University Leadership & Board of Trustees

Officers of the University 2024 – 25
Chair of the Board William E. Harrell, Jr. ’94
Vice Chair Theresa Harris
Secretary Mechelle Buys du Plessis P’20, MBA ’22
President of the University John Comerford, Ph.D.
Interim CFO/Vice President for Business Affairs Allan Gozum
Executive Committee 2024 – 25
Chair of the Board William E. Harrell, Jr. ’94
Vice Chair Theresa Harris
Secretary Mechelle Buys du Plessis P’20, MBA ’22
President of the University John Comerford, Ph.D.
Audit & Risk Management Committee K. Christopher Kaiser `77
Enrollment & Advancement Committee Lisa Hinson
Financial Resources Committee Peter Bible ’80
Governance Committee David Fisher ’75
Student Success Committee Melinda Phinney ’85

University President

John Comerford President

John Comerford

President


Dr. John Comerford joined ǿմý University as the president in 2018 with a record of commitment and advocacy for higher education and liberal arts colleges.

Believing that higher education is the “great equalizer,” he has focused on access and affordability. He helped established a scholarship that covers full tuition for Ohio students from families of financial need. The Dual Admission Program, a partnership with Columbus State Community College, provides one of the most affordable degree programs in the state of Ohio. Now enrolling the most diverse classes in University history, ǿմý’s first-year class has grown from 12% to 27% students of color.

Read More >

President's Cabinet 2024-25

Erin Bender

Erin Bender

Executive Director of The Point


Erin Bender is founding Executive Director of The Point at ǿմý University - a new collaboration, education and innovation center made possible by public officials at all levels of government, local business and community leaders, public schools, and creative faculty and students at ǿմý. It's offers student-centered collaboration and cross-disciplinary, high-impact learning that bridges learning with doing, students with professionals, in one shared space at 60 Collegeview Road, west of ǿմý's main campus. It is a conduit between abstract learning and concrete practice,…

Read More >

Jefferson Blackburn Smith

Jefferson Blackburn-Smith

Executive Vice President for Strategic Initiatives


Jefferson has provided leadership for the division of enrollment management at ǿմý University since 2012. Prior to joining the ǿմý community, Jefferson served for 17 years at The Ohio State University in a variety of recruitment and strategic planning roles, overseeing an outreach and recruitment effort that saw significant increases in diversity, non-resident enrollment and a growth in the average ACT of the entering class from 21 to 28. At ǿմý University, Jefferson has focused on expanding access and affordability…

Read More >

Frank E  Dobson Jr

Frank E. Dobson, Jr.

Chief Diversity Officer


Frank E. Dobson, Jr., Ph.D. has served as an instructor and administrator at a number of institutions, including Bowling Green State, Vanderbilt, and Wright State.  Frank has directed Black cultural centers at two institutions, and led numerous diversity and equity efforts, including the Posse program at Vanderbilt and the Freshman Prep Program at Lafayette College.  Frank is involved in community service and activism, including serving as the board chair for the Launch Mentorship program in Nashville, TN. He is also…

Read More >

William (Bill) Fox

William Fox, Ed.D.

Vice President for Student Affairs


Bill has led the division of student affairs at ǿմý University since January 2023. Bill has worked in higher education for over 20 years, including a decade as dean of students at Denison University in Granville, OH. Prior to joining the ǿմý community, he led the student affairs division at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH.  At ǿմý University, Bill is responsible for partnering with faculty to create holistic student learning and support, facilitating a community that welcomes and supports a highly diverse student population, and fostering a culture of innovation…

Read More >

Allan Gozum

Dr. Allan Gozum

Interim CFO and Vice President


Dr. Allan Gozum is serving as the Interim CFO and Vice President for Business Affairs. He also serves at Antioch University as the Vice Chancellor/CFO and Treasurer of the corporation. At ǿմý, he will oversee budget and planning, information technology, food services, risk management, facilities planning, and human resources. Prior to Antioch, Gozum was employed at Benedictine University based in Lisle, Illinois for 15 years and served as vice president of finance and chief financial officer. Earlier in his career,…

