Matt and Melissa vandenBerg will move to Delaware with their two children, Jackson, age 10, and Sylvia, age 6, and their 1-year-old golden retriever, Penny. (Photo by Frankie Creel)

Ohio Wesleyan announced in January that Matthew P. vandenBerg, Ed.D., will succeed Rock Jones and become OWU’s 17th president when he takes office July 1. He most recently was president of Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina.

“Ohio Wesleyan is poised for greatness,” says Nick Calio ’75, 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 Trott ’83, chair of the Presidential Search Committee and vice chair of the OWU Board of Trustees, says, “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. 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 says 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 says. “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 says. “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.”

He jumped into OWU’s enrollment push in March, with encouragement from Jones, filming a brief video message that was sent to prospective students explaining why he’s joining OWU—and why they should join him.

During his two years at Presbyterian, his many achievements included:

  • Growing first-year student admission substantially in his first year as president.
  • Leading the college through an intensive and inclusive process to identify a distinctive new market position as “America’s Innovative Service College” and launching a strategic plan, with unanimous Board of Trustees’ approval, to support the position.
  • Building a new Division of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the college, including an endowed vice presidency.
  • Building partnerships with the community to drive economic development, cultural enrichment, and student engagement.
  • Launching the nation’s largest service-based entrepreneurship case competition for high school seniors.
  • Leading the college’s most productive fundraising year in its history.

Amy Downing, professor of biological sciences, says the faculty look forward to working with the new president to ensure students are ready to achieve their career and graduate school goals.

“We believe the experiences Matt brings to OWU and his approach to leadership will be an excellent fit for the Ohio Wesleyan community,” says Downing. “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. He is creative with bold ideas and a proven ability to execute them. The faculty are eager to partner with Matt as we envision the future directions for OWU.”

The fall issue of OWU Magazine will include much more about OWU’s new president, including an interview exploring his goals for Ohio Wesleyan.