The Joanne Van Sant Society at Otterbein

Dr. Joanne Van Sant, better known as “Dean Van,” served Otterbein for more than 50 years. Through her leadership and mentorship, she had a positive impact on countless students, graduates, faculty and staff, and community leaders. In that spirit of unwavering commitment, Otterbein proudly established the Joanne Van Sant Leadership Giving Society in the 2011-2012 academic year. This annual giving society recognizes donors who give cumulatively $1,000 or more in a fiscal year (July 1st to June 30th), to any fund at Otterbein.

Dean Van’s Impact at Otterbein

In 1948, Dean Van came to Otterbein as an instructor in the Women’s Health and Physical Education Department, an official for intramural sports, and the coach of all women’s sports. She could not be confined to just one area, however, as she was named:

  • Dean of Women in 1952
  • Dean of Students in 1964
  • Vice President of Student Affairs in 1968
  • Special Consultant for the Office of Institutional Advancement from 1992 to 2012

Dean Van’s impact led many in the campus community to be in awe of her compassion and grace, as well as admire her intense passion for others and for the school. The below have been established in Dean Van’s honor and continue to thrive on campus:

  • The Dr. Joanne Van Sant Office of Student Affairs Initiative: supports student affairs programming and maintains collaborative office environments.
  • The Van Sant Leadership Program: provides opportunities for students to develop leadership skills through workshops, retreats, and service through which students earn The Van Sant Leadership Certificate. Click here to read Dean Van’s Leader’s Creed.
  • Van Sant Fellows Grant: awarded to first-year students who have demonstrated a commitment to leadership and academic scholarship during high school.

Membership to the Society

Since the institution was founded in 1847, donors and volunteers have helped accomplish incredible things. To recognize the philanthropic spirit of annual leadership donors, the Joanne Van Sant Society was established. Members receive insider knowledge, invitations, recognition, and communication from the university. Here are a few examples of what you will receive during the academic year:

  • Communication from the President of Otterbein
  • Biannual Otterbein Connections giving newsletter
  • Opportunity to participate and lead the JVS Fundraising Council
  • Annual Holiday Party invitation
  • Invitations to special university events
  • Public recognition for your generous giving

Want to make a greater impact?

Donors who generously give at the $5,000 level, to any fund in a fiscal year, are recognized as members of the President’s Society. To learn more, visit

For general questions about The Joanne Van Sant Society, please contact 614-823-2707 or

Every gift impacts Otterbein’s ability to model values that serve the common good and to foster a place to belong and thrive for students, faculty, and the community. Thank you.

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