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About

President's Cabinet

President

John Comerford, Ph.D., comes to Otterbein University with a record of commitment and advocacy for higher education and liberal arts colleges. He has served as president of Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois, since 2013, where he has been at the center of a number of innovative programs designed to enhance student access and learning. Comerford is committed to providing access to affordable higher education while delivering excellence in academic, student life, and career preparation programs. Under his leadership, Blackburn College became one of just a handful of colleges in the country to meet the full financial need of all its incoming students, with a focus on providing a series of work experiences that will help students impress prospective employers after graduation. Blackburn is one of just a few colleges in the state of Illinois to show enrollment growth over the past five years. In addition to growing the enrollment, Comerford has been committed to cultivating diversity on campus. Through building bridges and creating support programs, Blackburn increased the number of students of color on its campus from 12 percent to 24 percent in the past four years. Comerford understands the role of fundraising in providing access and affordability, and spearheaded the most successful campaign in Blackburn history, raising $26.3 million to renovate three buildings and double the size of the endowment. He previously served at Westminster College in Missouri from 2005 to 2013 as vice president for student life and vice president for institutional advancement. He also has held positions at Missouri Western State College and Ball State University. He has taught leadership, education, and law courses at several institutions. Comerford completed his doctorate degree in higher education administration with an emphasis in law at the University of Kansas. He also holds a master’s degree in college student personnel administration from the University of Central Missouri and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Western Illinois University. He has conducted research in areas from higher education law to college student culture. He has been an active leader in professional and community associations. He is an active Rotary member and serves on the boards of the United Child Advocacy Network, Abraham Lincoln Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Carlinville Public Schools Foundation, Associated Colleges of Illinois, Federated Colleges of Illinois, and Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities. Comerford’s wife, Rachel, also has a background in higher education, having served in several leadership roles in housing and residence life. The couple has three children, Garrett, 11, Reagan, 9, and Grant, 6. 

Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Wendy Sherman Heckler
wshermanheckler@otterbein.edu
(614).823.1556

Wendy R. Sherman Heckler began her career at Otterbein University as an associate professor of science education in 2007, and served as director of graduate programs in education from 2009 to 2012. She was associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of university programs from 2012 to 2017.

Sherman Heckler has taught courses in science teaching methods for pre-service and in-service teachers; master’s-level research methods; current issues in education; physical science; life science; integrative studies (energy and society); and women’s leadership. She has served as advisor, second reader, or graduate faculty representative on 59 master’s level projects at Otterbein, and remains an active faculty representative of the honors program on undergraduate student defenses. She has authored published pieces on Wittgensteinian perspectives on research related to student learning in science. Since 2010, Sherman Heckler has led an annual Improving Teacher Quality grant-funded physics professional development course for middle school science teachers, receiving over $850,000 from the Ohio Department of Higher Education and enrolling 225 teachers from 56 school districts around central Ohio (in 20 different counties).

Sherman Heckler’s service to Otterbein includes co-chairing the university-wide Accreditation Steering Committee from 2011-2015, which spearheaded our reaffirmation of accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. She has also co-chaired or chaired other groups including the Institutional Effectiveness Committee, working sub-groups of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and the General Education subcommittee of Curriculum Committee. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Communities in Schools of Central Ohio, a nonprofit focused on dropout prevention for K-12 students.

Sherman Heckler earned her bachelor’s and her master’s degrees, as well as her doctorate in teaching and learning, from The Ohio State University. Before coming to Otterbein, she taught at Kent State University. 

Vice President for Business Affairs

Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings
rvazquez-skillings@otterbein.edu

(614) 823-1150

Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings joined Otterbein on July 12, 2010. She came to Otterbein from Ohio University, where she served as the assistant vice president for budget planning and analysis since 2007.

Vazquez-Skillings has extensive experience in finance and administration in the education and state government sectors. In the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) for the State of Ohio, she has served as chief for special projects; chief of education; budget/management analyst for higher education; and budget/management analyst for school facilities and administrative services. Prior to joining the Office of Budget and Management, she worked in the Office of the Governor for the State of Ohio as assistant for criminal justice, public safety and regulation, and the Ohio Department of Human Services, Budget and Control as a fiscal specialist.

She is a member of the Education Advisory Board, National Association for College and University Business Officers and Central Association of College and University Business Officers, and is a past member of the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Vazquez-Skillings earned her bachelor's degree from Kenyon University in 1993 and her master's degree in public administration from The John Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University in 1996.

Vice President for Enrollment Management

Jefferson Blackburn-Smith
jblackburnsmith@otterbein.edu
(614) 823-1031

Jefferson Blackburn-Smith assumed his position as vice president of enrollment management on March 1, 2012. He came to Otterbein from The Ohio State University, where he was the senior associate director of undergraduate admission and first year experience for seven years.

Blackburn-Smith joined the Office of Undergraduate Admission and First Year Experience at OSU in 1995, serving as assistant director of telecounseling and associate director before becoming senior associate director in 2004. Between 2004 and 2011, Blackburn-Smith developed and implemented long-term and annual strategic undergraduate recruitment plans that achieved a 74 percent increase in applications, 32 percent increase in enrollment of students of color, 8.6 percent increase in non-resident enrollment, and 3.8 percent increase in international student enrollment. During this time under his leadership OSU also saw a 4.8 percent increase in first year student retention, as well an increase in the academic profile of incoming classes.

