Former Business Dean Named To Two-Year Term As Ohio University President

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — The former dean of Ohio University’s business college will serve as the university’s president for the next two years.

Hugh Sherman will serve out the remaining two years that President Duane Nellis would have served under the terms of his six-year contract.

Nellis announced two weeks ago that he is stepping down early and will return to teaching as a geography professor at the university.

Sherman’s appointment as the university’s 22nd president is effective June 14 and runs through June 30, 2023.

Hugh Sherman [Ohio University]
“It is a great honor to serve a university and a region that I love and that I have called home for more than 20 years,” Sherman said in a prepared statement. “I take this charge very seriously, and I am fully committed to partnering with students, faculty, staff and community members to move Ohio University forward in a way that honors our 217-year history but also positions us for future success.”

The university’s board of trustees announced Sherman’s appointment late Thursday afternoon and said it plans to launch a search for the university’s 23rd president in early fall of 2022 with plans for that person to begin no later than July 1, 2023.

Sherman takes the helm as the university struggles with a steep decline in enrollment over the past several years that has cut deeply into its operating budget, leading to layoffs, mandatory furloughs and other cost-cutting measures. University leaders project this slump will continue for at least another couple of years.

Sherman served as dean of the business college from 2007 until January of this year, when he stepped down with plans to return to teaching as a professor of management.

Under Sherman’s leadership, the business college was consistently ranked as one of the top 50 public undergraduate business colleges in the country and the number of enrolled students doubled during this time.

“Hugh Sherman is a respected leader who accomplished a great deal during his time as dean of the college of business and will make an excellent president during this time of transition,” board of trustees Chairman Cary Cooper said in a prepared statement.

Sherman started his career with Ohio University in 1995 after a 22-year career in business. He launched his professional career with Swatch Watch (formerly SMH Corp.), a large Swiss watch and electronics manufacturer, in 1974. He served as vice president of marketing until 1986 and during that time was responsible for developing and implementing marketing strategies for a $50 million division as well as assisting the North American group president in developing strategic marketing and operational plans in the United States.

During his time in the private sector, Sherman also served as a consultant and founded International Footwear, operating eight factory outlet shoe stores throughout the East Coast.

After joining Ohio University, Sherman directed the MBA program as assistant dean and then rose into a number of leadership positions, including chair of the Department of Management Systems, associate dean of Operations and Strategy, associate director of the Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs, and assistant to the university provost for strategic planning. He currently serves as a senior fellow at the Voinovich School, providing strategic oversight of economic development and leadership programs.

Sherman and his wife, Cynthia, better known as Nikki, are active members of the Athens community and the larger Southeast Ohio region, recently establishing a scholarship for Appalachian students. Sherman also volunteers his time with various community organizations throughout Ohio and serves on the board of directors for Tech Growth and the Ohio University Inn.

Sherman holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Guelph University in Canada, an MBA from Northeastern University, and a Ph.D. in strategic management and international business from Temple University. His research interests include corporate governance, international business, entrepreneurship and economic development.