University of Mount Union Welcomes President Richard Merriman to Campus

July 01, 2015

Merriman and KelmanALLIANCE, Ohio – The University of Mount Union entered a new era of leadership this week as Dr. W. Richard Merriman, Jr. officially commenced his role as the institution’s 12th president. Merriman, who most recently served as the president of Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, was appointed to the position at the conclusion of a six-month nationwide search and upon unanimous decision of the Board of Trustees.

 “The commitment and great spirit of the Mount Union community were very evident to my wife, Margot, and me during our visit,” said Merriman. “When a job interview is fun and energizing, that signals that you're at an exceptional place, and we really felt that at Mount Union. The innovative curriculum that balances a strong foundation in the liberal arts with career-focused instruction, the quality and appearance of Mount Union's facilities and grounds, its growing enrollment, the quality of its faculty and staff, and the enthusiasm and affection for the University expressed by its students all signify that Mount Union has had extraordinary leadership from President Giese and the Board of Trustees. 

“There is no way to learn about a university except to dive in, begin meeting its people, and learn about both its strengths and the challenges it faces,” Merriman continued. “I'm looking forward to those opportunities for discussion, learning and engagement with the University’s trustees, faculty, administrators, staff and students. It's also clear that the University has a great partnership with the community of Alliance, and I'm looking forward to maintaining those strong, cooperative ties.”

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.  

In addition, Merriman led two capital campaigns and several project-specific fund drives that raised more than $50 million for college projects. This led to a number of campus improvements including a new stadium, performing arts center, and residence hall as well as renovations to the library, among other improvements. In addition, Merriman worked to foster cooperative relationships between the college and the Winfield community.

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 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 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 in addition to serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Cowley County Economic Development Association.  He has also volunteered his time in the community, delivering lunches for Winfield Friendship meals for a number of years.

Merriman’s scholarly work has been published in highly-regarded journals as well as in professional publications including The Chronicle of Higher Education. He has also been invited to be a conference speaker on a variety of topics related to higher education.

Merriman and his wife, Margot Kelman, who holds a Ph.D. in communication sciences and disorders and has been in private practice as a speech-language pathologist, are the parents of two sons. Ben is married to Sarah Wilson and is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. Aaron will be a freshman at Mount Union this fall.

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