Troy D. VanAken, Ph.D. began his term as the 14th president of Elmhurst College on July 1, 2016. President VanAken has an extensive and varied background in higher education, including experience as a senior administrator, a mathematics professor, a business entrepreneur and an athletic director.
Before coming to Elmhurst, President VanAken served as president and professor of mathematics at Thiel College, an independent Lutheran liberal arts, sciences and professional studies institution in Greenville, Pennsylvania. Among his accomplishments at Thiel, President VanAken oversaw a major capital campaign that exceeded its $60 million goal 10 months early.
Previously, President VanAken served in a number of roles at Albion College, including executive vice president, vice president for finance and management, and athletic director. A native of Michigan, he began his career in higher education as an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Evansville.
In addition to his experience as athletic director at Albion, President VanAken has served as a high school football and track coach and has done committee work for the NCAA and collegiate athletic conferences. He also is active in economic and community development, and has started three successful technology-related companies.
President VanAken holds master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics from Bowling Green State University and a bachelor of science degree from Hillsdale College.
President VanAken and his wife, Annette, have two children.
Over the last few weeks, I have had meaningful conversations with various members of our campus community about the fractious political climate in our country and its impact on our College, both as an institution of higher learning and as a conscientious group of individuals who care deeply about the College and its place in the world. Some of the conversations have been difficult as there are those who would like the College to adopt a particular stance that is in line with their views, but I am heartened by the many people who hold dear the College’s commitment to diversity—not only in race, religion and sexual orientation, but also in thought. Our mission, vision and core values call for us to be intellectually engaged and socially responsible citizens who respect diversity and encourage open and honest dialogue. It is through this dialogue that we learn and develop our own sense of value.
Although the political climate has changed, and it may change again, the one thing that has not changed is the College’s mission, vision and core values. In fact, at our board meeting [on March 11], the trustees of Elmhurst College unanimously reaffirmed and pledged to live by our mission, vision and core values. These values will guide us as we begin our strategic planning process next year and continue to advance the mission of the College and have a positive impact on the world beyond. I am proud to lead a welcoming and inclusive campus that is passionately committed to this mission and the well-being of our students, faculty and staff.
I hope we will continue to talk with one another, and to listen.
– excerpt from message sent to the campus community on Saturday, March 11, 2017