If you weren’t a college president, what would you be?I’ve been a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs, so I would love to be a part of that organization. Although there was a time in my life when I would have wanted to be their short stop, today, I think general manager would be the position for me.
What is number one on your bucket list?There is so much to do and see in the world, and Sandy and I love to explore when we get the opportunity. Although there are many sites we’d like to see and experiences we’d like to have, a trip down the Amazon River tops our list. We hope to undertake that adventure soon.
What is your favorite book?Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin…I’ve always been fascinated with President Abraham Lincoln and his rise from humble beginnings to one of the great leaders in our country’s history. It was particularly interesting to read of how he, upon election, chose to surround himself with his political rivals by inviting them to be part of his cabinet. It was not just about the old adage of “keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” but about surrounding himself with the most brilliant and strategic political minds of the day.
What is your favorite quote or motto?“The more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know.” How true is that? It’s been said by many, give or take a few changes in wording throughout the years, but the roots of this idea can be traced all the way back to Socrates. You can’t really argue with Socrates!
What is one thing most people would be surprised to find out about you?Last summer, Sandy and I went zip lining over the Costa Rican rain forest. I wouldn’t exactly call us “thrill seekers,” but we do like a good adventure! It was exhilarating!
Dr. Richard F. Giese
President of the University of Mount Union
In 2005, I was thrilled to return to Alliance, Ohio and the University of Mount Union, a place I had called home for much of my professional life, to serve as the 11th president. I knew it was my responsibility to carry on the strong tradition established by the 10 presidents that came before me, and I welcomed the challenge. For eight years prior, I had served as president of Monmouth College in Illinois, but prior to holding that post, I was a faculty member and in increasingly responsible administrative positions for Mount Union, including vice president for enrollment services and vice president for advancement. I was fortunate to be part of Mount Union's administrative leadership team at a time when Mount Union experienced unprecedented growth in enrollment and endowment. Since returning, I have enjoyed working with my administrative team and the entire Mount Union community to continue this success.
Getting His Foot in the Door
My first job in higher education was as a faculty member and basketball coach at Averett College in Danville, VA. In my second year at Averett (1978), I was humbled to be selected as Coach of the Year in the Dixie Conference. In the summer of 1978, my wife Sandy and I came to Mount Union, where I initially served as a faculty member and head men's basketball and tennis coach.
A University on the Move
One thing I truly love about the Mount Union community is the willingness to grow, change and adapt to the needs of the students of today. Since 2005, we have celebrated record enrollment, added 20 new undergraduate majors, launched our first graduate programs in nearly a century, added new apartment-style housing options, renovated all of our traditional residence halls and expanded our recreation and wellness center as well as our dining commons. All the while, we are committed to providing students with a rigorous academic program, featuring hands-on preparation, a global perspective and an ethical foundation, to stay competitive in a fast-paced world. I encourage you to read more about our recent accomplishments, which include a strong commitment to diversity and sustainability. Mount Union is truly on the move.
An Education of Value
There is no doubt that a college education requires a significant investment, and I assure you that a Mount Union degree is worth every penny. We provide an exceptional experience that has been recognized for its combination of benefit and value – a proven investment as evidenced by the success and satisfaction of our students and graduates and accolades of which we are proud. Recently, Mount Union was ranked #1 in the Great Lakes Region for return on investment by collegefactual.com, and the University is consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and Washington Monthly as a top college. Even more meaningful is the 95% of alumni who expressed satisfaction with their Mount Union education in a recent independent survey. And, let’s not forget the success of our graduates – in a poll of the members of Class of 2012, 98% of respondents had started careers related to their degrees or were accepted to graduate school. I could continue to write about our accolades for quite some time, but instead, I’ll direct you to our value site for more information.
Engaging with Students
Mount Union has long been known for its friendliness and welcoming atmosphere, and Sandy and I believe wholeheartedly in the personal approach. That’s why we take advantage of countless opportunities to engage and support the students of our community. From student events to music recitals, research presentations to special lectures, we truly enjoy engaging with our students and witnessing first hand their talents, knowledge and successes. When you see us out in the community, please say hello, and know that at some point during your time on campus you will be invited to our home. In fact, at the start of each academic year, all incoming freshmen are invited to our house for a picnic to kick off the new year, and we also welcome leaders, student athletes, members of the fraternity and sorority community and other student body representatives for an array of events that celebrate their successes.
Since returning to Mount Union, I have made it a priority to work closely with faculty, staff and students to develop a plan for the future. In 2010, we launched Advancing Excellence: A Strategic Plan for the University of Mount Union, which features six strategic initiatives – develop a curriculum for the future, foster an engaging campus community, manage strategic enrollment growth, ensure the sustainable management of resources, enhance the diversity of our campus community and broaden the visibility and reputation of the institution. Guided by these initiatives, Mount Union continues to experience tremendous success, and I am proud of all that the university has been able to accomplish.
Serving the Community
Our mission at Mount Union is to prepare students for fulfilling lives, meaningful work and responsible citizenship, and as president, I believe that I should “walk the walk” and live this mission. That’s why I believe it is critical to serve as an active member of the Alliance and surrounding community. I currently serve as the past president of the Alliance Economic Development Committee, member of the Economic Development Committee of the Chamber of Commerce and member of the Stark Development Board as well as a number of other community organizations. I enjoy giving back to Alliance and living in a community that benefits from the continually beneficial partnership forged between the University and the City.
I am extremely proud of my family! My wife, Sandy, is a former elementary school principal in the Alliance City School system and a Mount Union graduate who also earned graduate degrees from both Kent State University and the University of Akron. Sandy shares my passion to serve the community, and is past vice president of the Alliance YMCA Board of Directors, a member of the boards of Rodman Library and The Alliance for Children and Family, a committee member of the adult career training assistance program (a subcommittee of the Greater Alliance Foundation) that provides financial assistance to adults for job training as a means of self improvement and a member of Alliance’s “One Book One Community” group. She was also appointed by the mayor to serve as representative on the Board of the Early Childhood Education Alliance. She has taught at both the University of Akron and Monmouth College.
We are very proud of our son Matthew, who is an Alliance High School graduate and a physician in Virginia. He earned a bachelor's degree from Allegheny College, a medical degree from the Medical School of Toledo and completed his residency in family practice at the University of Virginia. He and his wife Bela, also a physician, live in Charlottsville, VA, and he serves the Orange, VA community by assisting with medical needs in the area at a free clinic. They are the parents of our two, very energetic grandsons, Jack and Ben.
B.A., Concordia College
M.Div., Seminary in Exile (Seminex)
M.A., Washington University
Ph.D., Kent State University
Harvard Graduate School of Education and Harvard Seminar for New Presidents