Dr. Matthew vandenBerg
In October 2020, the Presbyterian College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to elect Dr. Matthew P. vandenBerg as the institution’s 19th president. He took office on February 1, 2021, becoming one of the youngest college presidents in the nation.
President vandenBerg is an ardent champion for liberal arts colleges and an accomplished higher education, external relations, strategic planning, and fundraising executive. Bringing a spirit of energy, optimism, collaboration, and innovation to PC, he has quickly built an impressive and service-minded leadership team, completed an ambitious listening tour with more than 1,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends, engaged deeply with the student body, and supported initiatives to further bolster the college’s financial strength and overall vitality.
The early focus of President vandenBerg’s administration has been to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to students and student success, to build on the college’s historic strengths toward a bold, distinctive, and galvanizing vision, to partner with Laurens County leaders to accelerate growth and development, to foster community building and inclusion on campus, and to facilitate the work of PC’s talented faculty and staff through creativity and resource development.
As a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) who has led campaigns at 11 educational and research organizations, President vandenBerg brings two decades of constituent engagement and philanthropic experience to PC. Prior to his tenure at PC, he served as vice president for advancement and external relations at Alma College in Michigan. During his tenure there, the institution’s overall fundraising production increased from an annual average of $6 million to more than $17 million, and the college achieved its five largest years for budget-related annual giving and overall philanthropic support. President vandenBerg also planned and implemented the record-setting “Our Time is Now” campaign, which fully funded all 16 of its major priorities and raised more than $125 million, compared to the previous record effort of $37 million. The campaign also generated more than 30 seven-figure gifts, compared with three of such magnitude during the prior effort.
As Alma’s chief external relations officer, vandenBerg worked closely with the broader Alma community in a variety of ways, including by promoting economic development, facilitating community service projects and internship opportunities, and meeting with elected officials. He also oversaw and designed the launch of the Alma Ambassador Program®, a trend-setting, branded engagement initiative designed to organize, support, and promote all types of volunteerism benefitting the college, its students, and its host community. In just five years, the program grew to more than 5,000 members and became the single-largest comprehensive volunteer engagement initiative among U.S. liberal arts institutions. In that same timespan, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recognized the Alma Ambassador Program® with 13 awards, including the prestigious Platinum Award for Best Practices in Alumni Relations.
Before his tenure at Alma College, vandenBerg served as associate vice president for development at Albion College in Albion, Mich., where he positioned the school to launch a $100 million campaign and oversaw a record $2.5 million annual fund. As assistant dean for development and alumni relations at the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing, vandenBerg helped launch the university’s $3 billion Bicentennial Campaign.
President vandenBerg brings to PC a variety of experience in leading critical campus-wide strategic conversations on the development of curricular and co-curricular offerings. At Alma, he chaired the college’s Task Force on Institutional Distinction, a diverse group of faculty and staff charged with inventorying Alma’s existing strengths and crafting strategies to leverage those assets to differentiate the college from competitors. The task force’s work enabled Alma to offer an even more powerful value proposition to prospective students. Moreover, the group’s efforts set the stage for the emergence of signature interdisciplinary centers tied to key institutional strengths.
President vandenBerg is a fervent advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion work at higher education institutions and brings to PC an array of relevant leadership experience from such institutions as Centenary College (now Centenary University) in Hackettstown, N.J. and Indiana University. He also helped lead Alma College in undertaking an independent assessment of its campus climate related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
President vandenBerg has researched issues in higher education throughout his career. His doctoral dissertation, “The symbiotic path to mutual value: How small, private, liberal arts institutions understand and manage donor influence,” – won the 2019 John Grenzebach Award for Outstanding Research in Philanthropy for Educational Advancement, sponsored by CASE. He has conducted and presented original research at Peking University in Beijing, China and has published in Insider Higher Education and other outlets. He has been a frequent public speaker and presenter at conferences, including engagements with the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the National Parent Fundraisers conference.
Prior to his work in higher education, President vandenBerg served as assistant vice president at CCS Fund Raising, a leading fundraising management firm. He also served as a foreign policy, national defense, and immigration advisor and a spokesperson for the chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence at the U.S. House of Representatives.
A summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Alma College, President vandenBerg holds a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. He also earned a master’s of public affairs degree from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, where he concentrated in nonprofit management and public policy analysis.
President vandenBerg and First Lady, Melissa, are both lifelong Presbyterians and were married at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., just blocks from where they met. The vandenBergs have two children, Jackson (8) and Sylvia (5).
Robert Acunto brings more than 20 years of intercollegiate athletic experience to his position as PC’s athletic director.
As the former senior associate athletic director for development and external relations at the University of Texas at El Paso. Acunto led and coordinated all external relations for the intercollegiate athletic department. He managed all departments that focused on athletic development, broadcasting, marketing and promotions, season ticketing, and graphic design and video production. He also supervised the football and men’s golf programs.
Prior to his service at UTEP, Acunto served in the athletic department at The Citadel for eight years. He became the assistant athletic director for compliance and academic services in 2010 before serving as interim director of athletics from Dec. 2017 to July 2018. As interim AD, he served on The Citadel’s executive leadership team and financial review board and led the intercollegiate athletic department. He also helped develop the initial draft of a comprehensive six-year strategic plan focused on cadet-student-athlete development and academic achievement, competitive excellence, and fiscal sustainability.
Before The Citadel, he served as assistant commissioner for business and internal operations for the Atlantic 10 Conference and for more than five years as assistant and associate director of athletics for compliance at American University in Washington, D.C. While at American University, he also served a year as interim director of athletics and recreation.
He graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I. He earned a master’s degree in education from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass.
He and his wife, Jennifer, an operating room nurse, enjoy spending time together as a family, which includes their dog and cat.
Rogers-Ingram Vice President for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Dr. Selena Blair
Dr. Selena Blair is Presbyterian College’s first Rogers-Ingram Vice President for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
Blair joined the president’s cabinet in June 2022 after serving as director of equity and inclusion and Title IX coordinator at Limestone University in Gaffney.
A 2004 graduate of Limestone, Blair earned a master of arts in counseling from Webster University in 2007. In 2022, she earned a doctor of education in professional leadership from Converse University in Spartanburg.
In addition, Blair earned a certification in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace from the University of South Florida and is a certified trainer with Employment Learning Innovations Inc. and the National Coalition Building Institute.
Blair, a TRIO alumna, began her professional career as an administrative specialist and counselor for the TRIO Educational Talent Search at Williamsburg Technical College in Kingstree. In 2005, she joined the staff at Greenville Technical College – first as a financial aid officer and associate director of financial aid before serving as director of TRIO Student Support Services. In 2012, she became the director of TRIO Student Support Services at the University of South Carolina Upstate, where she also served as an adjunct professor.
Blair has held numerous leadership positions at the state, regional and national levels to further philanthropic endeavors as well as advocating on Capitol Hill for policy changes and increased funding to benefit marginalized students. In 2017, Blair was the first person elected from the state of South Carolina as president of the Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel and has served on the National Board of Directors for the Council of Opportunity in Education. She is an experienced grant writer, consultant, and presenter.
Blair is a four-time winner of the S.C. TRIO Presidential Award for Exceptional Service and a 2012 winner of the Randall E. McNeal Spirit of TRIO Staff Award. That same year, she earned Greenville Technical College’s Unsung Hero Award. In 2013, she was the Unsung Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel Supporter, and in 2014, she earned the USC Upstate Multicultural Programs Empowerment Award.
Blair is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and is an active parent volunteer with the Girl Scouts of South Carolina Mountains to Midlands. She is also a minister in training, director of public relations, church clerk, and youth advisor at New Hope Christian Church.
Vice President for Enrollment
Mr. Woody O’Cain
Woody O’Cain joined the PC community as vice president for enrollment on July 26, 2021.
With more than 30 years of experience in higher education management, O’Cain has experience in enrollment, alumni and parent engagement, and fundraising.
