio Dominican University

“We are pleased that we had three major donors not only show their support through their contributions to OFIC, but also through their presence at our board meeting,” said Bill Spiker, president of OFIC. “Companies like GEM Energy, AT&T and UPS are essential to our efforts to help Ohio students achieve their academic goals and become active members of the workforce in our communities.”

Following the board meeting, attendees were offered a tour of the newly opened and first-of-its-kind facility, The Point at Otterbein University. 

Otterbein has partnered with leading organizations from the private and public sectors in central Ohio to create The Point at Otterbein University, a new science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) Innovation Center that combines academics with the business and manufacturing needs of our community.  Located at 60 Collegeview Road, The Point and it's STEAM Innovation Center is home to two resident companies and Otterbein academic departments, with lab space available to businesses and the broader community.