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Dr. Emily Messer elected as Texas Wesleyan's 21st President

06.21.2023 | By: Texas Wesleyan University
The new president of texas wesleyan universiity, emily messer

Dr. Emily Messer, an accomplished educational leader, has been named the 21st president of Texas Wesleyan University. Driven by the University's commitment to prioritize students, Messer steps forward to lead one of the state's best liberal arts universities. With close to 20 years of higher educational experience, Messer will bring her expertise in enrollment, university development and student life to Texas Wesleyan.  

The Texas Wesleyan University Board of Trustees unanimously voted to appoint Messer as the president of the University effective July 1, 2023. Messer succeeds Frederick G. Slabach, who served as the 20th president of Texas Wesleyan for 12 years. 

“We were very fortunate to have many qualified applicants who expressed an interest in leading our University,” said Chair of the Board of Trustees Glenn Lewis. “After carefully reviewing all options, we concluded that Dr. Messer stood out as the person we felt was best suited to lead Texas Wesleyan University into the future. We are very pleased with our selection.” 

Messer’s appointment was the result of a comprehensive search conducted by the Presidential Search Committee and assisted by the executive search firm Academic Search. The search committee, composed of board trustees, faculty, staff, alumni and a current student, brought diverse perspectives into the effort to elect a new president.  

The committee and search firm helped implement a comprehensive engagement plan to ensure the various voices of the Texas Wesleyan community were considered. The committee also participated in listening sessions conducted earlier in 2023 to provide feedback and suggestions related to the search. The committee interviewed a diverse group of candidates that aligned with the University's commitment to fostering inclusivity and accessibility for all students, employees, alumni, and the Texas Wesleyan community.  

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Emily Messer as the next President of the University,” said Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees Vickie Stevens. “As the new president, Dr. Messer will bring her knowledge of enrollment and retention management, student success, advancement and development of new undergraduate and graduate programs to meet the needs of the ever-changing economic markets. Dr. Messer has the skills to build upon the success of President Slabach with her talent and vision, and we look forward to the future of Texas Wesleyan University under her leadership.” 

Messer comes to Texas Wesleyan from Jacksonville State University in Alabama where she served as vice president for advancement and enrollment management. She joined JSU’s staff in 2018 as the associate vice president for enrollment management and led JSU to record enrollment and a record year in philanthropic support including fundraising for a major gift initiative for the $25 million dollar Randy Owen Center for the Performing Arts.  

Prior to JSU, Messer was the vice president of enrollment management, assistant dean of students and director of student life at Shorter University in Rome, Georgia. She also has been involved with several professional organizations, including the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and the Association of Governing Board for Colleges and Universities. 

Messer earned her Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Administration from the University of Alabama and received two degrees from JSU — a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Public Administration. 

In the community, Messer has participated in various activities such as serving on the planning committee for the Advancing Women to the Top Conference and joining the boards of Gadsden Etowah Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Calhoun County and Youth Leadership Development Program in Alabama.  

Through her dedication to higher education and commitment to helping advance the next generation of students, Messer has received several recognitions, including participating in the American Academic Leadership Institute’s Executive Leadership Academy and EAB Future President’s Intensive. Adding to her exceptional qualifications and achievements, with her appointment as the University’s 21st president, she will also make history as the university’s first female president.  

“I am honored to serve as the 21st president of Texas Wesleyan University,” said Messer. “I would like to thank the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and students for the opportunity to lead this exceptional university into its next chapter. I look forward to joining the TXWES family and working closely with stakeholders to continue to serve our students and community.” 

As president, Messer will undertake the responsibility of leading the Texas Wesleyan community. With its engagement in the community, extending student leadership opportunities and providing transformative learning on its Smaller. Smarter. campus, Messer will continue to propel Texas Wesleyan forward as an institutional leader in higher education. 

Under new leadership, Texas Wesleyan will maintain its commitment to helping pave the way for its students to become movers and shakers in the community, as well as continue to provide economic revitalization to East Fort Worth.  

“As Texas Wesleyan’s next president, I am committed to advancing the mission of the university,” said Messer. “I look forward to implementing programs to ensure student success and student engagement, building on established relationships and cultivating new relationships in the Fort Worth community, boosting the University’s visibility in the philanthropic community to support campus initiatives and fostering transformational learning experiences for our diverse student body.” 

Dr. Messer enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, reading and outdoor activities. She and her husband, Chris, have two daughters. 


For more information, contact Tammy Evans-Mitchell, director of communications strategy and public relations, at

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At Texas Wesleyan, we have a rich history and a Texas-sized reputation. As stewards of the University, it is our responsibility to build a future as bright as our past.