Office of the President
Dr. W. Richard Merriman, Jr. serves as Mount Union’s 12th president, a position he began in July 2015 following the conclusion of a six-month nationwide search and the unanimous approval of the Board of Trustees.
Dr. Merriman’s professional background is rich with experience in higher education leadership. Prior to joining the Mount Union community, Dr. Merriman served for 17 years as president of Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas.
During his service at Southwestern, a private, United Methodist Church-affiliated institution of about 1,700 students, Merriman guided the college through a period of significant growth in enrollment, scope, and mission, transforming Southwestern into a strong comprehensive institution that serves both traditional-age students and adults. The college offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees and provides instruction in face-to-face, hybrid, and online formats that meet the needs of many kinds of students.
A native of Kansas, Merriman earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social science from Emporia State University and a Ph.D. in political science from Indiana University. Prior to his post at Southwestern, he was part of the advancement team at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, rising to the position of vice president for institutional advancement. He also taught courses in American politics at Berea College in Kentucky and served as executive director of the Jefferson Foundation and as a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities, both in Washington, DC.
Merriman has been a member of numerous professional and community organizations including the Presidential Advisory Committee of the Kansas Chapter of Women in Higher Education and the College Presidents Council of Visioneering Wichita. He has also served on the National Steering Committee of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment and as chair of the Executive Board of Kansas Campus Compact. Merriman’s writings have been published in scholarly journals as well as in professional publications including The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Merriman and his wife, Margot Kelman, who holds a Ph.D. in communication sciences and disorders (speech-language pathology), are the parents of two sons. Ben is completing his doctorate in sociology at the University of Chicago and is married to Sarah Wilson. Aaron is currently a student at Mount Union.