Read More >

Wendy Sherman Heckler

Wendy Sherman Heckler

Provost & Senior Vice President


Wendy R. Sherman Heckler began her career at ǿմý University as an Associate Professor of Science Education in 2007, and served as Director of Graduate Programs in Education from 2009 to 2012, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of University Programs from 2012 to 2017, and Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs from 2017-2019, before being selected to stay on as Provost and Senior Vice President. As the chief academic officer of the university and SVP,…

Read More >

Michael Mcgreevey

Michael McGreevey

Vice President for Institutional Advancement


Michael McGreevey joined ǿմý as vice president for institutional advancement on Oct. 19, 2015. He came to ǿմý from Wells College in Aurora, NY, where he served as vice president for advancement since 2008. McGreevey brings with him more than 25 years of experience in higher education administration within advancement, alumni relations, international education, enrollment and student affairs. As vice president for advancement at Wells College, McGreevey developed a full service advancement program and led the planning and implementation of…

Read More >

Board of Trustees 2024-25

Peter Bible, ’80

Trustee


Peter Bible is EisnerAmper LLP’s Chief Risk Officer and is responsible for risk management, SEC services, strategic thought leadership, regulatory relations and inspection groups. He works closely with the Professional Practice Group to assure compliance with the Audit and Assurance Practice’s quality control policies. Peter also consults with clients on difficult and complex accounting and financial reporting issues. As a leader in the Public Companies Group, Peter also aids the firm’s efforts in meeting the business and regulatory needs of…

Read More >

John Comerford

President


Dr. John Comerford joined ǿմý University as the president in 2018 with a record of commitment and advocacy for higher education and liberal arts colleges.

Believing that higher education is the “great equalizer,” he has focused on access and affordability. He helped established a scholarship that covers full tuition for Ohio students from families of financial need. The Dual Admission Program, a partnership with Columbus State Community College, provides one of the most affordable degree programs in the state of Ohio. Now enrolling the most diverse classes in University history, ǿմý’s first-year class has grown from 12% to 27% students of color.

Read More >

Talisa Dixon

Trustee


Dr. Talisa Dixon started her 28-year career in public education in Akron Public Schools, where she served as a social studies teacher, then assistant principal. Dr. Dixon spent nine years as an administrator in Columbus City Schools from 2001-2010. She served three years as an assistant principal at Brookhaven High School, then six years combined as the principal at Brookhaven and at Columbus Alternative High School. Dr. Dixon served as the deputy superintendent for the Saginaw Public School District in…

Read More >

John Edgar

Trustee


Rev. John Edgar served as the executive Director of Community Development for All People (CD4AP) from its inception in 2003 until he retired in June 2022. CD4AP is a multifaceted community development corporation with the mission of improving the quality of life with persons living on the Southside of Columbus, Ohio.  The Free Store, a flagship ministry of CD4AP, provides free clothing and household items to 20,000 persons each year. Over the past 17 years, CD4AP has developed $125 million…

Read More >

David W. Fisher, ’75

Trustee


David W. Fisher is vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of Wesley Family Services (formerly the United Methodist Children’s Home) in Worthington, Ohio, and a member of the law firm, Kephart Fisher, LLC, based in Columbus. A native of Clarksburg, West Virginia, Fisher graduated from ǿմý in 1975 with a degree in philosophy and theology. After college, he did graduate work at Candler School of Theology at Emory University before attending law school at Northern Kentucky University. Since earning…

Read More >

James L. Francis, ’71

Trustee


Jim Francis earned his bachelor's degree in education from ǿմý and his master's degree in counseling from Cleveland State University. He is a retired human resources executive with over 20 years of service as vice president of human resources at BFGoodrich Specialty Chemicals and the Swagelok Company. He is currently the president of J&L Fran Enterprises, a leadership consulting business. Jim has been a member of the board of trustees for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank for over twenty years.…

Read More >

Daniel Gifford, ’88 P’21, P’23

Trustee


Daniel C. Gifford, CPA (Inactive) graduated from ǿմý University in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Dan started his career at KPMG where he worked for over ten years and has held various accounting related roles in industry since leaving public accounting. Currently, he is the chief financial officer of Bold Penguin where he serves on the senior leadership team and is responsible for accounting, finance and M&A due diligence. Gifford has served on the ǿմý University Alumni Council…

