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CHAMBERSBURG — Wilson College on Monday announced the appointment of Fr. A. Richard Kneedler as interim president.

Dr. A. Richard Kneedler
Dr. A. Richard Kneedler

Kneedler was president of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., from 1988 to 2002. He served as interim president of Rockford (Ill.) College (now Rockford University) in 2006-07. He has also worked as an educational consultant.

Kneedler was named by Wilson’s Board of Trustees to temporarily oversee operations while the College conducts a comprehensive search for a permanent replacement for Barbara K. Mistick.

Mistick is leaving to take a new position as president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). She joined Wilson as its 19th president in July 2011.

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“The Board of Trustees is pleased to welcome Dr. Kneedler to campus. His familiarity with Wilson, as well as his experience leading Franklin & Marshall, make him an ideal candidate for this interim role,” said Dr. Barbara L. Tenney, chair of the Wilson College Board of Trustees and a member of the Class of 1967. “The Trustees have every confidence Dr. Kneedler will do an excellent job keeping the College on course and strategically focused.” 

Initiating a Search for an Interim President

The College worked with the Registry for College and University Presidents to bring three candidates for the interim presidency to campus in late June for interviews. An ad hoc committee of the Board of Trustees recommended Kneedler for the position, which he will assume full time on Aug. 1.

Representatives from faculty, staff and the senior administrative team also participated in the interview process.

Kneedler says he has followed Wilson’s recent progress under Mistick─whose leadership has doubled the College’s enrollment, added programs, expanded coeducation, improved facilities and lowered tuition. His plan is to help the College continue its impressive forward momentum, especially now, during the celebration of its 150th anniversary.

“Wilson College is bucking the trend in higher education with increased enrollment when many of its peer institutions are seeing their numbers shrink,” said Kneedler. “This success is due to the strong leadership of the Trustees, President Mistick and the tremendous support of faculty and staff. I am excited to join the College, even for a short while, and to be a part of championing Wilson toward its next 150 years.”

Dr. Kneedler’s Background

Kneedler, who was given the honor of president emeritus status by F&M on his departure from the liberal arts college in 2002, began his career there in 1968. He served on the faculty of F&M’s French Department before adding an assistant to the college dean to his responsibilities.

Kneedler also held the titles of vice president for administration and vice president for development, among others, before being appointed the president of the institution in 1988.

As president, Kneedler is credited with positioning F&M as a national college by implementing successful strategies for academics, fundraising, campus development, finances and management. During his tenure, F&M completed two fundraising campaigns that raised $200 million as the school’s endowment tripled to more than $300 million.

After F&M, Kneedler served as Rockford’s interim president from May 2006 to November 2007. While there, he reversed budget deficits, reduced debt, restored credit and increased the visibility of the institution.

He has also performed consulting services for the Council of Independent Colleges and several private consulting firms in higher education, most recently with Ann Duffield & Colleagues, a Philadelphia consulting company where he was the operating officer and a consultant on strategic planning, finance and operations from 2011 to 2016.

Kneedler has a doctorate and a master’s degree, both in French language and literature from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, he holds a certificate from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business Administration’s Institute for Educational Management. His bachelor’s degree is from F&M.

Kneedler and his wife Suzette (Gallagher) ─ a 1967 Wilson graduate ─ live in Naples, Fla., and also have an apartment in Lancaster.

Searching for Wilson’s 20th President

While Kneedler serves as interim president, Wilson is proceeding with a search for the 20th president of the College.

The College has formed a presidential search committee including seven Trustees, with additional representation from faculty, staff and the student body. The committee is working with Academic Search Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based firm hired to conduct a national search for the next president of Wilson College.

There is no deadline in the search for Mistick’s replacement, but officials hope the new president will be appointed sometime before the end of the 2019-20 academic year.

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