Courtesy of Lakeland College
Dr. Michael A. Grandillo, a veteran of more than three decades of dynamic private higher education and community leadership with an impressive record of success, today was introduced as the new president of Lakeland College.
Grandillo, 54, succeeds Dr. Stephen Gould, who was named Lakeland’s president in 1998 and will retire in May after serving the college for 42 years as a teacher and administrator. Grandillo is the 15th president of Lakeland, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
Grandillo comes to Lakeland from Tiffin, Ohio, where he has lived for 31 years and served as a significant presence in the region in a holistic blend of private college administrator, elected public servant and community activist and volunteer.
After starting his professional career in admissions at Ohio Northern University (his undergraduate alma mater), Grandillo served 14 years at Heidelberg College where he worked in leadership roles in admissions and development. He has spent the last 17 years as Tiffin University’s vice president for development and public affairs and as an adjunct instructor of political science.
A scholar and historian, Grandillo has been a significant presence in community affairs at local, regional and national levels, including 17 years as a member of the Tiffin City Council and service with numerous nonprofits and other community groups.
"I am humbled and honored to be named the 15th President of Lakeland College,” Grandillo said. “Lakeland has enjoyed 150 years of life-changing experiences and has a keen sense of social justice. I look forward, with pleasure, to a long association of building relationships and further educating our country's leaders."
For Grandillo, today’s announcement is the culmination of 30 years of work in the public and private sectors. “My wife, Nancy, and I have been part of the Tiffin community for such a long time, so it was critical to us to find just the right fit if we decided to leave,” Grandillo said. “Clearly, finding the person that would be the right fit to lead this institution was also a priority for Lakeland. I see a power that permeates Lakeland – and that power is an overwhelming ethos that changes peoples’ lives through education.
“My experiences at ONU, Heidelberg and Tiffin will augment the goals of the trustees. Since Lakeland is a college of the United Church of Christ that wants to grow and raise its academic presence, that provides an even better match.”
Robert Melzer, chairman of the Lakeland Board of Trustees, said the college’s governing body is pleased to hire a leader with a diverse skill set that will build on the considerable success realized during Gould’s administration.
“Dr. Grandillo has spent more than 30 years working at institutions that bear many similarities to Lakeland,” Melzer said. “We face many of the same challenges, including developing and managing our resources, creating and maintaining programs that attract and retain quality faculty and students and continuing to develop our campus.
“Dr. Grandillo played significant roles in helping Heidelberg and Tiffin address these challenges and he helped position them for long-term success. His accomplishments as a strategist and a fundraiser, combined with his passion for making an impact on students and the greater community, make him an ideal fit for Lakeland.”
Grandillo led five successful capital campaigns at Tiffin and Heidelberg, including the largest campaigns in the history of both institutions, and the endowment at both institutions tripled under his leadership. He has also enjoyed success in growing enrollment, serving a leadership role as an associate dean at Heidelberg as part of a team that doubled the college’s enrollment.
Grandillo led the funding and development of Tiffin’s campus, including the completion of real estate acquisitions that added 110 acres and the construction of 11 new buildings, a nature preserve, an athletic complex, a retirement village and the expansion of three existing buildings.
Under his leadership, Tiffin transformed a 10-acre polluted scrap yard into university use. This $30 million investment, which partnered Tiffin and its donors with federal, state, and local agencies, turned a Tiffin eye-sore into a restored brown-field, including a $12 million recreation center and a $16 million apartment style living-learning community.
Jeff Ottum, chair of Lakeland’s Presidential Search Committee, said that while Grandillo’s many accomplishments were a large factor in his selection, even more important was his passion for Lakeland’s mission. “Lakeland College serves a wide range of students, including many first-generation and continuing adult students who may be underserved by most colleges and universities,” Ottum said. “Dr. Grandillo brings a strong belief in the power of this mission to transform students and society.”
Dr. Paul Marion, president of Tiffin University, said Grandillo is well suited to provide effective leadership at Lakeland. “Dr. Grandillo deserves a great deal of credit for the significant growth and development experienced by this university in recent years,” Marion said. “He has been especially instrumental in the funds that have been raised to construct a number of new buildings and to create endowed student scholarships. During his tenure as vice president for development and public affairs, there has been substantial growth in enrollment and academic programs, in addition to the many campus improvements.”
Grandillo’s reach wasn’t limited to higher education. He was elected to the Tiffin City Council four times, and served a year and a half as council president. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown recently appointed him to his commission to screen candidates for U.S. marshal, U.S. attorney and U.S. judge.
A published historian, Grandillo has special academic interest in the denominational movement in higher education, the Italian Renaissance and the American Presidency. He has authored numerous articles and presentations related primarily to student success, admissions policies and development, and in 2010 completed the definitive institutional history of Tiffin University, “Onward to the Dawn.”
He has received numerous awards and honors, including being named one of Northwest Ohio’s top young leaders (Twenty Under 40), a White House Fellowship Regional Finalist, the Outstanding Dissertation Award recipient from the University of Toledo and a CASE Circle of Excellence Award for Educational Fund Raising for Overall Improvement (1995-1999).
Grandillo earned a doctor of philosophy in higher education and Italian Renaissance history from the University of Toledo, a master of science in education from The University of Dayton and a bachelor of arts in political science from Ohio Northern University.
What others are saying about Dr. Grandillo:
Dr. DeBow Freed, president emeritus, Ohio Northern University and The University of Findlay: “Dr. Michael Grandillo is exceptionally well prepared for a college presidency. He has served the institutions with which he has been associated exceedingly and has had a lifetime career of difference-making public service. He will bring excellent dimensions to the presidency of Lakeland College and have great impact on the institution. He and his wife, Nancy, will be fine additions to the campus and Lakeland community and will serve them both beautifully.”
Dr. George Kidd, Jr., president emeritus, Tiffin University: “Dr. Grandillo has the experience and understands the concept of an entire institution. He sees beyond the pieces. He will help Lakeland’s faculty and staff in the continuing development of the institution. Michael is a person of great drive and ambition and he will quickly focus on the issues and strengths of Lakeland and work with everyone in the Lakeland community to move it forward.”
Dr. William L. Robinson, executive assistant to the president, Ohio Northern University: “Dr. Mike Grandillo has touched thousands of lives in positive ways – students, faculty and alumni alike – in his administrative career. Mike has incredible energy and demonstrates leadership, passion and compassion in his professional life. He brings that dedication to Lakeland. Collaboration and partnerships within the community have assisted him in transforming Tiffin University. To be sure, the Lakeland community will witness that transformation with Dr. Grandillo. The Grandillos are a wonderful Christian family that nurtures the private, church-related institution. This has been Mike Grandillo's forte. Dr. Mike Grandillo leaves a dynamic impression in every step of his career. He is a true higher education leader.”
Dr. Rolf Wegenke, president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU): “It is clear that Dr. Grandillo is a ‘builder,’ but a ‘builder with a difference.’ His lifelong professional focus in admissions and development, as well as his scholarly publications, have centered on students. Lakeland College has grown by responding to the changing needs of students. This is clearly a case of the right person in the right place.”