Before joining PC, he served as a fundraiser in the division of development and alumni engagement at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., where he also served as executive director of alumni engagement and assistant vice president of alumni and parent engagement.
He began his career in 1987 at Queens University of Charlotte, N.C., where he helped recruit the school’s first co-educational class. From 1992-98, he was in charge of recruitment for all college’s serving the S.C. Honors College at the University of South Carolina.
After a two-year stint as associate vice president for enrollment at the University of Evansville, Ind., O’Cain returned to his native South Carolina, where he served for 10 years as the director of admissions at Furman University. During his tenure there, O’Cain’s work in admissions helped elevate Furman’s national reputation as a highly-selective, academically competitive, and diverse liberal arts institution.
O’Cain also served as the vice president for enrollment management at his alma mater, Erskine College, before rejoining Queens University as associate vice president and dean of admissions. In addition to his decades of experience in higher education, he also has worked as a consultant for Performa Higher Education – now CREDO – where he worked with the company’s enrollment team to guide small, private colleges and universities through their admission and recruitment strategies.
He has served on the board of the Southern Association of College Admissions Counselors and has been a popular keynote presenter and panelist for more than 80 schools around the country on all topics related to the college selection process.
A 1987 graduate of Erskine College, O’Cain and his wife, Patty, have two daughters – Ashley and Alex.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Dr. Kerry Pannell
Dr. Kerry Pannell joined PC as provost and vice president for academic affairs in June 2021.
Formerly the vice president for academic programs at the Council of Independent Colleges in Washington, D.C., Pannell is an award-winning educator and accomplished researcher.
She was honored with the Centennial Teaching Assistant Award at Stanford University while earning her Ph.D. in economics and was the recipient of the DePauw United Methodist Church Exemplary Teaching Award in 2008 during her long tenure at DePauw University in Indiana.
Pannell began teaching in DePauw’s department of economics and management in 1997 and was named the Q.G. Noblitt Professor of Economics in 2008 before serving as the school’s dean of the faculty from 2009-2012. During her tenure at DePauw, she coordinated the Consortium for Faculty Diversity at Liberal Arts Colleges, leading efforts to increase pre- and post-doctoral fellowships for diverse graduate students interested in academic careers at liberal arts colleges.
In 2013, Pannell joined the administration at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga., as the associate vice president for academic affairs and associate dean of the faculty. She received a promotion to vice president for academic affairs in 2015, serving there until 2019, when she joined the Council of Independent Colleges as an administrator.
Throughout her career, Pannell has championed diversity in academia. She continues to teach and do research on economic pedagogy. She also writes on issues of higher education, immigration, and the liberal arts.
Pannell is a magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder, where she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics. In addition to teaching at her alma mater, she also taught at Bowdoin College and the Kiev Polytechnic Institute.
Pannell and her husband, David Worthington, DePauw University Emeritus Professor of Communication and Theatre, live in Clinton with their four dogs — Boomer, Cooper, Gus, and Max.
Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives
Leni Neal Patterson ’83 — one of Presbyterian College’s most experienced leaders — has joined the president’s cabinet at the College’s first executive director of strategic initiatives.
Patterson is charged with facilitating PC’s strategic planning processes and serves as project manager for specific initiatives critical to meeting the College’s strategic plans.
In addition to assisting and advising the president, she also engages with colleagues across the campus and external constituents to ensure institutional alignment with strategic plans.
In his announcement to campus on Sept 13, 2021, vandenBerg said Patterson’s “supreme project management capabilities, her deep experience in multiple offices, and her strong relationships make her an ideal choice for this role.”
Patterson joined the staff at her alma mater in 2000 and has served in a variety of leadership roles, including dean of enrollment and dean of community life. Since 2014, she has served as executive director of alumni relations and most recently has served as interim vice president of enrollment and interim director of marketing and communications.
In her work in alumni relations, Patterson established eight alumni chapters and re-established the African-American Alumni Council and the Young Alumni Council. She engaged more than 300 alumni in PC’s Compass Program to conduct informational interviews with college sophomores related to their career interests.
