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Sheahon J. Zenger

Sheahon Zenger
Sheahon J. Zenger

Sheahon J. Zenger, Ph.D., previously the interim president at the University of New Haven, was named the 21st president of Illinois Wesleyan University, effective July 1, 2024.

Zenger was elected by the IWU Board of Trustees after a national search that drew a broad and enthusiastic set of leaders. He was announced by board chair Timothy J. Szerlong ’74 at a campus event on April 10, 2024. Zenger succeeds President S. Georgia Nugent, who stepped down after five years at the helm. 

Zenger has more than 30 years of experience in higher education leadership, including as an assistant to the chancellor at Texas Christian University, plus terms as director of athletics for the University of New Haven, University of Kansas and Illinois State University. 

Across his career, he has raised nearly $400 million to support capital projects and strategic initiatives, with demonstrated success in building relationships with private donors.

At the University of New Haven, Zenger's accomplishments included creating new opportunities for collaboration and partnership with city and state governments; launching a new brand campaign aimed at increasing visibility and enrollment for the university; and initiating comprehensive student recruitment efforts, key to securing two of the largest incoming classes in the university’s history in the past two years. He also facilitated implementation of the university’s strategic plan and the launch of eight new degree and certificate programs, with active involvement in faculty development initiatives.

Zenger's strong experience in developing programs to support the welfare, scholarship and future success of student-athletes during each of his terms as athletic director also befits the guiding philosophy of Titan Athletics, where more than 40% of the IWU student body participates in intercollegiate athletics. 

His leadership is marked by culture-building: throughout his career in higher education, Zenger has prioritized inclusion and equity, creating or leading diversity programs, and initiating a gender equity review and upgrade while at ISU. At the University of Kansas, he introduced The Kansas Way to orient new staff more effectively to the organization and promote staff development.

Zenger earned a bachelor's degree in English and secondary education and a master's in journalism and mass communications, both from Kansas State University, and a Ph.D. in educational policy and leadership at the University of Kansas. He and his wife Pam have three adult children.