June 13, 2024

Wittenberg University’s new Provost Michelle Mattson gave her “The Roads Home” speech at the opening convocation on Tuesday morning.  

Mattson began her role as new Provost in early July of this year, she spoke in front of students, faculty, staff and the Wittenberg community about her “roads to Wittenberg.”   

Mattson’s life has been filled with fascinating and hilarious stories. One of those stories began with “my road to Wittenberg began in South Korea…my father was a physician whose primary goals in life were to serve others and to serve God,” Mattson said.

She and her family later moved to the state of Minnesota when she was five years old, along with Mattson’s little brother who her parents adopted from Korea. During her last year of high school, Mattson studied abroad in Germany. As a result, this opened her to a wonderful career where she eventually met her husband.

During his life Mattson’s brother had run ins with racism while the family lived in Minnesota. During her speech, Mattson mentioned that she never thought of her little brother as adopted, but simply as her little brother. While living in Minnesota her little brother shared his experience about what is was like living in the town, they resided in. While there, people thought he was a “disappointment to my father,” Mattson commented. 

When her high school days were over, Mattson went on to attend college at the University of Minnesota. While on campus she met many people with different and diverse backgrounds.

“While there [University of Minnesota], I met people whose parents have been abusive…and who have grown up in poverty,” Mattson stated.

In addition to being the Provost, Mattson is also serving as a Professor of German here at Wittenberg.  

“Wittenberg feels like an active and supportive learning community,” Mattson said.

Students also greatly appreciated Mattson’s speech. Logan Heagerty (’23) said that Mattson “delivered a really good speech, [I] thought it was very inclusive.”

“It was cool, she talked about diversity, that was pretty interesting…she seems like she is more than just a Provost,” Jhiara Henderson (’21) commented.

“I like the message, [she] gave some good real life examples,” Maria Eha (’23) said.

“She wants to encourage and teach people be advocates for people who are different from you,” Jayson Aguilar (’23) said.

“I like her personal anecdotes, I felt like they connected well and made the message … more effective,” Charlotte Sarchet (’23) said.

So what is next for the new Provost? Possibly directing those students lost to other schools, back to Wittenberg, is where her unique experience and special planning might also be utilized.

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