Eight months after Otterbein President Kathy Krendl announced her impending retirement, John Comerford was introduced as the university's 21st president on April 24.

Comerford is the president of Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois, and will begin his tenure July 1 when Krendl's retirement begins.

At his introduction, Comerford said he was interested in Otterbein because its approach was "different" and "better" than other schools.

"This place was forging its own path, and that's what compelled me to join you," he said.

Comerford was hired after an eight-month search conducted by a 12-person search committee assembled by Otterbein. The committee included representatives of Otterbein students, faculty, staff, administrators and others in the Westerville community.

The university had nearly 80 applicants, and Mark Thresher, chair of the Otterbein Board of Trustees and CFO of Nationwide, said in a release that Comerford led the pack from the onset.

"We had a wealth of highly qualified candidates who applied for the position, but John Comerford stood out from the start," he said. "His proven commitment to inclusion, innovation, access and affordability closely align with Otterbein's values while his experience promises to advance Otterbein in these areas and others."

Comerford said he believes diversity and acceptance are important for universities.

He cited Otterbein's history as a school that allowed admittance to women, minorities and foreign students earlier than many other schools, and he also called Otterbein a "model community."

"You are welcomed to this community as you are, and everyone can find a home here," he said. "That's compelling to me."

He also praised the school for its lack of tuition increases and said "access to college education ought not be just for those who have wealth."

"I know Otterbein believes that, by holding tuition steady for five years in a row, which is a remarkable commitment," he said.

Comerford, who began his tenure at Blackburn in 2013, previously served as vice president for student life and vice president for institutional advancement at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, from 2005 and 2013.

He also has held positions at Missouri Western State College and Ball State University and has a doctorate degree in higher education from the University of Kansas to go along with master's in student personnel administration and a bachelor's in political science.