President Seeks to Fit Swing Dance Into Schedule
Michael and Sharon Frandsen are the newest sensations at Wittenberg University, and for a good reason. On July 1, Michael Frandsen became the 15th President of Wittenberg University, following in the footsteps of Richard Helton, who became Interim President after the abrupt resignation of Laurie Joyner in 2015.
Frandsen was unanimously chosen as the new President by the Wittenberg Board of Directors. Frandsen joins Wittenberg after a lengthy career in corporate finance, coaching and education. Following a short stint as the Interim President of Albion College and as the Vice President for Finance of Oberlin College, Mike (as he is affectionally called by his wife) and Sharon, are hoping to make Wittenberg and Springfield their permanent home.
During Frandsen’s Opening Convocation speech, which in his own words was “the most difficult thing” he has done so far, Mike put the first things first, but he wants students to know that things are getting real. During his tenure as president, Frandsen hopes to make Wittenberg more appealing academically and as a better place to work. He hopes that Wittenberg continues to improve and expand and he wants to be at the forefront of those efforts, with his wife volunteering at his side.
Mike spent the beginning of his first week in Cleveland and Columbus, meeting with former Wittenberg alum and leaders within the world of higher education. He was also busy searching for people to fill available administrative positions. Sharon has been working with Leadership Clark County, a non-profit group which helps people to develop leadership skills and connects them with volunteer opportunities in the Springfield and Clark County areas.
When asked where he sees himself in 10 years, Frandsen said that he would still be in Springfield.
“The average tenure of a college president is six to seven years, but those that Mike looks up to the most have served 14 to 15 years,” Sharon said.
In their free time, the Frandsen’s have visited all fifty states in the U.S. and Sharon likes to participate in triathlons.
Mike signed up for the Wittenberg Swing Dance Club and hopes to be able to find time in between “learning names and remembering people” to participate in WittInvest and Wittenberg Club Volleyball. Sharon is also participating in the Wittenberg Swing Dance Club but wants to participate in the Caving Club and Kayak Club as well.
Just like themselves, students can see Sharon traversing the C.D.R. grabbing her favorite food items, which she says are “the vegetarian options, dessert, and pizza. It’s all delicious really.” Mike differs and says the best things available are the “delicious homemade potato chips.”
And just like Wittenberg students, the Frandsen’s enjoy ice cream. Mike prefers chocolate almond and Sharon enjoys peanut butter swirl.
On most days, the best way to find Sharon is to find the family dogs, Libbie and Baxter. Both dogs are popular among current Wittenberg students, many of whom did not miss the opportunity to pet the pups as Sharon walked them down Alumni Way on Aug. 28.
“It’s important for me to walk the dogs and for students to see them,” Sharon said. “When I ask students what they miss most about home, most tend to say they miss their pets.”
Students will also be able to see Mike and Sharon at the places they find most beautiful on campus. For Mike, that is “the Hollow around Recitation Hall, Myers Hall and the Bayley Alumni House,” and for Sharon, it is “definitely the fountain.”
The Frandsen’s both say that they are glad that summer has come to an end and that classes are now back in session.
If students see Mike or Sharon out and about on campus, shake their hand, spend some time with them, pet the dogs and give them a reason to do something they find difficult: give them a reason to remember your face and your name.