By: Cole Hatcher
Ohio Wesleyan University President Rock Jones announced Monday that he will retire after the 2022-2023 academic year.
When Jones, Ph.D., steps down as Ohio Wesleyan’s 16th president, he will have served 15 years in the office and overseen transformational change at the university, including the creation of the OWU Connection signature student experience, the renewal of the residential campus, and the two most successful fundraising campaigns in OWU history, including the record-setting Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign that concluded in 2021.
In sharing his news with the campus community, Jones said he looks forward to a productive final year with a continued focus on improving the Ohio Wesleyan experience for students.
Echoing comments from his 2008 inauguration, Jones said: “I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to stand as a steward, entrusted for a time, with responsibility for this treasure. And I am grateful to be able to continue this work, with every ounce of energy I can provide, for another year.
“Spending time with our students and working to help them succeed is the most joyful and rewarding part of my role,” continued Jones, known simply as “Rock” to most students and families. “I am inspired every day by their passion and commitment to creating a better world.”
John F. Milligan, chair of Ohio Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, noted that Jones’s inaugural address also referenced that those working to build and better the university today “stand on the shoulders of giants” who came before.
“Rock certainly has earned a place among the giants of Ohio Wesleyan who have devoted themselves to providing a premier educational experience for students,” said Milligan, Ph.D., the retired president and CEO of Foster City, California-based Gilead Sciences Inc.
“Rock’s visionary leadership and focused follow-through place Ohio Wesleyan in a strong position for future success as we begin the search for the university’s 17th president,” said Milligan, a 1983 OWU graduate.
That search will begin right away, he said, and will be spearheaded by Board of Trustees member Kara Trott, J.D., founder and board chair of Columbus, Ohio-based Quantum Health.
Trott said she is beginning now to identify a search committee and map out the national search process.
“Our hope is to find our new president with ample time to allow Rock to work with his successor to support a smooth transition and uninterrupted forward trajectory,” said Trott, a 1983 OWU alumna. “We are searching from such a position of strength that we expect to have a very strong pool of candidates.”
In sharing his retirement announcement with the OWU community, Jones called his tenure at Ohio Wesleyan “the opportunity of a lifetime.”
“Your support has been unwavering, your friendship has been enduring, and your passion has inspired me, every single day,” he told those listening to his message. “I would not have traded this opportunity for anything in the world.”
Before he passes the baton, however, Jones noted that he expects to have a busy and productive final year. “It is important for me to be clear that this is not a farewell speech,” he said. “I have another full lap to run.”