Matthew P. vandenBerg, Ed.D., pictured above with his wife, Melissa, and their children, Jackson and Sylvia, will become OWU’s 17th president on July 1, 2023.
Matt vandenBerg, "Innovative, Energetic Leader"
Matt vandenBerg, currently the president of Clinton, South Carolina-based Presbyterian College, will succeed Rock Jones, Ph.D., who completes 15 years leading OWU when he retires July 1, 2023.
“Ohio Wesleyan is poised for greatness,” said Nicholas E. Calio, chair of the Ohio Wesleyan Board of Trustees. “Under Rock’s leadership, the university has advanced in so many areas, and we are pleased to hand the baton to Matt. We are confident he will bring the vision and execution needed to help Ohio Wesleyan continue to advance and succeed in its critical mission of preparing future generations of engaged citizens and effective leaders.”
Kara J. Trott, J.D., chair of the Presidential Search Committee and vice chair of the OWU Board of Trustees, said, “More than 100 higher education leaders applied to become Ohio Wesleyan’s new president, and Matt vandenBerg quickly rose to the top of this very accomplished candidate pool.”
“Matt is an innovative, energetic leader who will help to build upon Ohio Wesleyan’s reputation and success, especially as the Columbus region works to transform itself into the Silicon Valley of the Midwest,” said Trott, a 1983 OWU graduate and the founder and board chair of Columbus-based Quantum Health Inc. “Matt has the drive and vision to ensure that Ohio Wesleyan is an integral part of this high-tech transformation. Both the Presidential Search Committee and the university’s Board of Trustees were unanimous in their selection of Matt to boldly and confidently lead Ohio Wesleyan into the future.”
vandenBerg said he is excited to become a Bishop and continue the progress Ohio Wesleyan has experienced under Jones’ leadership.
“Ohio Wesleyan is a distinctive, forward-looking, and appreciably student-centered institution that transforms lives,” vandenBerg said. “With initiatives like the OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan and its faculty are reimagining the liberal arts for the needs of a new world and a new generation of students.
“I want to honor all that makes Ohio Wesleyan special as I work to build relationships, earn the trust of stakeholders, listen with care, and make values-based decisions that continue to differentiate and distinguish the university,” vandenBerg said. “This is an exciting time for OWU, especially with all that is happening in central Ohio, and I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this accomplished university.”
Matt vandenBerg comes to OWU from Presbyterian College, where, as one of the nation’s youngest college presidents, he led the work of the South Carolina-based college to redefine itself with distinction and propel its recognition in the higher education landscape.
“My life’s work focuses on championing small, independent colleges, on tackling the uncertainty they face, and on securing their current and future prosperity, particularly through bold thinking, innovative problem-solving, and strategic partnership building,” vandenBerg says.
Indeed, vandenBerg set his sights on becoming a college president while still an undergraduate at Alma College in Michigan. It was an “oddly specific goal,” he acknowledges, and one based on Alma’s then-president suggesting that he would flourish in the role while simultaneously fulfilling his desire for a meaningful career that would benefit others.
Bishops everywhere are celebrating the selection of Matt vandenBerg as OWU's 17th president.
Kara Trott '83
Chair, Presidential Search Committee; Vice Chair, OWU Board of Trustees; Founder and Board Chair of Quantum Health Inc.
“Matt is an innovative, energetic leader who will help to build upon Ohio Wesleyan’s reputation and success, especially as the Columbus region works to transform itself into the Silicon Valley of the Midwest.” Read more
Nick Calio '75
Chair, OWU Board of Trustees; President and CEO of Airlines for America
"Ohio Wesleyan is poised for greatness. Under Rock’s leadership, the university has advanced in so many areas, and we are pleased to hand the baton to Matt. We are confident he will bring the vision and execution needed to help Ohio Wesleyan continue to advance and succeed in its critical mission of preparing future generations of engaged citizens and effective leaders." Read more
President, Ohio Wesleyan University
“I am thrilled with the selection of Matt vandenBerg as the 17th president of Ohio Wesleyan. Matt is a visionary, entrepreneurial, collaborative, empathetic leader who will guide OWU to new levels of distinction and accomplishment in providing a transformational liberal arts education.” Read more
Provost, Ohio Wesleyan University
"Matt’s creative vision has the ability to galvanize a community to see possibility and innovation. Matt grasps how liberal arts learning can change a single student’s destiny and that harnessing, translating, and expanding the power of that experience is foundational to OWU’s future success." Read more
Natalie Doan '03
Vice President, University Advancement
"Matt is student-oriented, strategically focused, and brings creative solutions to issues confronting liberal arts colleges. These traits, combined with his extensive fundraising experience, will shape the future of OWU, and I look forward to introducing him and his family to the OWU alumni community." Read more
Professor of Biological Sciences
"We believe the experiences Matt brings to OWU and his approach to leadership will be an excellent fit for the Ohio Wesleyan community. He understands the mission and value and culture of an institution like Ohio Wesleyan and shares the faculty’s commitment to transforming the lives of students through a liberal arts education." Read more
Peter Eastwood '91
OWU Trustee and President of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance
"Matt’s leadership experience, energy, and curiosity, coupled with his passion for liberal arts higher education, position OWU well as it develops future generations of leaders. Welcome, Matt!" Read more
"At various stages of the interview process, Matt displayed a rare combination of ambition and humility. The ambition speaks for itself. His achievements in his young career are estimable. The humility came through in a sincere readiness to listen and a desire to foreground the ideas and achievements of others." Read more
Aaron Granger '93
OWU Trustee and General Counsel & Corporate Secretary of American Freight
"The next president of Ohio Wesleyan University needs to be quick to action in moments of challenge, a proven fundraiser, an inclusive collaborator who can narrow the focus on what matters most, an innovator with bold ideas, and an empathetic custodian of the central elements of belonging. Matt vandenBerg embodies all these traits and is the best mirror we can hold up to reflect all the things that make OWU special." Read more
Director of Media & Community Relations
"Matt vandenBerg’s brain is always working. He is always asking, ‘What’s next? What can we do to make positive and meaningful change? What haven’t we even imagined yet?’ It will be exciting to be part of this everything-is-possible environment." Read more
Michelle Kilkenney '99
OWU Trustee and Partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP
"Matt is going to be an outstanding president of Ohio Wesleyan. His creative energy, coupled with his commitment to the liberal arts experience and student success, shone through and truly distinguished him as the best candidate." Read more
Myron McCoy '77
OWU Trustee and Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple
"With the many challenges facing small residential liberal arts campuses like ours, we have found in Matt one who is uniquely gifted and creatively sensitized to lead us on the next leg of the journey." Read more
John Milligan '83
OWU Trustee and Retired President and CEO of Gilead Sciences, Inc.
"Matt and his family will be a great addition to OWU. Matt is an innovative and courageous leader who will help the continuing transformation of OWU into a premier liberal arts institution." Read more
Associate Professor of World Languages & Cultures
"Matt brings a lot of exciting ideas and positive, creative energy to Ohio Wesleyan. His experience with innovation and fundraising in higher ed will be of great help to our university as we navigate new challenges and opportunities in the years ahead." Read more
Cole Peterson '23
Vice President, Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs (WCSA)
"I am very excited for Matt’s appointment as Ohio Wesleyan’s new president. Our experience as students is at the forefront of his decision-making, and it’s clear that he cares about doing what’s best for both the student body and the university. As a senior, I’m sorry that I won’t be able to see his energy and passion firsthand." Read more