Rock Jones
President Rock Jones

Ohio Wesleyan is a small national University with a major international presence. Already honored as one of the nation’s finest liberal arts undergraduate institutions, we continue to augment opportunities for our students through the OWU Connection, our signature experience.

Guided by our caring and mentoring faculty, the OWU Connection helps students to think big (understand issues from multiple academic disciplines), go global (gain international perspective through classroom and travel experience), get real (translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience through research projects, internships, and more), and do good (participate in service to others).

Through the OWU Connection, students are fanning out across the world, already having completed on-the-ground research and other educational experiences in more than 60 countries. (International travel has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but we are looking forward to its full return.)

In addition, OWU's innovative faculty are revising the academic curriculum to include three pillars: a universal first-year seminar designed to provide students with the foundational academic skills they need to thrive at Ohio Wesleyan; course requirements based on core competencies intended to teach students to think, speak, and act as engaged global citizens; and a universal requirement that all students complete at least one OWU Connection experience before they graduate.

The curriculum enables Ohio Wesleyan to focus on its core strengths and support students as they prepare for their future careers, advanced degree aspirations, and successful roles as global citizens and thought leaders. 

Along with sending our students out into the world, Ohio Wesleyan also brings the world to campus. We currently enroll students from more than 30 countries. Both in and outside the classroom, our international students bring valuable perspectives to every discussion of world events and help the entire student body understand global issues in ways they might not otherwise consider.

This emphasis on a worldwide perspective is not new to Ohio Wesleyan. From our founding, we have believed that a liberal arts education helps students develop the qualities necessary for leadership and innovation. Students here expand their world view and learn to look beyond traditional boundaries for answers, to challenge long-held assumptions, to appreciate diversity of cultures, and to embrace new ideas and technologies.

In addition to our curricular enhancements, we also are renewing our physical facilities to provide the best learning and living environment for our students. One of our newer campus additions is the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University, a business accelerator and education center created in collaboration with the City of Delaware and Delaware County.

The center provides students with hands-on opportunities to help conduct business and market research, create launch plans, and provide other services to help community entrepreneurs turn concepts into companies. Every outside entrepreneur using the center offers at least one student internship.

In addition, we continue to improve the residential experience with new donor-funded Small Living Units, Honors House, and House of Black Culture. Our first on-campus apartment complex, which houses 124 senior students, opened in 2021, as did our fully renovated Smith Hall, a custom-designed living and learning community for first-year students.

We have more to cheer about, too, when it comes to our Battling Bishop athletes. We offer 24 varsity athletics – 12 for women and 12 for men – with the newest addition being men's wrestling. In fall 2022, our first esports team begins competition. In addition, the OWU Marching Band adds energy and excitement to athletics and other campus and community events.

In the midst of change, Ohio Wesleyan's commitment to community service remains strong; each year, more than 80 percent of our students participate in service locally, nationally, and internationally. This traditionally includes spring break Interfaith Service teams, with recent missions in the United States and in Dominica, El Salvador, Rome, Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras, Vietnam, and at the Mexican border. Interfaith Service teams are one more way OWU students encounter the world.

I am honored to lead Ohio Wesleyan during this exciting time of change and growth. My sincere hope is that you will explore everything Ohio Wesleyan has to offer, connect to the campus community (and the world!), and find yourself at home here. OWU truly is for YOU.

Best Regards,

Rock Jones

Under Rock's leadership, Ohio Wesleyan has:

