Dr. Richard F. Giese Granted Emeritus Status

October 17, 2014

ALLIANCE, Ohio – The University of Mount Union Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday to name the institution’s new performing arts center, currently under construction on campus, in honor of Dr. Richard and Mrs. Sandra Giese. Richard has served as president of the institution since 2005, when he and Sandra returned to Mount Union and the Alliance community they had called home for 19 years.

Prior to returning to Mount Union, Richard served as president of Monmouth College in Illinois for eight years, but his first job in higher education was as a faculty member and basketball coach at Averett College in Danville, Virginia. In the summer of 1978, Richard came to Mount Union as a faculty member and head men's basketball and tennis coach. He then served in increasingly responsible administrative positions for Mount Union, including vice president for enrollment services and vice president for advancement. He was part of Mount Union's administrative leadership team at a time when Mount Union experienced unprecedented growth in enrollment and endowment.

Richard earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia College in 1971. He holds three advanced degrees including a Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary in Exile (Seminex), a Master of Arts degree from Washington University and a doctoral degree from Kent State University. He also attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Harvard Seminar for New Presidents.

Sandra is a former elementary school principal in the Alliance City School system and a Mount Union graduate who also earned graduate degrees from Kent State University and the University of Akron. She has taught at both the University of Akron and Monmouth College.

In January, Richard announced that he would step down as president of the University at the close of his current contract on June 30, 2015.

“As the Gieses enter their final year at Mount Union, it is only fitting that we think of a way to recognize and honor them for their exceptional service to the University,” said Randy Hunt ’75, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Their passion for this new facility has been evident from the beginning, and they were instrumental in pushing us to move forward with the challenge of making it a reality. It is only appropriate that it be their names etched in stone on its facade, that their legacy be honored by all those who enter its doors.”

Since returning to the University, the Gieses have worked collectively with the members of the Mount Union community to accomplish a number of goals under six strategic initiatives of Advancing Excellence – A Strategic Plan for the University of Mount Union that include developing a curriculum for the future, fostering an engaging campus community, managing strategic enrollment growth, ensuring the sustainable management of resources, enhancing the diversity of the campus community and broadening the visibility and reputation of the institution. Some of the key highlights include:

  • The addition of 22 new undergraduate programs in high-demand fields
  • The development and launch of two graduate programs – physician assistant studies and educational leadership
  • The announcement of the potential addition of a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program pending the appropriate approvals
  • The development and launch of a new general education model – the Integrative Core – and the change from a three-credit to four-credit hour system
  • A $100 million investment in campus over the course of the past decade
  • An enhanced partnership with the City of Alliance through service-learning and community service initiatives, programs that bring students and business leaders together, workshops held on campus, work with local school districts and partnerships with the city government and Chamber of Commerce
  • The maintenance of enrollment in an extremely challenging economic environment, including this fall’s 10-year high in total student full-time enrollment of 2,263 with an overall fourth all-time best freshman class of 694
  • The closing of the Drive for Distinction Campaign with $82 million raised a year ahead of schedule and a $25 million campaign for the health and medical science building and performing arts center projects
  • 60 years of balanced financial operations
  • Four of the most successful fundraising years to date
  • A diverse student population of 16%
  • The change of the institution’s designation from “college” to “university”
  • A high graduate success rate with 98% of self-reporting 2013 graduates having secured degree-required employment or graduate school placement, all in an average of 30 days after graduation

The Gieses are true partners in serving Mount Union. They travel extensively to host alumni events. Sandra also takes a very active role in fundraising for the University and supporting the Mount Union community as a whole. She is an active member of numerous campus committees, including the Sustainability Management Advisory Committee and Campus Events Committee and actively works with architects and designers on new building projects.

“By all measures it has been a fantastic ride,” said Hunt. “With the Gieses at helm of Mount Union, the University has experienced incredible success. They have earned the respect of the entire Mount Union Community through their hard work and dedication. Looking back over nearly 30 years of dedicated service to the institution, the results of their efforts can clearly be seen and will remain apparent to all for many years to come.”

The recent successes accomplished during the Gieses’ time on campus are equally matched by their extensive involvement in the Alliance community. He is the past president of the Alliance Economic Development Committee and a member of the Economic Development Committee of the Chamber of Commerce and Stark Development Board. She is the past vice president of the Alliance YMCA Board of Directors, a member of the boards of Rodman Library and the Alliance for Children and Families, a committee member of the adult career training assistance program (a subcommittee of the Greater Alliance Foundation) and a member of Alliance’s “One Book One Community” group. She was also appointed by the mayor to serve as a representative on the Board of the Early Childhood Education Alliance. In addition, the Gieses are members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

In recognition of their strong and impactful commitment to the community, the Gieses were named Citizens of the Year in 2014 by the City of Alliance.

The Gieses' son Matthew is an Alliance High School graduate who also shares his parents’ passion for community service. A physician who earned a bachelor's degree from Allegheny College and a medical degree from the Medical School of Toledo, he completed his residency in family practice at the University of Virginia. Today, he serves the Orange, Virginia community by assisting with medical needs in the area at a free clinic.  He and his wife Bela, also a physician, live in Charlottesville, Virginia. They are the parents of two boys, Jack and Ben.

The Giese Center for the Performing Arts, which comes in the form of a significant renovation and addition to the west end of the existing arts facility, emerged as a priority during the University’s campus master planning process carried out in partnership with Cleveland-based architectural and engineering firm Westlake Reed Leskosky. The facility will include a new lobby, proscenium theatre, black box theatre, green room, scene shop, costume shop, dressing area, art gallery and choir room as well as a renovated band room. The total cost for the project is estimated at $13 million.

The facility is expected to open in January 2015 in time for the start of the spring semester. In conjunction with the opening, Mount Union has designated 2015 as “The Year of the Arts” on campus and a full schedule of events is currently being planned.

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