Skip to Content

Presidential Search

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

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  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.  



Update from the search committee — April 28, 2023
TXWES is now accepting nominations and applications for the University’s 21st President

Texas Wesleyan University’s Board of Trustees invites nominations and applications for the University’s 21st President. The next President will have the opportunity to lead this liberal arts university to its next level of success through a continued commitment to student-centered achievement, academic rigor, diversity, equity and inclusion, community engagement, financial discipline and the passionate articulation of its mission and values. 

The Texas Wesleyan campus is centrally located on 83 beautiful acres in East Fort Worth, Texas. Undergraduate enrollment is about 1,700, with a student faculty ratio of 16:1. A focus on student-centered, best-practice teaching methods and the integration of technology with a focus on student outcomes is the primary goal of the faculty.  

The University seeks a dynamic, entrepreneurial and strategic leader who embraces the importance of the liberal arts and professional education in a time of increasing change and challenges in higher education. The next President will be a mission-driven, visionary, collaborative leader who will lead both within and outside of the University with the broader community in advancing the mission and vision of Texas Wesleyan while strengthening the University’s ability to serve its diverse student population and meet the changes occurring now and in the future. 

The University is well-positioned to strengthen its reputation for addressing the most important challenges confronting higher education: creating access, affordability and student success for a changing, and diverse student population. Under the successful twelve-year tenure of President Frederick G. Slabach, Texas Wesleyan has grown its academic programs, facilities and endowment and has taken a leadership position in creating partnerships for revitalization of the East Fort Worth community. The University has stable finances, growing enrollment and is poised to advance its identity, visibility and influence in the dynamic Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex region.   

Texas Wesleyan seeks an energetic and inspiring leader who can build upon the momentum of the past decade, exploit its assets and unique opportunities and, most importantly, communicate a vision that inspires the campus, alumni and philanthropic community. The next President will have exceptional interpersonal and communication skills, build relationships with community leaders and donors, strengthen the Texas Wesleyan community internally, invest in the campus and community, secure the University’s finances and share in the growth of the Metroplex region.    

Academic Search is partnering with Texas Wesleyan University for this search. Confidential inquiries, nominations and applications are invited. When submitting a nomination, please include the nominee’s full name, title, position and email address and send to  

For more information about the position, institution and application process, please review the full position profile on the Academic Search website. Those who are considering applying are encouraged to schedule a confidential conversation with one of the Senior Consultants leading the search: Dr. Stuart Dorsey ( or Dr. Suzanne Mellon ( or utilize her bookings calendar).  

Review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment is made. For full consideration, please submit materials by Sunday, April 23, 2023. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.    

Texas Wesleyan University is committed to ensuring equal opportunity for all its students and alumni. Texas Wesleyan University is committed to a policy against discrimination in employment based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, veteran status or disability. 

Search Firm Selection Announcement from Chair of the Presidential Search Committee Vickie Stevens '80 — Feb. 15, 2023
Update from Chair of the Presidential Search Committee Vickie Stevens '80 — Feb. 15, 2023
Update from Chair of the Board of Trustees Glenn Lewis — Jan. 13, 2023

Dear Members of the TXWES Community, 

As you know, President Fred Slabach has accepted the position as dean at the University of Mississippi School of Law effective July 1, 2023. We on the Board of Trustees are deeply grateful for the exceptional leadership Fred has provided Texas Wesleyan University for 12 years, and the University is a better institution today because of his hard work and dedication.

I write today to share some initial information about the search for the next president of the University. The Board of Trustees will be implementing a search process that will allow everyone to contribute. We will conduct a national search with the goal to appoint the new president effective July 1, 2023.

The University has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to higher education executive search firms with the expectation that we will have retained the services of a firm by the end of the month. We are confident a firm will be selected that aligns with the vision and mission of Texas Wesleyan.

The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees has asked me to appoint a search committee composed of trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni to allow input from a broad spectrum of stakeholder groups. The search committee members will be announced next week.

I am also pleased to announce that the board has asked former Chief of Staff and General Counsel for Texas Wesleyan Patti Gearhart Turner, along with University Counsel Megan Cooley and Executive Assistant to the Office of the President Sherry Sandles to staff the committee, and they have graciously accepted.

Patti served TXWES as Chief of Staff from 2011 to 2021 and led several searches for executive staff positions. Sherry has served as Executive Assistant to the President for seven years, and Megan joined Texas Wesleyan as University Counsel in October 2021.

