Feature Story

Meet OWU’s Vice President for Student Engagement and Success

August 11, 2016 – by Gopika Nair ’18

Dwayne Todd says he looks forward to getting to know OWU's students in his new role as vice president for student engagement and success.

Dwayne Todd Plans to Energize the Ohio Wesleyan Experience

Dwayne Todd, Ohio Wesleyan University’s new vice president for student engagement and success, has a big goal for the upcoming academic year: He wants to power up the student experience by increasing the level of excitement at OWU.

“Students seem to love this place,” Todd says, “but what I hear is that there is a lack of energy sometimes on campus.”

Excitement can be fostered through traditional means, Todd says, including opportunities to wear OWU gear, chant along to cheers, attend games and performances, and unite as a community. But there are many other ways to raise the level of excitement on campus as well.

Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Todd says he has had his eye on Ohio Wesleyan for a long time, so he jumped at the chance to join the University in a leadership role.

From observing data, he noticed that OWU’s diversity set it apart from other liberal arts colleges in the state. Compared to the other Five Colleges of Ohio schools (Denison University, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, and The College of Wooster), Ohio Wesleyan seemed to have a student body that represented broader backgrounds and characteristics.  OWU’s diversity is one of the aspects that drew him to the school, Todd says.

Todd received his bachelor’s degree in music from Samford University, a private school much like OWU, located in Birmingham, Alabama.

“When I have a chance to talk with parents who are wondering, ‘Why is my kid studying this? That doesn’t seem like a career path,’ I like to remind them that most of them aren’t doing what they thought they would be doing at 18 years old,” he says.

Todd studied music growing up and enjoyed it, so he decided to major in it while at college. Samford University, like Ohio Wesleyan, provides a variety of course offerings, which gave Todd a chance to learn several core subjects and relish the experience of learning.

He went on to get his master’s degree in theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, but found his vocational purpose while working in student affairs at Texas Christian University. He completed a Ph.D. in higher education administration from The Ohio State University, and has now worked in this field for more than 20 years, coming to Ohio Wesleyan from the Columbus College of Art & Design. He continues to pursue music as a hobby and has been singing with the Columbus Symphony Chorus for 16 years.

In addition to music, Todd, a resident of downtown Columbus, says he enjoys dining out and has been exploring Delaware through its restaurants.

When fall semester starts, Todd says he looks forward to connecting with students, meeting with the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs to learn more about student priorities, and helping first-year students to acclimate to life at OWU.

With regard to advice Todd would give first-year students, “I would say that what changes for them with college is that they’re now in the driver’s seat and the experience is what they make of it,” he says. “So, we’ll provide opportunities for them, and it’s really incumbent upon them to jump in with both feet.”