She has also been a dedicated community leader. Patterson is the former chair of the Laurens County School District 55 Board of Trustees, former president of the S.C. School Boards Association, and a director on the National School Boards Association. She is a member and elder at First Presbyterian Church in Clinton, where she currently serves as a member of the Session and as chair of the administrative committee.
She has three sons and daughters-in-law and four grandchildren.
Vice President for Finance and Administration
Jeff Scaccia joined the Presbyterian College community on May 13, 2019. He oversees PC business operations as well as the departments of campus services, information technology, auxiliary services and campus police.
Scaccia is a certified public accountant and earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Central Arkansas and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He also attended the Harvard Institute for Educational Management in 2015.
Scaccia previously served University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark. as vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer for 15 years. Before his career in higher education, he spent 10 years working in public accounting and banking.
He is currently an active member of the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers and has also served on the boards of the Arkansas Association of College and University Business Officers, the Johnson County (Ark.) Chamber of Commerce, the Johnson County Boys Club, and the Clarksville Lions Club. He has also served as a peer mentor for the Higher Learning Commission.
Scaccia and his wife, Amy, have three sons: Jack, Trevor, and Cooper.
Chief Marketing Officer
Dana Simmons joined Presbyterian College on Oct. 1, 2021, as its first chief marketing officer.
A graduate of Brigham Young University, Simmons was the former director of enrollment communications and operations at Stetson University before joining President Matt vandenBerg’s cabinet last fall.
She began her career in marketing as the e-commerce marketing and search marketing manager for FranklinCovey Co. in Utah. She made her move to higher education in 2006 when she became director of enrollment marketing communications for Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. She also served as director of marketing communications at Western Governors University in Utah before landing at Stetson.
Simmons has creatively led rebranding initiatives and managed strategies across multiple channels in various methods to achieve maximum marketing performance.
She has shared her expertise with many others in the marketing field, including the Capture Higher Education Resolve Conference, the American Association of Colleges Recruitment Admissions Officers, the American Marketing Association, and the RecruitmentPlus Users Conference.
Simmons’ work earned her the Utah American Marketing Association Spotlight of the Month in June 2012, the Presidential Star Award at Westminster College in 2009, and the Summit Award from FranklinCovey in 2005.
She is the mother of two grown children and has two dogs.
Vice President of Human Resources and Title IX
Dr. Terri Tibbs
Terri Tibbs joined Presbyterian College in April 2021 as vice president of human resources and Title IX.
The former associate vice chancellor of human resources at Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, N.C., Tibbs provided campus-wide leadership in the planning and administration of the university’s human resources programs, including participation in the school’s emergency management and employee engagement teams. She was Fayetteville State’s deputy Title IX coordinator, Equal Opportunity officer, diversity and inclusion officer and human resources’ lead for campus re-accreditation and strategic planning committees.
Tibbs co-led campus efforts at Fayetteville State to develop an employee engagement strategy. Planning included enhancing communication, supervisor and manager training and development, and a mechanism for feedback and communication.
Committed to student success, Tibbs championed the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) initiative at Fayetteville State. The initiative increased the awareness and confidence of faculty and staff to respondto their peers and students who may be experiencing mental health crises. She was instrumental in facilitating an onsite MHFA certification of faculty and staff trainers. She also served an adjunct lecturer of human resource management and as an employee relations and training manager.
Tibbs also served as chief of staff at Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, N.C., and as director of corporate human resources and director of human resources at Pactiv in Lake Forest, Ill.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C., and a master’s degree in management science from the State University of New York in Binghamton, N.Y. She also holds numerous professional certifications, including Deputy Title IX Coordinator certification, diversity and inclusion certification from Cornell University, and certification as a mental health first aid facilitator.
The Presbyterian College Board of Trustees is composed of 27 trustees who are charged with the overall governance and shaping of the policies that lead the College in its practices and in reaching its goals.
James H. Barnhardt Jr. ’67
Kenneth R. Couch
White Stone, S.C.
William C. Gaston ’65
Rev. Allen C. McSween
Richard H. Monk
James H. Powell
William B. Shearer, Jr.
Miramar Beach, Fla.