Updated: Feb 1
On January 11, 2023, Matthew P. vandenBerg Ed.D. was announced as Ohio Wesleyan University’s 17th President.
The search committee received over a hundred applications, and began the hiring process June 2022, according to Cole Peterson, a member of the Presidential Search Committee.
In their mission to find the next president, the committee made it a priority to select a candidate that had positive, attainable goals for OWU, and a personality that would mesh with the campus community. They felt that vandenBerg was the best fit based on these criteria.
“What really impressed the committee about Matt was his vision of OWU and his drive to see that vision become reality. We have a lot of great opportunities that are coming to Central Ohio, and Ohio Wesleyan needs to be able to go and grab those opportunities; Matt knows that. He’s willing to engage with the student body, the faculty, University leadership, and the Trustees to make those opportunities happen,” Peterson said.
VandenBerg earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Alma University, then went on to earn his Master of Public Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington, all before receiving his Doctorate of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.
The newest president has just over 12 years of experience in higher education administration, including his most recent position, president of Presbyterian College.
During his tenure at Presbyterian College, vandenBerg succeeded in increasing service opportunities, first year admission, and fundraising efforts. Additionally, he worked to create a Division of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, as well as create a way for certain bachelor’s degrees to be completed in three years, according to the OWU Press Release announcing his selection.
Continuing such success will be a priority for vandenBerg at OWU as well as it was at Presbyterian College.
“I look forward to working with you, our students, faculty, staff, Alumni, and friends, to build on our strengths, and to fully leverage the points of distinction that can truly set OWU apart from other institutions. Together we’re going to stomp on the gas pedal of progress, we’re gonna ensure that OWU’s best days are ahead of us, and nothing will hold us back, but the extent of our own imaginations. I look forward to partnering with you, I look forward to serving you, I look forward to making the world a better place with you,” he said in a video announcing his selection as president.
Propensity for innovation is a characteristic that vandenBerg feels is essential for competing in the current market of higher education.
“We have the tools to win in today’s competitive landscape. We’re an engine of social mobility for our region and our state. We’re one of America’s most entrepreneurial colleges, we’re one of the best bargains in American higher education…We need to be able to ask ourselves the right questions. What really makes us different from those other institutions? What can our students get at our institution that they can’t get anywhere else, and how do we align our resources and our energies so those distinctions shine?” he said in his announcement video.
Such a forward-looking attitude contributed to the committee’s enthusiasm towards vandenBerg. “Each time the committee spoke to Matt, I got excited. He’s creative, has an excellent vision for OWU, and knows what it will take to get us there. Matt makes me feel excited for the future of Ohio Wesleyan,” Peterson said.
President Jones will retire, and vandenBerg will assume the role beginning on July 1, 2023.