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DiBiasio Leaving WC to Take Post at Ohio Northern

Trustees' Chair: 'College will continue moving forward with great momentum'

February 7, 2011

Dan DiBiasio chats with Trustee Stanley Caine at the January Board meeting. Caine will be a member of the search committee that selects DiBiasio's successor.

Dan DiBiasio chats with Trustee Stanley Caine at the January Board meeting. Caine will be a member of the search committee that selects DiBiasio's successor.

Wilmington College President Daniel A. DiBiasio will leave Wilmington College this summer after 16 years to serve as the next president of Ohio Northern University.

DiBiasio, 61, will succeed ONU’s 10th president, Kendall L. Baker, who is retiring this summer after serving as the university’s president since 1999.

Admitting the decision was made with “mixed emotions,” DiBiasio informed the campus community Monday (Feb. 7) morning:

“Chris and I are excited about this new opportunity, however, leaving all the members of the Wilmington College community will be very difficult. We have truly enjoyed this place we have called home for nearly 16 years and feel privileged to have raised our two sons here.

“They, as we, are so much the better for our time in this community and at this College.”

A national search for DiBiasio’s successor will commence as quickly as possible, according to Sidney Mishkin, chair of Wilmington College’s Board of Trustees, who said the College is poised to “continue moving forward with great momentum” during the upcoming interim period.

“I am convinced that the College is positioned to proceed into an era of continued progress and success,” he said.

Mishkin, a retired partner in the Indianapolis law firm Mishkin & Fall, also was quick to point out the Board’s great regard for DiBiasio and appreciation for all that has been accomplished during his presidency.

“I told Dan that I wish him a board of trustees at Ohio Northern that has as much affection and respect for him as our board does,” he said.

Board vice chair Stanley Caine, former president of Adrian College, echoed those sentiments.

“I know that the Board appreciates very much the excellent leadership which Dan has provided for Wilmington for the past 16 years,” Caine said. “Because, in part, of the fine work he has done, the College is well positioned to move forward confidently.”

Mishkin announced that James Reynolds, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, will become interim president following DiBiasio’s departure in mid-summer.

(LEFT) James Reynolds

“Jim possesses a comprehensive view of the College that complements his position in academic leadership, and he has worked closely with Dan on a number of campus-wide initiatives,” Mishkin said. “The Board has great confidence in his abilities.”

Reynolds cited DiBiasio as both a mentor and friend, and said he is “humbled and honored” to have been asked to serve as interim president.

“I very much appreciate the vote of confidence given to me by the Board of Trustees and intend to work very hard to keep their trust and confidence,” he said. “As we transition together as a College community, my focus will be to continue the work that we have begun to provide a high quality, affordable education to our students.

“I look forward to working with all of our faculty and staff to create our future together.”

Mishkin said the Board expects to select a nationally regarded search firm in the coming weeks to assist with finding DiBiasio’s successor. It already named three College trustees to serve on the search committee.

They include Caine, who, following his presidency at Adrian College, served as WC’s interim vice president for academic affairs prior to Reynolds’ appointment in 2007; J.R. Reid, Sodexo Corporation’s regional vice president for campus services; and G. David Hawley, minister at Indian Hill Episcopal Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati.

“I am certain that the search will attract strong candidates — I look forward very much to serving on the search committee,” Caine added.

The committee also will be comprised of appointees by the College faculty and the Wilmington Yearly Meeting.
Sandra Neville, a Quaker member of the Board and a local pediatric nurse practitioner, noted the president has “enjoyed a close and active relationship” with the Wilmington Yearly Meeting.

“Dan has supported the traditions of a liberal arts education while integrating and emphasizing the distinctive values of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers): simplicity, integrity, equality, community, peace and social justice,” Neville said.

(RIGHT) Art Brooks welcomes Dan and Chris DiBiasio to a Homecoming reunion of Concerned Black Students organization alumni.

David Raizk, mayor of Wilmington and a WC alumnus, chaired the search committee that selected DiBiasio in 1995. He praised the president for his leadership role in the community, as well as that with his alma mater.

“His presidency will go down as the most productive in the College’s history,” Raizk said, adding that DiBiasio has had a penchant for “raising the bar in pursuit of excellence” throughout all areas of the College.

“As a community leader, he has challenged us with that same pursuit of excellence,” he said, noting that “his leadership and counsel have been invaluable,” especially during these past few years of economic crisis in the community. “Both he and Chris have been active, involved and caring members of our community from day one.”

DiBiasio’s many community involvements have included Rotary Club, United Way, Chamber of Commerce and the Clinton County Port Authority Board of Directors.

Indeed, Chris Burns-DiBiasio’s extensive resume of community involvement features two terms on the Wilmington City Schools Board of Education and leadership roles on the Outstanding Women of Clinton County Awards Committee, the Center for Innovative Food Technology Advisory Board, Clinton County Fresh Network Executive Committee and the Clinton County Bicentennial Committee.

With his 16 years in office, DiBiasio will have served Wilmington College for more than twice the seven-year national average for a college presidency. He will depart this summer as WC’s second longest serving president.

Mishkin said his tenure “reflects a renaissance” at the College as significant advancements have been made across the campus. A sampling includes:

Under DiBiasio’s presidency, the College has enjoyed its largest enrollment and a markedly increased number of minority students. Its first-ever graduate program, a master’s in education, was added to the curriculum, as well as new undergraduate majors in sport management, equine science, environmental science and digital media, with one in sustainable agriculture likely to be implemented in the near future.

Also, WC developed a trio of degree completion programs with community colleges, as well as guaranteed admission programs with Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and Mount Carmel School of Nursing.

(LEFT) DiBiasio makes a point during the January Board meeting.

The College joined the Ohio Athletic Conference and added five intercollegiate athletic programs. It created the Center for Service and Civic Engagement and received an AmeriCorps*VISTA program that has received national acclaim via WC’s Grow Food, Grow Hope initiative.

The College’s endowment reached an all-time high during his presidency and WC successfully completed its largest comprehensive campaign ($17.3 million) while the annual fund surpassed $1 million for the first time ever.

New and renovated facilities include two student apartment complexes, the Equine Science Center, Mason Family Teleconference Center and the $6.5 million Boyd Cultural Arts Center, Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center and Harcum Art Gallery.

The College has had a balanced budget for the past 15 consecutive years.

DiBiasio also has held significant leadership positions with state and national higher education entities that include the NCAA Division III President’s Council, National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities, Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges and Association of Independent Colleges & Universities of Ohio.

“There is much I will miss about leading Wilmington College — our mission, our values and our distinctive educational environment,” DiBiasio said. “Of course, I will miss the dedicated and loyal Board members, faculty, administrators and support staff who work so effectively together to transform the lives of our students.

“They all mean very much to me and it has been a pleasure to serve with them.”

Ohio Northern University, located in Ada, Ohio, is a selective, private, comprehensive university comprising five colleges that include Arts & Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering, Pharmacy and Law. It has 3,570 students this academic year.

“Serving at Ohio Northern will enable me to draw upon both my previous university experience at Ohio State and the University of New Hampshire, as well as my more recent presidential experience at Wilmington College,” DiBiasio said.

He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and both a master of arts degree and Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

Prior to coming to WC in 1995, DiBiasio held positions as interim vice president for student affairs and executive assistant to the president at the University of New Hampshire. Also, he served as executive officer for New England Land-Grant Universities’ Council of Presidents, in addition to holding several administrative positions with The Graduate School at Ohio State and serving as director of student services at Rocky Mountain College.