Board of Trustees Appoints Marsteller Interim President of Ursinus College
She becomes the college’s 18th president and the first woman to lead the 152-year-old institution.
Marsteller’s tenure will begin on September 1, 2021. Brock Blomberg, who has led the college since 2015, announced in June that he is stepping down.
“Ursinus is a highly esteemed institution of higher learning that has a historic legacy of approaching the liberal arts in a distinctive and meaningful way,” said Marsteller. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to guide a wonderful community of learners during this transition period.”
Ursinus Board Chair Rob Wonderling P’16 reported the news in a campus announcement, drawing attention to Marsteller’s lifelong commitments to education and service as hallmarks of her distinguished career. Marsteller earned her bachelor’s degree from Ursinus, graduating cum laude with honors in English in 1978, and her master’s degree from Villanova University. She began her professional career at Ursinus in 1984 as an adjunct lecturer before pursuing a different path in philanthropy and external relations. She served in several transformative leadership roles at Lehigh University, Haverford College, Cedar Crest College, and Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia before ultimately returning to her alma mater.
An interim president search task force, chaired by Trustee Cathy Geczik ’84, led the process over the past month. “Jill embodies a deep commitment to the mission, values, and inclusive nature of Ursinus College,” Geczik said. “And she has the unique perspective and experience of being a student, faculty and staff member, senior administrator, and parent. From those different lenses she will be able to authentically reflect the values of the college today and strongly advocate for its future.”
President Brock Blomberg, who leaves his role on August 31, shares similar sentiments. “Jill reflects the very best of Ursinus. For the past few years, she’s been a colleague and a friend, someone whose enthusiasm for our students is contagious,” Blomberg said. “She’s been such a positive influence wherever she’s been, but nowhere as much as her alma mater. Ursinus will thrive under her leadership.”
An announcement about the next presidential search will be made in early August.
Board of Trustees Chair Rob Wonderling’s message to the Ursinus community:
Dear Ursinus Family,
On behalf of the board of trustees, it is my absolute pleasure to announce the appointment of Jill Leauber Marsteller ’78, P’18, senior vice president for advancement, as Ursinus College’s interim president effective September 1. A proud alumna whose service to the college spans more than 20 years, Jill has long been an outspoken advocate for the liberal arts. Her integrity and experience are highly regarded within higher education and, to a much broader extent, among the nonprofit community across Philadelphia, where she has dedicated so much energy throughout her career.
During a moment of transition such as this one, it is the board’s responsibility to position the college, and its people, for success, creating an environment where Ursinus’s positive trajectory can continue unhindered. As the first woman to lead the college—and Ursinus’s 18th president overall—Jill will oversee a talented and unified leadership team that will guide our campus community as we collectively move forward from an unprecedented year. Perhaps most importantly, having begun her career as an adjunct faculty member at Ursinus, Jill has long been dedicated to the rigorous yet personal and distinctive educational experience that has emerged most recently as Ursinus Quest.
She has had the very rare opportunity to see the college through a variety of lenses and has long-established relationships with the extended Ursinus family, both on and off campus. Her experience has been honed at places such as Lehigh University, Haverford College, Cedar Crest College, and Fox Chase Cancer Center—altogether distinctive institutions in which she was instrumental in building more collaborative and philanthropic cultures. Her ability to lead strong teams, coupled with her dedication to Ursinus’s mission, vision, and community values, were essential ingredients in the recent and successfully completed Keep the Promise campaign. And though she’ll serve in a different role, the advancement team will have the opportunity to reflect on those successes during Promises Kept … and Miles to Go, a national tour that begins this August that will convey the college’s recent (and numerous) accomplishments.
During the search process, Jill spoke genuinely about the strength of our academic programs, the character of our campus, and the unwavering bonds that have long been the hallmark of faculty-student relationships at the college. We were grateful to hear that her focus for the next year will be on the people of Ursinus. She is fully committed to earnestly listening to faculty, staff, and students—and being transparent in ongoing campus communications. And we are confident in Jill’s ability to support her colleagues’ momentum in areas such as academics, enrollment, financial sustainability, diversity and inclusivity, and community outreach, to name just a few.
I would like to take this opportunity to also express my gratitude to the interim president search task force, chaired by Trustee Catherine Geczik ’84. The Ursinus community—both here on campus and beyond—put forth an incredibly talented pool of candidates. This process was both expeditious and thorough, and I’m thankful for the task force’s leadership. I will share an update about the upcoming presidential search committee and will name our executive search firm partner in a campus communication next week.
Rob Wonderling P’16, Chair of the Board of Trustees