There will also be many opportunities for the campus community to provide input into the search process in the coming weeks. Additional information about the search for the University’s 21st president will be shared as it becomes available

Have a terrific three-day weekend.

All my best,

Glenn Lewis

Chair of the Board of Trustees 

Update from Chair of the Board Glenn Lewis — Jan. 20, 2023

Dear Members of the TXWES Community,

I am pleased to share some important updates about the Texas Wesleyan University presidential search. The board has approved a national search with the goal of having the next president of the University in place by July 1 of this year. In addition, the presidential search committee has been appointed.

The members of the committee — faculty, staff, students and trustees, including eight who are alumni — bring a broad spectrum of experience, expertise and perspective to the work of searching for Texas Wesleyan’s 21st president. Their names are listed below. I look forward to working with them over the coming months and thank them for their willingness to serve the University in this important capacity.

While the committee will coordinate the presidential search process, the success of the search will depend on the perspectives of all members of the TXWES community. We will consider what will matter most to the University in the years ahead and what qualities we should look for in our next president. I encourage you to take part in the upcoming listening sessions that will be announced in the coming days.

As you may have seen in previous updates, we have created a website to provide an overview of the presidential search process. It will be updated throughout the process, and we will also send additional updates via email when appropriate.

Thank you once again to those who have agreed to serve on the Presidential Search Committee and to all of you who have shared, or will share, your thoughts about Texas Wesleyan’s next president.

All my best,

Glenn Lewis
Chair of the Board of Trustees

View the Search Committee

Letter from President Slabach

Texas Wesleyan University President Frederick G. Slabach has accepted the position as dean of the University of Mississippi School of Law effective July 1, 2023. The appointment is contingent on final approval by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees at their February board meeting.

Slabach and his wife, Melany Neilson, have deep ties to Mississippi. The couple met at Ole Miss and are both alums of the university. Slabach is a graduate of the law school. 

“Being asked to return home to help lead my alma mater, one of the oldest public law schools in America, is an honor for Melany and me,” Slabach said. 

Slabach has served as president of Texas Wesleyan since January 2011. Prior to becoming president, Slabach served as dean of the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and as the chief executive officer of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation in Washington, D.C. 

 Under President Slabach’s leadership, Texas Wesleyan has invested more than $50 million in capital improvements to the campus and surrounding Polytechnic neighborhood, spurring significant economic revitalization. The University has also embraced diversity under Slabach’s leadership and has earned distinctions as both a Hispanic Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution. 

Additionally, the University’s endowment has doubled under President Slabach’s leadership. In 2022, the University set records for philanthropic support — raising more than $15 million in charitable gifts from private donors, corporations and charitable organizations.  

In an email to the campus community, Slabach expressed pride in the work of the faculty and staff in fulfilling the University’s mission in higher education, writing that “the work we are doing together here at Texas Wesleyan has been the pinnacle of my professional life. I am grateful to be a part of this community and its continued momentum. Because of you, the University’s future is bright.” 

Texas Wesleyan University Board of Trustees Chair, Glenn Lewis, said the University is a better institution today because of Slabach’s hard work and dedication.  

“President Slabach’s long and successful tenure leading a talented team of faculty and staff in the face of unprecedented challenges for higher education has resulted in a stronger, more diverse and more accessible university. His vision for, and commitment to, our Smaller. Smarter. university have been steadfast and untiring,” said Lewis. “The next president of Texas Wesleyan University will have a strong foundation upon which to build.” 

Donna Nance, vice president of finance and administration, echoed Lewis's words, citing that, under President Slabach, the University has received a 3.0 on the U.S. Department of Education Financial Responsibility calculation, the maximum score.

“President Fred Slabach has been an incredible leader not only for Texas Wesleyan University but for all of Fort Worth,” said Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker. “Under his leadership, Slabach led the economic revitalization of the campus and the Rosedale Renaissance in east Fort Worth.  His tenure as President is both impressive and transformative for the University and we are indebted to his leadership. David and I wish Fred and his wife Melany all the best in their return to Mississippi. He left TXWES and Fort Worth better than he found them and for that, I am incredibly grateful.” 

Lewis will outline the search process for Slabach’s successor in the coming days. President Slabach intends to serve as University President through June. 

Additional information about the search for the University’s 21st president will be shared as it becomes available.  For more information, visit