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Wabash's Gregory Hess Named NCAC President

Wabash's Dr. Gregory Hess (L) & Kenyon's Dr. Sean Decatur (R)
Wabash's Dr. Gregory Hess (L) & Kenyon's Dr. Sean Decatur (R)

Story contributions courtesy of Wabash College, Kenyon College and Ohio Wesleyan University

Wabash College President Dr. Gregory Hess has been named president of the North Coast Athletic Conference and Kenyon President Dr. Sean Decatur, has been selected to serve as the vice president for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years, it was announced by NCAC Executive Director Keri Alexander Luchowski.

Hess, who served as the NCAC's vice president since July 1, 2018, succeeds Ohio Wesleyan President Dr. Rock Jones, as the president of the NCAC. Jones, who served as president since July 1, 2017, will step into the Immediate Past President role on the Conference Executive Committee for the next two years.

Hess, the 16th president of Wabash College, is in his sixth year after his election on July 1, 2013. He has thoughtfully articulated the value of a liberal arts education for men, while leading the College through strategic planning processes that will shape the course of the institution through its 200th anniversary in 2032.

Hess has launched four co-curricular “WabashX" initiatives in Democracy and Public Discourse, Digital Arts and Human Values, Global Health, and the Center for Innovation, Business, and Entrepreneurship. He has also partnered with Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton on executing several “Stellar Communities” projects, including the innovative Fusion54 co-working space in the heart of downtown.

In 2018, Hess began an effort to rebrand the College — the first inclusive strategic marketing work ever undertaken by Wabash. And he is led Wabash through a significant master planning process, which examined all aspects of campus and academic life, as well as infrastructure, to guide the College's management of its physical campus through 2032.

Hess serves on the board of directors of the Independent Colleges of Indiana, Great Lakes Colleges Association, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Club of Indiana, and the NCAA Division III President's Advisory Group. Prior to his tenure at Wabash, he was Dean of the Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Claremont McKenna College at Claremont, California.

In addition to his role as Dean of the Faculty at Claremont McKenna, he was the James G. Boswell Professor of Economics and a George R. Roberts Fellow. In that role, he oversaw all aspects pertaining to academic affairs, including the curriculum, the Center for Global Education, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurism, athletics, institutional research, student learning outcome assessments, and information technology.

Hess has also held teaching positions at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Kansas, St. John’s College (Cambridge), the University of Cambridge, London Business School, and Oberlin College.

Outside the academy, Hess has previously worked as an economist for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve; as a consultant for Honda Motors of North America; and as a member of the Ohio Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors. He has served as a Visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Banks of San Francisco, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Kansas City, the Bank of Japan, Korea University, the IMF Institute, and the Hoover Institution. He has been a member of the Shadow Open Market Committee since 2002.

Hess is a widely published author with more than 60 books and articles to his credit, and has served as an editor for Economics and Politics and Macroeconomic Dynamics. He has been invited to make more than 90 scholarly presentations and seminars around the world. His academic specialties include monetary policy, macroeconomics, and the economics of national security.

Decatur became the 19th president of Kenyon College on July 1, 2013. He arrived at Kenyon after serving since July 2008 as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College. He was also a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Oberlin.

He earned a bachelor's degree at Swarthmore College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1990. Decatur earned a doctorate in biophysical chemistry at Stanford University in 1995; his dissertation was titled "Novel Approaches to Probing Structure-Function Relationships in Myoglobin."

Decatur joined the faculty at Mount Holyoke College in 1995 as an assistant professor of chemistry. As an associate professor of chemistry, he served as department chair from 2001-04. In 2005, he was appointed the Marilyn Dawson Sarles Professor of Life Sciences. He was also an associate dean of faculty for science from 2005-08. On the faculty at Mount Holyoke, Decatur helped establish a top research program in biophysical chemistry. He also developed unique courses, including a race-and-science lecture series; a course exploring ethical, social, and political questions related to scientific topics; and a team-taught course that integrates introductory biology and chemistry. Decatur was a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004-05.

During his time as dean and under his leadership at Oberlin, Decatur helped lead a review of major curricular requirements with a number of significant changes under way that bring more focus to the academic program. He also helped strengthen the Oberlin faculty and planned a new system for post-tenure faculty review and pushed for a deep curricular connection between Oberlin College and the Allen Memorial Art Museum. Oberlin also established the Center for Languages and International Cultures while Decatur was dean.

Decatur has won research grants from the federal National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health and from private foundations including the Alzheimer's Association, Dreyfus Foundation, and Research Corporation for Science Advancement. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and has received a number of national awards for his scholarship, including a National Science Foundation CAREER award in 1999 and a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award in 2003. He was named an Emerging Scholar of 2007 by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine.

He has contributed to the New York Times Room for Debate commentary forum. Decatur also wrote an essay called "When the Number 9 Bus Was Like Home, and Downtown Was My Playground," which was included in the 2012 book "Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology."

Jones was inaugurated as Ohio Wesleyan’s 16th president in October 2008, and his energetic leadership has been helping to move the University forward ever since with innovative academic programs, new and rejuvenated campus facilities, and a strong sense of engagement with alumni and the community.

Jones holds a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas-Austin, a Master of Divinity magna cum laude from the Duke University Divinity School, and a Bachelor of Arts with honors from Hendrix College. Prior to joining Ohio Wesleyan, he worked for Hendrix, serving in roles that included Executive Vice President and Dean of Advancement, Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, interim Vice President for Student Affairs, and Chaplain.

Locally, he serves on the boards of the Strand Theatre and the Delaware County Foundation, where he chairs the Investment Committee.

Jones also is president of the University Senate of the United Methodist Church, and a member of both the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes Colleges Association and the Board of Directors of Wesley Theological Seminary.

In recognition of his work to advance the quality of student life at Ohio Wesleyan, Jones received the 2014 “Outstanding Performance as a College or University President Award” from Region IV-East of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Founded in 1983, the North Coast Athletic Conference consists of 10 academically selective colleges and universities - Allegheny College, Denison University, DePauw University, Hiram College, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University, Wabash College, Wittenberg University and the College of Wooster along with affiliate member Earlham College (field hockey). The NCAC sponsors 23 championship sports, 11 for men and 12 for women.