Wittenberg president: School must accept change, seek progress

Wittenberg University President Michael Frandsen speaks at the school’s convocation. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF
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Wittenberg University President Michael Frandsen speaks at the school’s convocation. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

The new president of Wittenberg University spoke to faculty and students and welcomed them back to campus during convocation Tuesday.

Mike Frandsen, who started as the liberal arts college’s 15th president on July 1, said he still believes liberal arts is important to higher education.

“I believe what we do in liberal arts education is useful, but we must take the questions of our usefulness seriously,” Frandsen said during the school’s convocation. “I think the institutions that will succeed in the future are those that are intentional about integrating all aspects of the enterprise into the education for its students.”

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Wittenberg, a major employer in Springfield that has a $70 million impact on the local economy, has introduced in recent years more math- and computer-based degrees on its campus. Frandsen said he believes science- and math-based degrees fit well when combined with a liberal arts education. He previously said courses like those that go with the new data science degree at the college can help the university produce well-rounded students.

“We continue to move forward with new programs,” he said during the convocation.

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The school welcomed more than 580 freshmen last week and now has about 1,800 students on campus. Officials have said they hope to get enrollment up to 2,000 soon.

Wittenberg must embrace change, Frandsen said, if it wants to continue to move forward.

“We must continue to evolve in what we teach and how we teach it,” he said.

Many Wittenberg students attended the convocation. Quang Nguyen, who is an international student from Vietnam, said he was impressed with the new president.

“It was a wonderful speech,” Nguyen said. “He told us about his background and where he grew up and how he became successful.”

He said he has enjoyed his time in Springfield so far.

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“The community, I like it,” he said. “I visited the city on a tour and I was impressed.”

Freshman Macy Pannell, from Columbus, said she is also liked Frandsen.

“It seems like he has the schools best interest at heart,” she said. “He seemed to communicate and connect with us.”

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