Ohio Northern University has been largely influenced by its leaders as it develops into a university that allows students of all career goals, backgrounds, and experiences to flourish. Serving as the university’s 11th president, Dan Dibiasio began his time at Ohio Northern on August 1, 2011.
According to an email sent to all students, faculty, and staff on February 13, 2021, President Dibiasio announced that he will be retiring effective on June 30, 2022.
Serving as the president of a university takes time, commitment, and willingness to make difficult decisions both for and at the expense of your students, faculty, and staff. Ohio Northern University recognized that as they searched for who would lead as the school’s 11th president when former President Kendall Baker finished his contract.
Ultimately, ONU’s board chose DiBiasio to head the school. Prior to his start at Ohio Northern, DiBiasio served as the president of Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio from 1995 to 2011. DiBiasio also served as admissions counselor and dean of students at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana before moving on to earn his Ph.D. at The Ohio State University and become assistant dean of OSU’s graduate school. DiBiasio then served for New England Land Grant Universities, executive assistant and interim vice president at the University of New Hampshire, as well as teaching at undergraduate and graduate levels, publishing, and presenting at various conferences. DiBiasio has also served on national, state, and local boards including Liberty National Bank Board and Ohio Campus Compact Board, currently serving as Board Chair of Educational and Institutional Insurance Administrators.
When President DiBiasio retires, he will hold the title of longest-serving university president among independent college and university presidents in Ohio with his total tenure reaching 27 years as a president and 45 years in higher education.
Dr. John Navin, Dean of ONU’s College of Business Administration said his favorite thing about working with DiBiasio is his “ability to interact with our students. He has this warm and welcoming personality that clearly resonates with students and puts them at ease.”
Following suit, DiBiasio has shown immense dedication to his students. Not only do he and his wife, Chris, give out care kits with snacks during finals week every year, he also makes a strong effort to support his students by showing up to campus presentations, talks, and events. Along with this, he also gives time to faculty and staff by showing up when they receive tenure or supporting them in individual endeavors such as publishing and presenting. Dr. Steve Martin, Dean of ONU’s College of Pharmacy said, “He has been a great mentor for me… watching him address challenging situations as well as times of triumph and pageantry… I’ll miss seeing him and Chris at campus events and activities, walking the dogs on campus, and being available to students…”
Dr. John-David Yoder, Dean of ONU’s College of Engineering said, “[DiBiasio] was very supportive of the work we were doing with KEEN (Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network,” while Dr. Holly Baumgartner, Dean of ONU’s College of Arts and Sciences said, “He is willing to listen and asks input from his academic deans… The Getty College of Arts and Sciences is complex and diverse, so some moves don’t apply easily to us. President Dan takes that into account and allows us space to try other solutions.”
While the University is sad to part ways with President Dan, it is so easy to reflect on the things he has done for us and see all of the good he will leave with Ohio Northern University. Most recently of which, DiBiasio addressed, “As we rose successfully to meet the challenges of COVID-19 last semester, we will rise again to meet its continuing challenges. We will draw on our creativity, our resilience, and our commitment to one another to get through this trying time.”
DiBiasio is leaving ONU with a legacy of improvements behind him including amazing faculty, great opportunities for community service and engagement, expansive athletics, various renovations and buildings for improved learning, increasing sustainable energy projects, and an emphasis on increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion effort on campus.
As Dr. Charles Rose, Dean of ONU’s College of Law said best, “I will miss his positive ‘we’ve got this’ attitude and willingness to do what needs to be done with his unfailing instinct to do what is right.”
If you haven’t yet, be sure to reflect on how President Dan’s retirement affects you and what you’re grateful for here at ONU.