Dr. W. Richard Merriman, Jr. serves as Mount Union’s 12th president, a position he began in July 2015.
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 College, 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.
In 1998, Merriman became president of Southwestern College, a private, United Methodist Church-affiliated institution of about 1,700 students. During his 17-year presidency, 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.
At Mount Union, Merriman led the development of a new strategic plan, titled Compass 2021: Mount Union’s Strategy to Lead, Collaborate, and Innovate. Key aspects of the plan have already unfolded with the addition of new academic majors in electrical, computer, and biomedical engineering, and in risk management and insurance. The University now offers a fully online master’s degree in education leadership, with additional graduate degrees planned. Student-focused renovations of academic and athletic facilities have begun.
Merriman has served on the National Steering Committee of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. He is currently chair of the Board of Ohio Campus Compact, a consortium of over 30 private and public colleges and universities that works to encourage community service and civic engagement by college students. 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 a professor at the University of Kansas and his wife, Sarah Wilson, is an administrator there. Aaron is currently a student at Mount Union.