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Ph.D. Alum Takes Helm At Clarkson College

Ph.D. Alum Takes Helm At Clarkson College

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

On August 1, Clarkson College will welcome Dr. Tony Damewood as its President.

A variety of experiences have combined to lead Damewood to the top spot at the Omaha-based health sciences college. One of his final steps was earning his Ph.D. in Human Capital Management at Bellevue University in 2014.

“In higher education, Ph.D. is always the ultimate in credentials,” Damewood said. “I started realizing that maybe being President of the College was an option, but it certainly wouldn’t be an option if I didn’t have the right credentials. When Bellevue started its Human Capital Management program, I felt like it would be a good option.”

DamewoodDamewood was in the first cohort to go through the program.

“As an administrator in higher education, I have kind of different perspective. We were the first class and I kind of expected there to be some bumps in the road. One of the things that I was always impressed with about Bellevue was that they always tried to work with you to smooth those bumps out in a fair way,” Damewood said.

Good content and quality instruction helped smooth out those early bumps. Damewood praised the efforts of then-Program Director Dr. Jennifer Moss Breen, Dr. Greg Ashley, Dr. Carolyn Youssef-Morgan, and his Dissertation Advisor, Dr. Stephen Linenberger.

“I’d have to thank Dr. Linenberger. Without him it would have been rough to get through. I think he’s great and send people to him all the time,” Damewood said. “Dr. Ashley was an excellent faculty member. I always enjoyed his classes. Dr. Youssef was by far the hardest. She added legitimacy to the program because of the difficulty of it.”

Damewood started his Clarkson College career in 1999 as the Director of Admissions and has progressively earned more responsibility. He’ll be replacing Dr. Louis Burgher, who will remain on as President Emeritus.

“The gist of it will be more about strategic planning, big-picture planning -- anything that might have to do with legislative issues, legal issues, acquiring new space-types of issues. I’m not a micro-manager by any stretch. I will stay out of the way of the experts and let them do their jobs much like our current president does,” Damewood said. “I have a feeling there are a host of things that I’m not quite sure of that will be coming my way. That’ll be exciting too.”

A family atmosphere and measurable success in the classroom are two areas of strength at Clarkson that Damewood hopes to build on in his tenure.

“The size of our institution (about 1,200 students) allows our culture to be family oriented,” he said. “We continue to have measurements in place that prove our education is of high quality. Most of our programs require that our students take a licensure test at the end and our pass rates are extremely high. Higher than the national average and sometimes the highest in the country, we’re very excited about that.”

Damewood earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Graceland College, in Lamoni, Iowa in 1990 and worked for five years as the Director of Admissions and Head Baseball Coach at Iowa Wesleyan in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. From there he took a job as Head Baseball Coach at Bluefield College in Virginia before heading back to the Midwest to begin his Clarkson College career.

So did he have his eye on the Presidency back in 1999?

“There was no way that that was in my mind. We were moving back to be closer to family. I knew that I wanted to stay in higher education and this was the best opportunity, but leading the institution was never in my mind at the beginning,” he said.

While Damewood has carved out his career on the administrative side of higher education, his college coaching career is also of note. He coached Marc Rardin, the highly successful head coach at Iowa Western Community College, at Iowa Wesleyan. Rardin’s teams have won three Junior College World Series titles. The pair also coached together at Bluefield College.

While at Iowa Wesleyan, Damewood also coached Darrell Einertson, who appeared in 11 games for the New York Yankees in the 2000 season. Einertson played a role, albeit a relatively inactive one, in Damewood’s first interaction with Bellevue University.

In 1995, the year the Bruins won the NAIA College World Series; Damewood’s Iowa Wesleyan squad faced Bellevue University in a first-round Region III contest in Topeka, Kansas. Einertson was unavailable for the game having pitched just a few days prior.

“I decided to throw the No. 2 guy at Bellevue. We ended up losing 5-1. We’re in the loser’s bracket. The coaches talked and we decided that if we can’t win with our No. 3 in the loser’s bracket and then come back with (Einertson) against Bellevue then we’re not going to win the whole thing anyway,” Damewood said. “We lost and I had a guy who could throw 95 that didn’t pitch in a meaningful game.”

What lesson was learned?

“Always go with your No. 1.”