Frombgen begins work as the new president of Southwestern

Elizabeth Frombgen has completed her first week as Southwestern College’s 20th President.

“It is a great day to be a Builder,” said Frombgen. “Southwestern College is an incredible institution with strong academic and extracurricular offerings; a beautifully historic campus; and unique traditions, but what truly makes our college so distinctive are the wonderfully caring people – students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community.”

Elizabeth FrombgenFrombgen and her husband, Doug Kinnear, a retired professor of economics, moved to Winfield in early June from Pennsylvania where Frombgen was the vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college at Thiel College. 

“We have been so kindly greeted by the people of Winfield and by my colleagues on campus,” said Frombgen. “Winfield is going to be a great home to us both.”

Though Frombgen’s first official day was July 1, she was around campus throughout June, getting the lay of the land and meeting with constituents. Frombgen also hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the college’s new residence hall at the corner of Warren Avenue and Houston Street in mid-June. 

Her first official week as president was spent meeting with faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and community members to listen and plan. 

“In a few weeks we’ll begin welcoming the Class of 2026 and returning students to campus and we are excitedly preparing for their arrival and the academic year,” said Frombgen. 

Southwestern is well positioned to welcome students in part thanks to the work of the college’s chief financial officer, Tony Crouch, who has served as interim president since January.  

“I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Tony Crouch, who has capably served as the interim president,” wrote Frombgen in an email to faculty and staff on her first day. “Tony truly stepped up for Southwestern and has done an excellent job over these past months. I am grateful that he will continue to serve our college as CFO. We are blessed by Tony’s skill as a knowledgeable financial manager and strategic advisor, but also by his incredible work ethic.”

­­Frombgen, a political scientist, professor, and administrator with more than 20 years of experience in higher education, has notable practice in strengthening the student experience, curriculum revision, market-based program development, and student retention work. Additionally, Frombgen is known for building cooperative relationships with alumni and the community that strengthen the institutions she has served. She is committed to instilling a campus climate in which all are welcomed, valued, respected, and engaged.

“With the support of our community and the Builder family we are committed to continuing the transformational work that has defined Southwestern for 137 years, and together we will propel our college to the next level of excellence and impact.”

Frombgen earned her Ph.D. and master of arts degree in political science from Purdue University and her bachelor of arts degree from Western Washington University. She was on faculty at Hastings College from 2001 to 2012, serving as a professor and department chair before accepting the role of associate vice president for academic affairs, a position she held until 2017 when she accepted the position at Thiel.

Frombgen has hit the ground running. She is busy getting to know the Builder family and the broader community, with several local and regional meet-and-greet opportunities in the works. She will be presenting at the Rotary Club of Winfield on July 20 and at the Rotary Club of Arkansas City on September 12. Additionally, the college will host a Community Coffee on August 25 at 9:30 a.m. in the Stir & Bustle Coffee Shop located in Deets Library. The college also invites alumni and the community to campus for Homecoming festivities on October 15 which will include opportunities to meet the new president.

Southwestern will hold a formal inauguration of Frombgen in the spring, corresponding with Founders Weekend festivities on campus.

As Frombgen takes the helm at Southwestern College, alumnus, Kim Moore, completes three years of service as chair of the 29-member volunteer Board of Trustees. Scott Hecht, a member of the Class of 1990, will serve as chair, a position Hecht held previously. 

“I want to thank Kim for his leadership over these past years, a period of unique and unprecedented challenges. Kim’s term was capped off with the exceptionally important work of finding the right person to serve as president for our college,” said Hecht. “I'm enthusiastic about Liz’s leadership and the future of Southwestern College. Liz is focused on enhancing the experience of our students and strengthening our institution. She is aware of the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for Southwestern, and I've worked with Liz enough already to know she's the right person to rally Moundbuilders forward into a new era.”

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