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President Emily Messer puts students first

Dr.+Messer+spends+time+getting+to+know+the+community.++%0A%0APhoto+courtesy+Texas+Wesleyan+University
Dr. Messer spends time getting to know the community. Photo courtesy Texas Wesleyan University

Coming from a background in student affairs, enrolment and advancement, Dr. Emily Messer joined the Texas Wesleyan Community as our 21st president on July 1.  

Before she arrived at Texas Wesleyan, Messer’s story began in a small town in Alabama, where she was born and raised. She pursued her higher education at Jacksonville State University and became deeply involved on campus.  

As an undergraduate student, she wore many hats, from being a member of a sorority and an orientation leader to serving as the Student Government Association president.  

It was during that time when I realized, I wanted to work in higher education,” Messer said.  

A chance encounter with her husband at a mixer with a unique theme, “When I Grow Up,” revealed her ambition to become a university president, setting her long-term goals in motion. She continued her academic journey by earning a master’s degree from Jacksonville State University.  

Messer is no stranger to working in a smaller, smarter environment. After completing her master’s degree, Messer’s career took her to Rome, Georgia, where she worked at a smaller private university. 

“That’s where I really fell in love with working at a small private institution,” Messer said. “You really got to know the faculty, staff and students because it’s like one little close-knit family.” 

Dr. Emily Messer brings a fresh perspective to Texas Wesleyan as the school’s 21st president. Photo courtesy Texas Wesleyan University

During her tenure at Shorter University, she realized her passion for building relationships and fundraising. It was here that her love for supporting students through scholarships and contributing to the growth of higher education institutions flourished.  

“I love how she’s student centred,” Sherry Sandles said, Texas Wesleyan’s executive assistant to the president, Sherry Sandles.  

Messer eventually returned to Alabama where she earned her doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Alabama. After receiving her doctorate degree, Messer took on a position at Jacksonville State where she transitioned from working in student affairs and enrolment to university advancement. 

“That was surreal to be able to serve at my home institution,” Messer said.  

Years of experience culminated together to bring her to the position she in in today. Since becoming the president of the Texas Wesleyan, Messer has spent her time getting to know the community.  

“She’s trying to get, not get to know, not only the faculty and staff, but there’s a lot of community people she has to get to know,” Sandles said. “So, her calendar is very busy, but the moment she has a break, it could be 15 minutes, she’s walking the campus; she’s going to the Martin University Center. She’s going to Dora’s; she’s just walking and talking to students.” 

Messer said she plans to host a listening session to better understand the needs and visions of students. She intends to meet with small student groups, engage with students in casual settings such as the dining hall, and be an approachable leader. 

Her desire to put students first is noticed by Student Government pPresident Brooklyn Rowe.  

“She is at all of these events where she is accessible to the students because it’s what she wants and she’s meeting with the board of trustees, with sponsors, with donors all the time to ensure that we all have the same best interest for the students,” Rowe said. “So, you can tell she’s very student centred and it’s showing.”  

Messer hopes to make a difference in the lives of those at Texas Wesleyan. It is her passion for touching lives that drives her to work in higher education.  

“I want to be supportive of the entire campus and the student body and their needs and their desires,” Messer said.  

She encourages students to make the most of their years in college and develop meaningful relationships.  

“I’ve made it to where I am today because of the relationships I’ve had, whether it’s intentional networking or happenstance networking, it’s invaluable,” Messer said. 

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About the Contributor
Chiara Watson, Editor-in-Chief
Chiara Watson is an international student at Texas Wesleyan University, born and raised in Johannesburg South Africa. As Editor-in-Chief for the Rambler Media Group, she loves the idea of connecting with the students, parents, faculty and staff at Wesleyan through her writing. Chiara loves a good story, whether it comes in the form of a book, film, poem, or song, and is excited to share the stories closest to the hearts and minds of the Texas Wesleyan community.

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