Monmouth College’s 13th president, Dr. Mauri A. Ditzler, brings a wealth of administrative experience along with a close association with the liberal arts. Ditzler was a celebrated chemistry teacher at Holy Cross and graduated from Wabash College in 1975.
Ditzler grew up in central Indiana and was among the first of his immediate family to earn a college degree. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Wabash, Ditzler embarked upon an educational journey that led to a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Duke University in 1979. Ditzler kept a close association with his longtime sweetheart, Judi, and they married in 1974. A few years later the couple celebrated the birth of their first daughter, followed by a son and another daughter. Meggan, the oldest, is currently living on a maple syrup farm in Vermont, raising three children. Mark has a post-doctoral appointment at the University of Missouri, while Lorin is currently studying Urban Planning at the University of Iowa with a concentration in small, Midwestern towns.
After distinguishing himself at Duke, Ditzler served in various capacities as a faculty member at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass, where he worked to establish a nationally recognized model for chemistry curriculum as the chair of the chemistry department. That model, known as the Discovery Program, allows students to generate data that is then pooled and analyzed to discover the fundamental aspects of the discipline. He was also instrumental in obtaining funding for two major laboratory modernization projects. In 1994, Ditzler was awarded the Manufacturing Chemists Association Catalyst Award for creating curricular and pedagogical impact on chemistry education in the United States.
Ditzler was appointed dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Millikin University in 1994. Instrumental in helping the university revamp its general education curriculum, he worked closely with the institutional development staff to design and organize fundraising for a new science building. As dean, he led an effort to strengthen the college’s academic core by building faculty morale and increasing the amount of instruction by full-time faculty. He also worked closely with admissions to dramatically increase the number of student applications to the college.
In 1999, Ditzler returned to his alma mater, Wabash College, as dean of the faculty and chief academic officer. At Wabash, he spearheaded an aggressive campaign to modernize the academic facilities through the design and construction of a new science building, the renovation of another science building, and the construction of both a new home for the college’s Malcolm X Institute, and a new research/conference center.
It was also at Wabash where Ditzler worked on a team to establish the National Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts. The center collaborates with other institutions to gather and use evidence to strengthen the case for continuing liberal arts education. Member institutions include liberal arts colleges, regional universities, research universities and community colleges from all over the country. The center studies such issues as student retention and the predictive function SAT/ACT scores might have on classroom performance in college. They publish comparative studies and papers on the study habits and successes of men and women.
Since his inauguration as president of Monmouth College in 2005, Ditzler has been engaged in a renewed focus on improving Monmouth’s reputation for academic excellence. Ditzler recently announced the creation of the Midwest Studies initiative, which will focus scholarly attention on the history, character and future of the Midwest region. Monmouth scholars will seek to understand the unique challenges and opportunities facing the region in this age of globalization. Ditzler also directed the construction of two modern residence halls, along with an extensive renovation of the college’s football and outdoor track facilities, which were formally dedicated in 2009 as April Zorn Memorial Stadium. He is currently working on the strategy to raise funds for a new academic complex that would house both the science and business departments.
Ditzler owns a fruit farm in west central Indiana, where he and his wife enjoy brief getaways from Monmouth. For 35 consecutive summers, Ditzler and a group of longtime associates supervised a corn detasseling enterprise that hired crews of students to detassel corn throughout the Midwest. He enjoyed this annual activity until he assumed the Monmouth presidency.