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Published: Wednesday, 7/10/2002

New college leader named in Defiance


DEFIANCE - The vice president of a West Virginia college has been selected as Defiance College's new president, the school said yesterday.

Dr. Gerald Wood, 50, who was introduced yesterday to faculty members and students at this private, liberal arts college of 1,000 students, will take over Aug. 1.

A Methodist minister, Mr. Wood said he was drawn to Defiance College because of its nationally recognized service program, which encourages students to get involved in the community.

Defiance College is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

In January, the college received a $6 million donation from two alumni that will allow students and faculty members to examine global issues and how they affect humanity. The program, called the McMaster School for Advanced Humanity, will begin in the fall.

“I'm very excited about it, and quite frankly, that's one of the reasons I was attracted to Defiance College,” Mr. Wood said.

Mr. Wood is the vice-president for college advancement for Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, W.Va. While there, he helped to lead a $15.5 million capital campaign for the college.

Previously, he was vice-president for student services at Waynesburg College and dean of the chapel and assistant dean of student development at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Mr. Wood also was a minister at three different churches in West Virginia, and he has continued to maintain his credentials with the United Methodist Church.

The new president has a history in service areas, from the ministry to overseeing college service leadership programs to being awarded a fellowship from the Bonner Foundation, which targets areas of hunger and education.

Mr. Wood replaces Dr. James Harris, who announced in January he had accepted the president's job at Widener University in suburban Philadelphia. He began his new job July 1.

Before Dr. Harris left, board chairman Thomas Callan said college officials would be looking for a replacement “with an upbeat personality” similar to Dr. Harris'.

Following a four-month national search, Mr. Wood was selected for the post over Dr. Anne Cairns Federlein, who is president of the Ohio State University at Newark and the Central Ohio Technical College.

Over the years, Mr. Wood has done consultation work on college campuses to bolster church-college relations.

The new president said he doesn't plan to make any changes at Defiance College right after he arrives on campus, except for hiring a new vice president for student services, a post that's been vacant for 1 1/2 months.

“I think it's critically important for me to first listen to the people in the community so I can recognize and understand what's here,” he said. “I won't be making any quick moves until doing that.”

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