OLIVIA FOSTER, YIGIT KACMAZ, ABBY DENAULT, KNIGHT WIRE GUEST REPORTERS
The 18th president of Wartburg College has been announced as Dr. Rebecca Neiduski – the first woman to hold the job.
Her appointment Monday follows current President Darrel Colson’s announcement that he will retire at the end of May Term.
Neiduski hopes that every woman at Wartburg feels empowered to see the first female president of the college.
“When I think about the opportunity to lead in a space with a new president who is a woman, I think about lifting up diverse identities for everyone on campus,” said Neiduski. “I hope that every woman on this campus feels empowered.”
Others on campus feel the significance.
“It is a little odd to think that in 2022 you would experience anything for the first time,” said Penni Pier, the director of the women’s studies program at Wartburg. “My reaction is both humbling and hopeful that I get to be at this institution at this time when there is a nexus of change happening.”
Having a female president for the first time at Wartburg is celebrated with positive reactions from the student body.
“Throughout the search we considered everyone regardless of gender and ethnicity and she just was the clearest fit for Wartburg’s 18th president,” Olivia Hobson, student body vice president, said. “That being said, as a female student leader, I am excited to see that in the highest role here at Wartburg.
Hobson was the student body representative on the presidential search committee alongside the faculty and the board of regents.
Other students echo Hobson’s excitement for more representation at Wartburg.
“I did not expect to feel so excited or almost emotional because it is representation, I could almost see myself in that kind of position,” third-year music education major Katelyn Kluver said. “I think it is important to show young women that they can be leaders too and there are successful women out there and not just old white men.”
Promoting diversity on campus and beyond is very important to Neiduski. To uplift minorities on campus, Neiduski recognizes her own privilege and commits to listening and validating other’s experiences.
“As president, my intentionality will be around being there and being with you,” said Neiduski. “Showing up, being present, listening, learning to be vulnerable, and thinking about our own privileges will help us grow together.”
Before assuming her current position as the dean of the School of Health Sciences at Elon University, Neiduski served as the department chair of occupational therapy at Concordia University.
Neiduski brings her past experience as an occupational therapist into everything else she does.
“As an occupational therapist, my job was to look at a person’s ability to move, walk, feed themselves, or other things and ask ourselves how we can make it better,” said Neiduski. “That mindset has been an incredible asset to me in other positions.”
Neiduski will take office on July 1.
“I’m most interested to see what our president’s first step will be. I want to see what our president has the power to influence and how might that compare to presidents in the past,” said third-year journalism and communication major James Mossman.