W. Richard Merriman Inaugurated as 12th President of Mount Union
May 07, 2016
ALLIANCE, Ohio – Dr. W. Richard Merriman Jr. was inaugurated as the 12th president of Mount Union during a ceremony held Friday morning in the University’s Peterson Fieldhouse.
During his inaugural address, Merriman discussed Mount Union’s history of success, the challenges facing the institution and his ideas for the University’s future path. One example of historical innovation, he said, took place during the presidency of Tamerlane Pliny Marsh, who led the school from 1888 to 1898. During that time, Mount Union awarded 11 master’s degrees and 16 doctoral degrees to students. Graduate degrees offered by Mount Union in the 1890s had no student residency requirements and students mailed completed assignments in.
“Mount saw a need and met it,” Merriman said. “Because Mount Union has not made confining choices in the past, it is a strong, vital and relevant institution today.”
Mount Union has historically been characterized by a spirit of “and,” not “or,” Merriman noted.
“Mount Union has excelled, in every era, by avoiding constraining choices. It has, in every era, been active in sensing the needs of the time and responding to meet those needs. Our DNA of ‘and’ has informed our simple but powerful mission of helping people – common people, working people, people who needed an opportunity,” Merriman said.
Merriman said the University’s enrollment of undergraduate and graduate students has remained strong and the addition of a new doctoral program in physical therapy, along with accreditation of engineering programs, will stimulate further growth. Other strengths of the University, according to Merriman, are the growth of the number of faculty and academic programs, talented students and athletes, strong past presidential leadership, loyalty of alumni and the vision of the Board of Trustees.
“Mount Union is in a position of strength today, which allows us to look ahead with optimism,” Merriman said.
Merriman said challenges facing Mount Union include college affordability, the question of value, ongoing discussion on which audiences the University wishes to serve and the changing learning styles of students due to advanced technology.
“So, we face big challenges,” Merriman said. “But Mount Union is well positioned, and well prepared, by virtue of our DNA, which embraces venturesomeness in facing challenges; inventiveness in meeting society’s needs and an instinct for inclusion that extends our reach and our impact.”
During the ceremony, administration of the Oath of Office and Investiture of the Seal of Office was given by Allen Green ’77 and former Mount Union presidents Dr. Harold M. Kolenbrander, Dr. John L. Ewing, Jr. and Dr. Richard F. Giese. The Mount Union Concert Choir and brass quartet performed during the ceremony and representatives of the campus and Alliance communities offered greetings.
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 coming to Mount Union, he served for 17 years as president of Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, guiding the college through a period of significant growth in scope and enrollment. Merriman has worked as vice president of institutional advancement at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, taught American politics at Berea College in Kentucky, was executive director of the Jefferson Foundation in Washington, D.C. and was a program officer for the National Endowment of Humanities in Washington, D.C.
Merriman and his wife Margot Kelman, who holds a Ph.D. in communication sciences and disorders and has previously worked in private practice as a speech-language pathologist, began their time at Mount Union on July 1, 2015.