Mount Union Names Dr. Jeffrey R. Breese Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the University
April 18, 2017
ALLIANCE, Ohio – Dr. Jeffrey R. Breese has been named vice president for academic affairs and dean at the University of Mount Union, President Dick Merriman has announced. The appointment comes as the result of a national search carried out in partnership with AGB Search of Washington, DC.
Breese, who currently serves as the provost and vice president of academic affairs at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, will assume his new duties at Mount Union in early July.
“After leading a national search, Jeff emerged as the successful candidate from among an excellent pool,” Merriman said. “He brings to us extensive, successful experience with a number of matters that are front and center for Mount Union's future, including organization of the academic affairs unit as we continue our evolution into a comprehensive university, and evolving structures and processes for faculty participation in University governance. He also has a background in faculty development to support excellence in teaching, fostering academic success for first-generation college students and minority students, service-learning and experiential learning, institutional effectiveness, and academic outcomes assessment.”
A native of Ohio, Breese graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Youngstown State University. He then went on to earn a Master of Arts degree from Ohio University and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Akron, both in sociology as well. His core areas of focus within the discipline are social psychology, race and ethnicity, and applied sociology.
"As a native of the area, I come into this position already aware of the high quality and strong reputation of the University of Mount Union’s academic program,” said Breese. “I look forward to partnering with colleagues as Mount Union continues its transition into a comprehensive university, one that combines preparation for career success with a strong focus and tradition in the liberal arts and sciences. The opportunity is exciting to me, and it draws upon my experiences in academic affairs leadership."
Breese has spent his entire academic career at private colleges and universities. After completing his graduate work, he served for nine years as a faculty member at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, where he was also department chair and chair of the College’s Faculty Assembly. He also served as an associate dean for four years at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia before assuming the role of dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri.
During the third year of his appointment as dean at Rockhurst, he was tapped to serve as the interim vice president for academic affairs. He served in the chief academic officer role for more than two years, during which he oversaw the successful 2012 Higher Learning Commission’s Comprehensive team visit to Rockhurst. A number of new programs – graduate and undergraduate – were launched with his oversight during this period as well.
Breese also served as the vice president for academic affairs at Manchester University in North Manchester, Indiana.
As a sociologist, a portion of Breese’s research has focused on Northeastern Ohio. His doctoral dissertation focused on adult/non-traditional women students completing their education at Youngstown State University. The study focused on “role exit theory” as it applied to the life transitions of these women. He has also applied this theoretical framework to studies on homeless women and their children in the Akron, Ohio area and to academic administrators making the transition from faculty member to academic deans and provosts.
In 2009, he co-edited the book Doing Sociology: Case Studies in Sociological Practice. The book provides an overview of how the discipline of sociology can be applied in a variety of ways, including grant writing, consultation work, community engagement, and state-wide research projects.
Professionally, Breese served as the president of the Society for Applied Sociology in 2002. During his term, he helped to facilitate the initial discussions of a merger of this organization with a sister clinical sociology organization. That merger led to the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACS). AACS twice honored Breese – in 2006 with the Alex Boros Award for making contributions to the professional organization, and in 2010 with the Lester Ward Award for distinguished scholarship in the field of applied sociology.
“I am very grateful to the search committee, led by Dr. Scott Mason, professor of chemistry and director of the pre-medicine and pre-health professions program, and Michelle Sundstrom, vice president for enrollment management,” said Merriman. “The committee's members brought great energy and insight to their work of evaluating applicants, recommending finalists, and orchestrating candidate interviews on campus. The feedback of the search committee, in addition to input from all those in the campus community who participated in the interview process, was most valuable in identifying the strengths and relevant experiences of the candidates.”