Bluffton University names new president

BLUFFTON — Bluffton University’s board of trustees has named a new president. Jane Wood will start July 1.

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


Her previous professional positions were at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania; Park University and University of Missouri, both in Kansas City, Missouri; and at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas.

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.

“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 Kent Yoder, chairman of the Bluffton University board.

“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. The board is united in agreement that Dr. Jane Wood is the right person for this time in Bluffton’s history,” Yoder said.

Wood follows James M. Harder, who will retire in June after completing 12 years as president at Bluffton University and more than 30 years working in higher education.

“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,” Wood 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.

“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,” Wood 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.”

Bluffton’s presidential search process was led by Cheryl Hacker, Bluffton alumna and vice chair of the board of trustees. The search committee included board members, faculty, staff, a student, a community member, the president of the Bluffton University Alumni Association, a representative from Mennonite Education Agency, and alumni representatives from the Ohio Conference and the Central District Conference of Mennonite Church USA.

The committee began its work in September and received more than 50 applications for the presidency.


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