University Leadership & Board of Trustees

Officers of the University
Chair of the Board Mark R. Thresher ’78
Vice Chair William E. Harrell, Jr. ’94
Vice Chair Cheryl L. Herbert
Secretary Christopher Kaiser
Assistant Secretary Alan Waterhouse ’82
President of the University John Comerford, Ph.D.
CFO/Vice President for Business Affairs Susan Bolt
Executive Committee
Chair of the Board Mark R. Thresher ’78
Vice Chair William E. Harrell, Jr. ’94
Vice Chair Cheryl L. Herbert
Secretary Christopher Kaiser ’77
Assistant Secretary Alan Waterhouse ’82
President of the University John Comerford, Ph.D.

University President

Comerford

John Comerford

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…

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President's Cabinet

Erin Bender

Erin Bender

Executive Director of The Point


Erin Bender is founding Executive Director of The Point at Otterbein 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 Otterbein. 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 Otterbein's main campus. It is a conduit between abstract learning and concrete practice,…

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Jefferson Blackburn Smith

Jefferson Blackburn-Smith

Vice President of Enrollment Management


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…

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Susan Bolt

Susan Bolt

CFO and Vice President for Business Affairs


Susan most recently served as Vice President for Finance and Administration at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana from 2013 – 2018.  She is a senior-level executive with extensive finance, administration, and investment management experience as well as a strong background in higher education business services.  Susan comes to Otterbein with a B.A. in Business Administration as an accounting major from Michigan State University and an MBA from the University of Hartford with a concentration in finance.

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Wendy Sherman Heckler

Wendy Sherman Heckler

Provost & Senior Vice President


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…

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Mike McGreevy

Michael McGreevey

Vice President for Institutional Advancement


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…

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Kristine Robbins

Kristine Robbins

Vice President & Chief of Staff


Kristine King Robbins joined Otterbein University as the first Chief of Staff in the President’s Office on October 3, 2011. Prior to joining Otterbein, Robbins was a Senior Consultant for the Leadership Development Group based in Columbus, Ohio, from 2000 - 2010.  In addition to her consulting work, she served as Executive Director for Leadership Westerville on a part-time basis from 2001 - 2014. Throughout her career, Robbins has served in both public and private sectors including having been appointed…

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Dawn Stewart

Dawn Stewart

Director of Athletics & Interim Vice President for Student Affairs


Dawn Stewart enters her eighth year at her alma mater after being hired as the Director of Athletics in April of 2012, when Otterbein conducted a national search that netted over 100 applicants vying for the position. She has served in that role ever since and, most recently, was promoted to Interim Vice President for Student Affairs for the 2019-20 school year. Stewart, coming to Otterbein after spending four years as Director of Athletics at nearby Capital University, holds 20-plus…

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Board of Trustees

Peter Bible ’80


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…

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Larry Brown ‘80


Larry Brown is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church and a full member of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church since 1988. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Brown graduated from Otterbein University in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in music education. At Otterbein, he was a member of the University’s Concert Choir, Opus Zero choral ensemble and marching band and performed in several musical theatre productions. Brown graduated from Methodist Theological School in Ohio in…

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John Comerford

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…

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Deborah E. Currin ’67


Deborah Ewell Currin earned her bachelor's degree in education from Otterbein with a major in elementary education and a minor in art. She has owned and operated Future Antiques, Inc. since 1985. Currin is an artist whose works have been published in Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping magazines. She has also done design work for American Greetings Corporation. Currin was named Volunteer of the Year in 1995 by former Ohio Governor George Voinovich. She serves as a Board…

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Jocelyn Curry ’78


Jocelyn is the Vice President of Claims Services at Nationwide. She provides the overall leadership and strategic direction for claims support functions for Nationwide’s Property and Casualty companies and is an executive member of the company’s services organization. Specifically, she oversees claims call centers, back-office processing and a unique translation operation handling customer service in Spanish, Chinese dialects, Korean and Mandarin. The operations are located in Columbus, Des Moines, San Antonio and Gainesville. Jocelyn began her insurance career with Allstate…