Read More >

Julianna Grubich, ’26

Student Trustee


Julianna Grubich is a Gahanna Ohio native and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Allied Health and completing her Athletic Training Master's degree the following year. She also has a minor in Nutrition. At ǿմý, she is a member of the Women’s basketball team. She also serves as secretary on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. One of the group's goals is to make every athlete feel as though they belong at ǿմý. Julianna is excited to pursue opportunities to extend…

Read More >

Jon Hargis, ’79

Trustee


Jon Hargis has over 40 years of experience on the Telecommunications/Cable Industry. Jon began his career with AT&T in Dayton Ohio upon his graduation from ǿմý in 1979. In 2000 Jon joined Cablevision as the Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing. In 2012 Jon moved to Charter Communications and became the Chief Marketing Officer responsible for all Sales and Marketing. Jon retired from Charter in 2022. Jon currently lives in Long Island, New York where he is active in…

Read More >

William E. Harrell, Jr. ‘94

Chair of the Board of Trustees


William “Eddie” Harrell Jr. earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from ǿմý University in 1994 and his master’s degree in business administration from Ashland University. He is the Regional Vice President of all Radio One Markets in Ohio, inclusive of Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus. Prior to becoming Regional Vice President, Mr. Harrell served as Vice President and General Manager of the Cleveland market from 2014 to 2015 after leading the Columbus market from 2011 to 2013. Mr. Harrell was…

Read More >

Theresa Harris

Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees


Theresa Harris, President and Founder of TMH Solutions, has more than 30 years of progressively responsible experience in Management and Information Technology. TMH Solutions, LLC is a certified women and minority owned and managed company working to collaborate with her customers and strategic partners to deliver high quality, cost effective solutions. Prior to establishing TMH Solutions, Theresa was Application Sales Manager for Public Sector for Oracle in the States of Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. During her years in the IT…

Read More >

Sonya Higginbotham, ’98

Alumni Trustee


Sonya Higginbotham leads as senior vice president and chief of corporate affairs, communications and sustainability of Worthington Enterprises. She is responsible for the Company’s internal and external communications, brand strategy, government relations and sustainability efforts, as well as philanthropic activities as president of The Worthington Companies Foundation. Higginbotham joined Worthington Industries in 1997 in the corporate training and development department. In 1999, she was named community relations coordinator where she helped form the Company’s first corporate communications department. In the following years, she…

Read More >

Lisa Hinson, P’17

Trustee


Lisa Hinson is president and founder of Hinson Ltd Public Relations, a boutique agency that advises clients on media and community relations, marketing and event management. Before founding her company in 1999, Hinson began her career at L Brands and was with the business for over a decade. Lisa serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations including The James Cancer Hospital Foundation Board and The Ohio State University Foundation Board. She is a former board chair of Experience Columbus,…

Read More >

Michael Hudoba

Associate Professor & Department Chair, Faculty Trustee


Michael Hudoba, Ph. D., moved from Canfield, Ohio in 2005 to begin his undergraduate career in Mechanical Engineering at The Ohio State University. He graduated magna cum laude and began working towards his master’s degree in 2009 with a focus of user-centered product design. In 2011, he was asked to be Carlos Castro’s first graduate student in the Nanoengineering and Biodesign Lab at OSU where his researched focused on the development, characterization and implementation of DNA based nanomachines to measure…

Read More >

Gregory S. Jordan

Trustee


Greg began his career at Nationwide in 2001 and has served in several Business and Finance leadership roles. Greg is currently, Senior Vice President & Chief Audit Executive, and is responsible for overseeing the Nationwide’s Office of Internal Audit activities. In this role, Greg is responsible for reviewing and communicating the results of internal audit work and serves as a business partner and strategic advisor on various business cabinets. Greg previously held the positions of Vice President and Chief Financial…

Read More >

K. Christopher Kaiser, ‘77

Trustee


Chris Kaiser earned his bachelor’s degree in 1977 from ǿմý University in business administration with a concentration in accounting. He became a Certified Public Accountant in 1979 and worked for Deloitte, an international auditing and consulting firm for 15 years. Kaiser, who retired in 2016, was the Chief Operating Officer for OSU Surgery, LLC, a multi-specialty surgical practice that provides business and management services to more than 100 doctors affiliated with The Ohio State University. He joined this organization in…

