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Native selected as college VP

December 26, 2012

Dr. John Zimmerman

A former Wapakoneta resident is serving his first full semester as vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty at a Pennsylvania college.

As a member of the senior administrative team at Washington & Jefferson College, Dr. John Zimmerman’s responsibilities include all aspects of academic affairs, including faculty, curriculum, library, study abroad, advising, and some aspects of instructional technology.

“It is an honor to be serving in this capacity and I appreciate the trust President Tori Haring-Smith and other members of senior staff have in me,” Zimmerman said of his new position. “W&J is a wonderful institution and this is a wonderful opportunity for me to continue to play a role in the unsurpassed liberal arts and sciences education W&J offers.”

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Penn., is a national liberal arts and sciences college founded in 1781 which emphasizes interdisciplinary study and independent student work, according to a release.

Zimmerman, a 1976 graduate of Wapakoneta High School, served as chair of the Mathematics Department at the college for nine years prior to his promotion and helped establish a program rich with undergraduate research opportunities.

An award-winning teacher, Zimmerman’s research interests include 19th century analysis and mathematics history. Through the years, he has given numerous talks on the development of math in America.

Prior to Washington & Jefferson, Zimmerman was a professor of mathematics in the Ohio University system, where he received his doctorate degree in mathematical sciences. He has degrees in French, mathematics, education and statistics from Bowling Green State University and his doctorate in mathematical sciences from Ohio University.

The son of the late Kay and Frank Zimmerman belonged to St. Joseph Catholic Church parish and was employed at Wapakoneta Machine Company, while living here.

Zimmerman, who spent more than 25 years in the classroom teaching at the college and university level, spent the past 10 years as chairman of the math department at W&J.

He said his appointment as vice president was a “coincidence.” He never set out with the goal of serving in an administrative role at a college.

“I started out with the goal of being a math teacher,” Zimmerman said.

His success at that is something of which he is proud.

Zimmerman said he was inspired by James Neumeier, a teacher at Wapakoneta High School, Duane Bollenbacher, a math professor at Bluffton University and Kathy Krendl, president of Otterbein University.

It might not have been in Zimmerman’s initial plans, but he said he enjoys being able to help people through his new position as he works with the president of the college to improve the overall academic quality of programs being offered and finding ways financially to support their world-class faculty in teaching and research endeavors.

“I am always looking forward to new challenges,” Zimmerman said. “Higher education today is under enormous budgetary pressures and the challenge is to find a way to make college affordable for students.”

Tasked with beginning a graduate program at the college, Zimmerman said he is hoping his experience at Ohio University, where he worked for 12 years, will help him create master’s degree programs that will be attractive to young professionals in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.

While he won’t be teaching this year, Zimmerman said as chief academic officer he will teach a course within the next couple of years and he always enjoys teaching calculus and history of mathematics.

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