New Wittenberg president starts job, prepares for first year

New Wittenberg University President Mike Frandsen. Jeff Guerini/Staff
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New Wittenberg University President Mike Frandsen. Jeff Guerini/Staff

The new Wittenberg University president took office last week.

Mike Frandsen was named the school’s 15th president in February and started the job on July 1. Frandsen served almost three years as the vice president for finance and administration at Oberlin College and before that was interim president at Albion College in Michigan.

Wittenberg is a major local employer with a total of more than 429 workers and has an estimated $70 million economic impact on the Springfield community. It has struggled in recent years as it made millions in cuts and is now on its third full-time president in less than a decade.

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Frandsen said one of his top priority’s is to bring stability to campus.

“I am here to stay,” Frandsen said. “I am coming into this job with my role models having served their institutions for 10, 12, 15 years. I would very much like to emulate the success they have had at their intuitions.

“I think that leadership stability is really important, I hope that I can provide that and I am here with the idea that I am going to provide that.”

Students at Wittenberg have told the Springfield News-Sun they are excited that the university has a new president. Jessica Stormoen, an English and history major from Michigan, said her advice to Frandsen would be to listen.

“Listen to your students and listen to what they want,” she said. “There have been a lot of changes and there have been a lot of push back, so just listening and understanding what the students needs are.”

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Frandsen said he’s been doing just that, and said the goal for the first week or so will be making his rounds and meeting as many people as he can.

“It’s great to finally be here and it’s great to finally get started. I’ve had a great chance to interact with some of the students, spend some time with the faculty, get to know some of the staff a little better,” he said. “Mostly it’s been a warm, friendly welcome, it’s humbling. I think everyone is eager for Wittenberg to move forward. I think people are glad someone is here who doesn’t wear that interim label.”

One of his main focuses will be growing enrollment, Frandsen said, and making sure students want to come to Wittenberg. He said the school is expecting about 600 new freshmen this fall, which is close to the record number of incoming freshman that started at the school in 2016.

“I want to make sure the student experience is terrific,” Frandsen said.

Stormoen said she thinks having a permanent president will be a nice change for the university.

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“There’s been a lot of transition,” she said. “A lot of staff in general have left and new staff has come in. The residence life staff has changed, and with this new president I am sure things are going to change.

“Getting stability and people staying longer is going to help,” she said. “I think that is what helped before is that a lot of people stayed on campus for a really long time.”


CONTINUING COVERAGE

The Springfield News-Sun broke that Mike Fransden is the new president at Wittenberg University and will continue to cover the college, a major employer with a large economic impact for the Springfield community.

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