Read More >

Susan Millsap

Professor & Faculty Trustee


Dr. Susan Millsap has been teaching and coaching forensics for forty years, thirty-five of those years at ǿմý.  She is a professor of Communication teaching; Public Speaking, Argumentation and Advocacy, and Interpreting Communication Research.  Over the years, her Speech and Debate Teams have won numerous state and national awards.  She has served on the national council of the National Forensic Association. She has served on the national council for Pi Kappa Delta and is currently serving as its National Historian.…

Read More >

Nevalyn Fritsche Nevil, ’71

Trustee


Nevalyn Fritsche Nevil originally began her college career at Florida State University in 1966. She finished her freshman year, but then transferred to ǿմý in her hometown of Westerville. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology and went on to earn her master’s degree in counseling psychology at The Ohio State University in 1978. She began her career at The Ohio State University Nisonger Center, where she helped develop several books focused on helping people with psychological disorders.…

Read More >

Melinda Phinney, `85

Trustee


Melinda (Mindy) Phinney earned her Bachelor of Science degree at ǿմý in 1985. She then furthered her education at Medical College of Ohio at Toledo where she received an MD degree. She completed medical training in Internal Medicine at Summa Health System in Akron, Ohio, where she also served as Chief Resident of Internal medicine. She obtained specialty training in Nephrology at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. Melinda has published articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and has written two book…

Read More >

Mechelle Buys du Plessis

Secretary of the Board of Trustees


Mechelle Buys du Plessis is a 29-year veteran and student of the Information Technology industry.   She has worked and lived in South Africa, Malaysia, The United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Mechelle’s global career offered her various specialties that included various Go to Market roles, Head of Marketing for the Africa & Middle East territory, leading architects & consultants, and managing the Middle East territory overall, which included the Kingdom of Saudi, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and…

Read More >

James D. Shilling, `77

Trustee


James D. Shilling is the George L. Ruff Endowed Chair in the Real Estate Center at DePaul University. A prolific scholar, Shilling has produced more than 80 journal articles, studies, books and book chapters. His work has examined real estate investment trusts and the role of real estate​ in institutional investors' portfolios; mortgage securitization; commercial mortgage default, real estate asset pricing, housing finance and urban economics. Shilling holds a bachelor's degree from ǿմý College and earned master's and doctoral degrees in…

Read More >

Brant O. Smith, ’95

Trustee


Brant Smith is President and General Manager of Waltek & Co., Ltd in Cincinnati, Ohio with another office in Nashville, Tennessee. Waltek & Co. specializes in custom curtainwall applications for high rise commercial projects, structural glass, glass flooring, cable wall systems, glass/steel canopies, and all types of ornamental metal work/glass handrails. The company, started by Brant’s father, has a reputation for exceptionally prompt delivery on quality wall systems, custom ornamental metals, distinctive glass and aluminum handrails, and individually designed and…

Read More >

Alan Varrasso, MBA ’11

Trustee


Alan Varrasso completed his bachelor’s degree at Marietta College in 1996, and established his career with Verizon. During his nearly 20 years with Verizon, Alan completed his MBA at ǿմý. He joined JPMorgan Chase in 2012 as the Chief Technology Officer, led technology delivery to more than 5,000 branches and 16,000 ATMs. Through that role, he also provided support for 2.5 million small business customers and Chase’s auto loans and leases portfolio. In 2022 Alan joined Wells Fargo as their…

Read More >

Karin Yaffe Stump

Trustee


Karin Yaffe Stump earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from ǿմý and her master's of science degree in social psychology from North Carolina State University.  For the past 30 years, she has been the president of Yaffe and Stump Consulting and works with attorneys as a witness coach for their clients. Karin served on the board of Columbus Humane and was a past president of Twig 2 of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  She currently is a member of the board of Hound…

Read More >

Mahad Yusuf, ‘26

Student Trustee


Mahad Yusuf is a native of Westerville, Ohio and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics. Mahad has taken on both collaborative and organizational efforts while being a senator serving on student governance and various committees with both peers and faculty. He serves to contribute to the progress of multiple initiatives and organizations. Mahad was selected to serve as the student trustee for a two-year term.

Read More >