Blackburn-Smith was previously vice president of marketing for The Hayward Company and general sales manager for International Readers Service Bureau, Inc. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from OSU.

Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Michael R. McGreevey
mmcgreevey@otterbein.edu
(614) 823-1400

Michael McGreevey joined Otterbein as vice president for institutional advancement on Oct. 19, 2015. He came to Otterbein 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 the college’s comprehensive and project campaigns, with nearly $40 million raised during his tenure. He also oversaw a successful annual giving program, which raised $2.5 million in unrestricted and budget-applicable dollars per year. Prior to his position at Wells College, McGreevey worked at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, and London, England, from 1988-2008. His positions included: assistant director for student activities and orientation; special assistant for enrollment planning; director of the Ithaca College London Center; interim director of alumni relations; director of special programs for Advancement; and senior advisor/chief of staff to the president.

McGreevey also has worked in various positions at the University of Vermont in Burlington and Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He earned his bachelor’s degree in interpersonal and public communication from Bowling Green State University; master’s degree in education, higher education and student affairs administration from the University of Vermont; and master’s degree in organizational communication from Ithaca College. 

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Robert Gatti
rgatti@otterbein.edu

(614) 823-1250

Robert M. Gatti began his career at Otterbein University in 1978 as a residence hall director, progressively moving to various positions until 1992, when he was appointed Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs.  He oversees a variety of areas including: the Office of Residence Life, Student Conduct and Wellness, Center for Community Engagement, Center for Career and Professional Development, Chaplain, Counseling, Food Service, Diversity, University Health Services, Otterbein Police Department, and Athletics.

Gatti has been both president of the Ohio College Personnel Association (OCPA) and the Ohio Association of Student Personnel Administrators (OASPA).  He currently serves as a member of the International Association of College Law Enforcement Agencies (IACLEA) Accreditation Commission appointed by NASPA in 2005 and was chair of the NASPA Small College and University Institute.  He was a contributing author to two New Directions of Student Services series: Dealing with Behavioral and Psychological Problems of Students: A Contemporary Update (2009) and In Search of Safer Communities: Emerging Practices for Student Affairs in Addressing Campus Violence (2008).

Gatti is a past recipient of the OCPA Outstanding State Division Leader; the OCPA President’s Discretionary Award; and the Phillip A. Tripp Distinguished Service Award presented by OCPA.  He was the first recipient of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Distinguished Alumni Award and received an Honorary Alumnus Award from Otterbein College.

Executive Director of Information and Technology Services

Dave Bender
dbender@otterbein.edu
(614) 823-1876

Dave Bender became Executive Director of Information and Technology Services in 2013. He began his career at Otterbein in 2003 as a SQL Database Administrator and was promoted to Director of Advancement Technologies. Otterbein is his alma mater where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.

Prior to joining Otterbein, Bender worked for industrial diamond manufacturer GE Superabrasives.  While at GE, he was an Asset Manager for manufacturing plants in Worthington, Ohio and Dublin, Ireland. He also was an IT Project Leader, DBA, and Programmer Analyst.

Bender currently serves on the Board of Directors at Del-Co Water Company, a board member of CIO advisory committee for Board of Regents as a representative for Ohio’s 49 independent colleges and universities, a board member of Ohio Supercomputing Center and Ohio Academic Resources Network (OSC/OARNET) advisory committee and is the president of a community based trails group called Delaware County Friends of the Trail.

Vice President and Chief of Staff

Kristine King Robbins
krobbins@otterbein.edu
(614) 823-1232

Kristine King Robbins joined Otterbein University as the President’s Chief of Staff on October 3, 2011.  Prior to joining Otterbein, Ms. Robbins served as a senior consultant for the Leadership Development Group for ten years before joining the Human Capacity Development staff of Columbus State Community College in July of 2010.  She also served as Executive Director of Leadership Westerville on a part-time basis for thirteen years. 

With over twenty five years of experience working in senior level executive leadership positions, Robbins has worked in both public and private sectors including having served as Deputy Director of Human Resources and Administration for the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office and Vice President for Human Resources and Administration for Permedion.  Her experience covers a variety of industries including education, state government, manufacturing, health care, community mental health, and information services with a focus on human resource management, policy development, administration, strategic planning, leadership, and management development.

Robbins was elected to the Westerville City Schools Board of Education for two terms from 2006 through 2013.  While on the Board, she served in leadership roles as Vice President and President.  Kristi is active in the Westerville community having served as a board member for the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce, Westerville Education Foundation, Concord Counseling Services, Westerville City Schools Parent Council, and Uptown Review Board for the City of Westerville.  She is currently a member of the Westerville Parks Foundation Board. 

Robbins received her bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University in International Studies with minors in Spanish and International Business.  In 1998, Ms. Robbins achieved certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) through the Human Resources Certificate Institute.  

/ Fast Facts

Location / Westerville, OH
President / Dr. John Comerford
Mascot / Cardy the Cardinal
Colors / Tan and Cardinal
Founded / 1847
Students / approx. 2,900
Students to faculty / 12:1
Majors / 74
Minors / 44
Graduate Programs / 8 - learn more