By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
BLUFFTON — Incoming Bluffton University President Jane Wood is excited about her new job for several reasons, she said Monday in her introduction to campus.
She is excited about the future, especially in regard to “disruptive technology.”
Students are preparing “for careers that have not yet been invented,” Wood said. “Not since the invention of the printing press has the world been as disrupted as it has been by the arrival of the internet.”
That disruption isn’t all bad, she said. Wood looks forward to the opening of Bluffton’s new Austin E. Knowlton Science Center.
Wood also said she’s excited to explore “the enduring questions of our time” with the campus and community.
“Each generation of students needs to recognize and address the social justice or injustice of its time. Bluffton University can continue to differentiate itself and foster its identity through the ongoing search for peace and justice,” she said, adding that the world lacks “civil discourse and meaningful compromise.”
Wood praised “the mission and core values of the institution: discovery, community, respect and service.”
Wood said “higher education faces a time of significant change,” but added that “what I believe will remain true in higher education is exactly what has made Bluffton University a stable presence for 119 years. The tradition of higher education … will not falter, nor will it fail.”
Wood said she is “excited to consider the good work of President James Harder and the presidents who preceded him in affirming the value proposition of a small, quiet, Christian university.”
Harder will retire June 30. He has served as president since August 2006.
Wood is currently vice president of academic affairs and dean of Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota. She previously served in the same role at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.
She has also worked for Park University in Kansas City, Missouri, and Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas.
Her degrees are all in English literature: a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Kansas.
She was one of more than 50 people who applied for the job.
“We believe Jane Wood meets all the attributes identified in the presidential profile,” said Cheryl Hacker, vice chair of the board of trustees, who led the presidential search committee.
She praised Wood’s past success in growing enrollment and building relationships.
“She is a collaborator. She is a committed Christian with leadership and experience at both Catholic and Protestant institutions, and has a passion for social justice. She is from the Methodist faith and exemplifies Bluffton values,” Hacker said
The committee sought “a visionary leader able to prioritize and lead by ideas, while building trust among and between all Bluffton constituencies, and a person of Christian faith who understands, embraces and reflects the Mennonite values that ground Bluffton,” Hacker said.
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.