  • Created a University-wide strategic plan to renew its curriculum and solidify Ohio Wesleyan as a national leader in liberal arts education. Toward that end, members of the OWU faculty have been imagining and implementing the OWU Connection, a curricular initiative that helps students link academic theory with real-world practice as they prepare for global citizenship and leadership.
  • Added the Bachelor of Science to the list of degrees we confer, which also includes, as of fall 2021, the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts. Currently, students are able to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in astrophysics, chemistry, physics, geology, and microbiology.
  • Completed an $8 million, donor-funded restoration of Merrick Hall to create a physical hub for students to learn more about The OWU Connection and all of the educational opportunities available to them during their four years at Ohio Wesleyan.
  • Expanded The David O. Robbins Neuroscience Program with a $5 million endowment gift to add three faculty members, increasing learning and research opportunities for students with an interest in neuroscience.
  • Created a long-term $60 million Residential Renewal program to enhance student housing. These donor-funded efforts include:
    • Completing a $14 million restoration of Stuyvesant Hall, OWU’s oldest residence hall.
    • Building the $2 million, 27-bed Gillespie Honors House to create a larger, more modern space for OWU's Honors students, complete with room to support academic programming.
    • Constructing three Small Living Unit duplexes (called "SLUplexes) on Rowland Avenue. Each SLU creates a communal environment for 12 students interested in a specific topic such as environmental, social justice, or LGBTIQA issues. 
    • Constructing the new Butler A. Jones House of Black Culture on the site of the original house. A part of the OWU campus since the 1970s, the dwelling creates a welcoming cultural and personal space for African American and other students.
    • Renovating several Williams Drive residential buildings, including creation of the Bigelow-Reed House, a living-learning space for students interested in the business world, and the Panhellenic House, the first dwelling in the United States purposely created to provide women from multiple sororities with a collaborative Greek residential environment.
    • Building Bradford Milligan Hall, OWU's first on-campus apartment complex. Opened in 2021, the 46,500-square-foot building houses 124 senior students. 
    • Fully renovating Smith Hall to create a living and learning community for first-year students that encourages them to connect with their peers and persist to graduation.

  • Enhanced the athletic facilities that support OWU’s 24 men’s and women’s varsity sports as well as its many intramural and club sports. These efforts include:
    • Building the Meek Aquatics and Recreation Center – Ohio Wesleyan’s first LEED-certified “green” building – with a 10-lane pool, 13-foot-deep diving well, and 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards. More than 90 geothermal wells help to heat and cool the Meek Center.
    • Fully renovating Branch Rickey Arena with new flooring, bleachers, scoreboards, sound system, air-conditioning, concession stand, and more. The arena is home to OWU's men's and women's basketball, wrestling, and volleyball teams.
    • Creating the Simpson Querrey Fitness Center by renovating the former Pfeiffer Natatorium to include work-out areas, a dance studio with stadium-style seating, and office space for the Department of Health and Human Kinetics.
    • Restoring Edwards Gymnasium, including fully refurbishing both the weight room and the second-floor basketball court.
    • Opening the Luttinger Family Tennis Center, with six courts on the east side of Henry Street and six refurbished courts on the west side. All courts feature a DecoTurf surface, identical to the surface used at the U.S. Open and the last two Olympic Games.
    • Adding stadium lighting at Selby Stadium to support night games for varsity and intramural sports teams. The lighting also helped to support the University’s selection as host of the NCAA Division III men’s and women’s outdoor track & field championships in 2011 and 2014.

  • Launched the $200 million “Connect Today, Create Tomorrow” capital campaign -- the largest in OWU history --  to enhance access and affordability for students through scholarship endowment; recognize and reward faculty excellence and innovation; and improve the physical campus. After a quiet leadership phase, the public phase of the campaign was launched on Oct. 20, 2017. When the campaign concluded on June 30, 2021, it had raised $237,995,578 in gifts and pledges – surpassing even its $225 million stretch goal by nearly $13 million.
  • Received two record-setting contributions of $8 million each within an eight-month time span. The contributions represent the largest single gifts in Ohio Wesleyan history. The first, from an anonymous alumni couple, was used to renovate Merrick Hall. The second, from alumnus Louis A. Simpson ’58 and his wife, Kimberly Querrey, was used to create the Simpson Querrey Fitness Center and support the Edwards Gymnasium renovation.
  • Received a $10 million contribution from an anonymous alumni couple -- eclipsing the previous gifts of $8 million to become the largest single gift in OWU history. The funds, announced in May 2019, supported the renovation of Slocum Hall, which reopened in fall 2022.  

Locally, President Jones serves on the boards of the Strand Theatre and the Community Foundation of Delaware County, where he chairs the Investment Committee.

He also is the past president of the North Coast Athletic Conference and a current member of the NCAC Presidents' Council; president of the University Senate of the United Methodist Church; immediate past chair and a current member of the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes Colleges Association; a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio; a member of the Board of Governors of Wesley Theological Seminary, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. 

He and his wife, Melissa Lollar Jones, have three adult children.



President’s Office
Ohio Wesleyan University
University Hall 101
Delaware, OH 43015
P 740-368-3003
F 740-368-3007
E president@owu.edu