This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Bluffton University names next president

BLUFFTON, Ohio —  Jane Wood has accepted the call to serve as Bluffton University’s next president, beginning July 1. The board of trustees made the announcement Feb. 23.

Wood is vice president of academic affairs and dean at Mount Marty College, a Benedictine liberal arts and co-educational institution in Yankton, S.D.

bluffton president wood jane webWood, who comes from a United Methodist Church background, will be formally introduced as the 10th president of Bluffton with a reception in March after the university’s spring break.

She follows James M. Harder, who will retire in June after 12 years as president and more than 30 years in higher education.

“Dr. Wood has demonstrated success in achieving enrollment growth at several institutions by leading academic program innovation, strategic planning, alignment and visioning processes that moved those institutions forward, along with proven success in building relationships for public and private partnerships to broaden the school’s reach,” said board chair Kent Yoder.

“She is a committed Christian with leadership experience at both Catholic and Protestant institutions and has a passion for social justice. We are excited that she was drawn to Bluffton for its mission, history and faith tradition rooted in peace and social justice.”

Wood has held positions at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa.; Park University and University of Missouri, both in Kansas City, Mo.; and at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan.

Her experience in higher education includes positions as a tenured faculty member, department chair, academic dean and vice president. Wood earned her doctorate and master’s degree in English literature from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Missouri.

“This is an exciting time in the life of Bluffton University, and it will be an honor to build on the substantial and outstanding programs that are already in place and innovate with the campus community to build new programs that will provide sustainable bridges to the future,” she said.

“I will lead with an appreciation for Bluffton’s history and its fine reputation as an institution firmly rooted in the ideals of the liberal arts and sciences and framed by the values of the Mennonite/Anabaptist faith.

“Bluffton’s compelling mission, distinctive history and traditions offer an opportunity to refine and connect a successful past with an exciting future.”

In her previous roles, Wood worked collaboratively with faculty, staff, students and public and private partners to develop strategic plans that spurred enrollment growth.

“I believe there are significant growth opportunities for right-sized, Christian, liberal arts institutions who work closely with for-profit and nonprofit entities to identify the best fit for students for internships, future employment and partnership investments in key identified areas of the university’s academic programs,” she said.

“These initiatives must be balanced with a commitment to a core liberal arts education that equips graduates for success across the full range of professions and for advanced studies in a constantly changing world.”

Wood said she understands the power of faith as it resonates in individual lives and infuses organizations.

“Faith is central in my own life, and my integrity is guided by my deepening spiritual compass,” she said. “I am drawn to Bluff­ton’s Mennonite/Anabaptist faith history for multiple reasons. As a trained mediator, I am committed to Bluffton’s restorative justice principles and understand that Bluffton has always been welcoming to students of all faith backgrounds and is committed to encouraging informed understanding and dialogue, core values that are in great need during this time in our nation and our world. Bluffton’s mission is both special and essential and why I feel called to serve and lead at this time.”

The search process was led by board vice chair Cheryl Hacker.

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