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Joan M. Esson

Professor & Department Chair


Joan joined the Otterbein faculty in 2007 as a specialist in Analytical Chemistry. She teaches courses in General Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Instrumental Analysis, Advanced Laboratory, Senior Year Experience and Integrative Studies (including a faculty-led study abroad course). Joan also oversees the Cardinal Science Scholars Program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. Joan is a graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College where she received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, which was followed by graduate studies at The University of Michigan.…

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David W. Fisher ’75


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 Otterbein 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…

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James L. Francis ’71


Jim Francis earned his bachelor's degree in education from Otterbein 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.…

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Daniel Gifford ’88


Daniel C. Gifford, CPA (Inactive) graduated from Otterbein 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 DASCO Home Medical Equipment where he serves on the senior leadership team and is responsible for accounting, finance, M&A due diligence, human resources, information technology and facilities. Gifford has…

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William E. Harrell, Jr. ‘94


William "Eddie" Harrell Jr. earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Otterbein University in 1994 and his master’s degree in business administration from Ashland University. He has been president and CEO of the Columbus Urban League since April 2006. Prior to joining the Columbus Urban League, Harrell served as the executive director of I KNOW I CAN and Project GRAD Columbus. Prior to joining I KNOW I CAN, he served on the organization’s Board of Directors. He also held…

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Cheryl L. Herbert


Cheryl Herbert has over 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Her career began at St. Ann’s Hospital in Westerville. In 1990, she joined the staff at MedCenter Hospital in Marion, Ohio, as director of continued care services. By 1997, she was named president of the hospital. Herbert joined the OhioHealth system in 1998 as vice president of Marion General Hospital. In 2000, she became president of Morrow County Hospital and in 2004, she was hired to oversee the…

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K. Christopher Kaiser ‘77


Chris Kaiser earned his bachelor’s degree in 1977 from Otterbein 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 is now 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 1992. He previously…

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Mary Navarro


Mary Navarro recently retired from a 42 year career in banking. The past 15 years she was a Senior Executive Vice President at Huntington Bank, leading their Consumer and Business Banking Division; 8500 colleagues and 65% of the bank's profits. She is a nationally recognized industry leader; known for developing a differentiated strategy and brand, achieving the highest customer growth rates in the country, and earning numerous customer service awards for 5 consecutive years (2012-2017). In 2017, Mary was awarded…

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Nevalyn Fritsche Nevil ’71


Nevalyn Fritsche Nevil originally began her college career at Florida State University in 1966. She finished her freshman year, but then transferred to Otterbein 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.…

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Rebecca C. Princehorn ‘78


Rebecca Princehorn graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Otterbein University in 1978 with honors. She also holds a juris doctorate and a master’s of public administration from University of Kansas. She is a partner of the public finance group and chair of the public sector group at Bricker & Eckler, LLP. She was listed in the Best Lawyers in America (Education Law) 2010-2011. She is a member of the Ohio Council of School Board Attorneys, the Worthington…

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Joan Rocks

Professor, Department Chair, Athletic Training Program Director


Although Joan has over 32 years of athletic training experience, her entire career has been focused on teaching and striving to be an effective educator. Her “biography” is therefore based on her teaching journey. It is Joan's educational belief that any instructor must establish the building blocks that create a strong foundation in the student’s learning processes. The basic building blocks that are taught at a young age include, trust, loyalty, friendship, and the ability to focus on future goals,…

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Brant O. Smith ’95


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…

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Mark Thresher ‘78


Mark Thresher is executive vice president, chief financial officer of Nationwide. In addition to finance, Mark leads Nationwide’s corporate strategy, Nationwide’s investment operations and Nationwide Realty Investments, and is the chair of the Nationwide Bank board of directors. Previously, for five years, he served as president and chief operating officer of Nationwide Financial. Prior to that, Mark was senior vice president and chief financial officer of Nationwide Financial. He joined Nationwide as vice president and treasurer in 1996. Prior to…

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Alan Waterhouse ‘82


Alan Waterhouse served as the first president and CEO of Asteres, Inc., a start-up firm in San Diego which commercialized a system to store and deliver finished prescriptions to consumers in a retail pharmacy. Prior to joining Asteres, Inc., Waterhouse was president of Cardinal Health’s Packaging Services division. He came to that position from Pyxis Corporation where he was executive vice president of manufacturing/operations. Before joining Pyxis, Waterhouse held several senior management positions in manufacturing and operations with General Motors…

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