Retired President Mauri Ditzler to Serve as Albion College’s 2024 Commencement Speaker

April 15, 2024

Mauri Ditzler, who served as president of Albion College from 2014 to 2020, will return to campus this spring to serve as Commencement speaker. Ditzler will address the Class of 2024 on Saturday, May 4, at 1 p.m. from the steps of Kresge Gymnasium on the Campus Quadrangle.

In addition to the former president, David Reimann, professor of mathematics and computer science, will provide the faculty farewell, Stephanie Ledezma Gonzalez ’24 will offer a greeting in Spanish, and four other seniors have been selected to provide remarks during the ceremony: Sheridan Leinbach ’24, Lansing, MI; Rodney Mitchell ’24, Saginaw, MI; Aminaa Injinash ’24, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; and Lauren “Lolo” Reed ’24, Saginaw, MI. These seniors exemplify academic and co-curricular excellence and are among the many leaders on campus.

“It is a great honor to welcome former President Ditzler back to Albion for this capstone moment,” said current Albion College President Wayne Webster. “Mauri has been a mentor, leader, and advocate for liberal arts in the Midwest for decades and his impact at Albion, Monmouth, and Wabash colleges speaks volumes about his work and the impact it has made on those campuses and communities. I look forward to his comments and message to our graduating seniors.”

Ditzler’s career in higher education spanned more than 40 years, including two college presidencies, 11 years as an academic administrator, and 15 years as an esteemed and national-award-winning chemistry professor.

His return to Albion’s campus during Spring Commencement is bittersweet as the COVID-19 pandemic kept him from presiding over his final Commencement in May 2020 as president. As part of his farewell, Albion faculty, staff, and students coordinated a socially distanced parade in his honor in summer 2020 that included handmade signs displaying the community’s deep affection for its outgoing leader. The College also renamed its main boulevard from Hannah Street to Ditzler Way.

“I look forward to returning to the College and campus that I loved so well. Speaking from the steps of Kresge gym will bring back ever so many fond memories. The thought of looking out at the faces of good friends and respected colleagues brings joy to my heart and a smile to my face,” said Ditzler. “Congratulating the class of 2024 will be especially meaningful. Many of the graduates are from the last cohort that I helped recruit to Albion. We didn’t get a chance to chat in passing on campus or share a meal at the President’s House. I didn’t watch them on stage, cheer for them on the athletic field or marvel at their academic presentations, but I will be a part of the celebration of their graduation. What a special privilege.”

A passionate advocate for the liberal arts, Ditzler created new opportunities for Albion students, significantly increased diversity of the student body, and worked to foster deeper connections between the campus and local community. Some of the highlights of his tenure at Albion include raising $100 million for new programs and scholarships, expanding the academic curriculum to include classes in business and pre-medicine, finalizing a gift to establish the Cutler Center for Student Success, securing TRIO grant funding, and creating a partnership with the city of Albion to invest in critical downtown redevelopment. The partnership with the city brought a new hotel in downtown Albion, as well as additional restaurants and shops. Ditzler also moved the president’s residence to Albion’s campus from outside the city limits.

Ditzler joined Albion after serving as president of Monmouth College in Illinois from 2005 to 2014, where he led initiatives to innovate the curriculum, improve enrollment trends, increase diversity, strengthen the college’s relationship with its home community of Monmouth, and orchestrate a $75 million fundraising campaign—the largest capital campaign in the college’s history. He guided fundraising efforts for the construction of a $40-million center for integrated programs in science, agriculture, and business; two residence halls and athletic facility improvements were also completed during his presidency.

Before Monmouth, Ditzler enjoyed six years as dean at Wabash College in Indiana, his undergraduate alma mater. At Wabash, he was a champion of immersion learning and undergraduate research, developing and helping to raise more than $20 million in initial funding for a national Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts and playing a key role in the design and construction of many academic facilities. At Wabash and elsewhere, he hired and/or mentored faculty and staff who are now serving as presidents, provosts, and deans.

From 1994 to 1999, Ditzler served as dean of arts and sciences at Millikin University in Illinois. He advanced significant curricular reforms, promoted undergraduate research, and helped envision and secure funding for a new science building.

Preceding his move into administration was a 15-year tenure as a chemistry professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. At Holy Cross, Ditzler was widely published—often with students as co-authors—and attracted a series of major grants that allowed him to assemble and lead a team that developed Discover Chemistry (an early example of Project Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning), which became widely adopted and earned him a national teaching award.

An Indiana native, Ditzler graduated summa cum laude from Wabash College, majoring in chemistry and speech. In 2019, he received an honorary degree from Wabash. He earned a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Duke University and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the science honorary Sigma Xi.

He and his wife, Judith Ditzler, have three grown children, Meggan, Mark, and Lorin. Together, the Ditzlers own a fruit farm in west central Indiana.