Press Release

February 24, 2024 | By Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan student Ella Holtsberry presents platform testimony during the university's 2024 Republican Mock Presidential Convention. Students nominated Mitt Romney and OWU President Matt vandenBerg, respectively, for the GOP presidential and vice presidential ticket at the Feb. 23-24 event. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

That's the Ticket

Ohio Wesleyan Chooses Romney-vandenBerg for President, Vice President at GOP Mock Convention

DELAWARE, Ohio – It's a Mitt Romney-Matt vandenBerg ticket for Ohio Wesleyan University as students concluded their two-day Republican Mock Presidential Convention today. Ohio Wesleyan's Mock Convention, first held in 1884, is the oldest such event in U.S. higher education.

Romney was nominated as the Mock Convention's presidential nominee following a run-off election against music's Queen Bey, Beyoncé. Also nominated were GOP politicians Nikki Haley and Liz Cheney, and OWU mascot Bob the Bishop. (Ohio Wesleyan students also chose Romney as their GOP candidate at their once-every-four-year Mock Convention in 2012.)

Ohio Wesleyan President Matt vandenBerg and daughter, Sylvia, are part of the Ohio delegation at Mock Convention. He abstained in a vote that resulted in his being nominated for the U.S. vice presidency, but Sylvia enthusiastically voted for her dad. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

No run-off was needed for Ohio Wesleyan President Matt vandenBerg, who defeated former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to earn a spot as Romney's running mate. Also nominated to become the 2024 vice presidential candidate were Nikki Haley and Liz Cheney, as well as former Ohio State Rep. Wesley Goodman (OWU 2006) and actor Matthew McConaughey.

Although the two-day event had its lighthearted moments, the Mock Convention also enabled Ohio Wesleyan students to debate and amend a Republican Party platform that was written by students following a series of policy-related panel discussions in the fall.

Several GOP current and former officeholders also spoke to convention-goers, encouraging the students to be active and engaged citizens and, as noted by all, to vote at every opportunity.

Former Ohio Lieutenant Gov. Nancy Hollister also encouraged the OWU students to always "participate, listen, learn, contribute."

"Quite frankly, this world is going to be yours," said Hollister, who also served as Ohio's first woman governor when she held the top spot for 11 days in 1998 following Gov. George Voinovich's resignation to become a U.S. senator.

"You have an incredible opportunity," Hollister said. "You won't solve all the problems – but make a dent in them."

The Mock Convention concluded with awards being handed out to individuals and state delegations for their exemplary event involvement. Those recognized with debate awards were:

  • The Bush Award for Economic Policy: Ella Holtsberry of Granville, Ohio.
  • The Theodore Roosevelt Award for Domestic Policy: Saharla Loyan of Westerville, Ohio.
  • The Eisenhower Award for Foreign Policy: Raazia Aamir of Karachi, Pakistan.

State delegations recognized for their participation were:

  • The Lincoln Award for Most Patriotic State: Alabama
  • The Reagan Award for Most Spirited State: Texas
  • The Hayes Award for Best Nomination Speech: Utah and faculty member Ashley Biser
  • The Silver Elephant Award for Best State Banner: Florida

Because the event always features the party out of the White House, the 2024 Mock Convention focused on the Republican race. The theme of this year's Mock Convention was "The Elephant in the Room."

At nine previous mock conventions, the candidate OWU chose for president was the same candidate nominated at the national convention – a phenomenon that has been repeated three times in choosing the candidate for vice president. In 1984, OWU matched the full Democratic slate of Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro.

OWU's Mock Convention tradition dates back 140 years – making it the nation's oldest collegiate mock convention. It has been held in conjunction with nearly every presidential election since 1920. Learn more about Mock Convention – including the candidates students selected at all previous events – at

View photos from the event.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation's premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 70 undergraduate majors and competes in 24 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through its signature experience, the OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan teaches students to understand issues from multiple academic perspectives, volunteer in service to others, build a diverse and global perspective, and translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience through internships, research, and other hands-on learning. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book "Colleges That Change Lives" and included on the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review "Best Colleges" lists. Connect with OWU expert interview sources at or learn more at