Briar Cliff University Announces 13th President

June 11, 2024

Briar Cliff University’s Board of Trustees announced Dr. Matthew J. Draud as the University’s 13th President. He will relocate to the Siouxland area from Abilene, Texas, where he most recently served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs at McMurry University. He will begin his presidential responsibilities on July 1, 2024. 


Briar Cliff University launched a nationwide presidential search in January 2024. Four finalists, including Draud, were invited to campus to interview with the Presidential Search Committee, which consisted of Briar Cliff faculty, staff, students, and board members. 


"We are excited to welcome Dr. Matthew Draud as the 13th president of Briar Cliff University,” said Board Chair Steve Stouffer. “His extensive experience in academic leadership and his commitment to innovation make him the ideal choice to guide Briar Cliff into a promising future. We look forward to welcoming him to the Briar Cliff and Siouxland community.” 


A distinguished academic leader with over 20 years of administrative experience in higher education, Draud began his career as a full-time faculty member at Long Island University in 1997, achieving tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 2003 and becoming Chair of the biology department, a position he held for 10 years. Promoted to Professor in 2009, Draud has published extensively in animal behavior and ecology. In 2013, he became a tenured Professor and Department Head at Armstrong State University, supervising a large faculty and student body. He later served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Siena Heights University and, in 2020, became Vice President for Academic Affairs at McMurry University. He has overseen significant growth and innovation, established new academic programs, and played a key role in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. He has also been instrumental in securing substantial gifts to support student success. 


Draud received a Doctor of Philosophy from Lehigh University, a Master of Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and a Bachelor of Arts from Thomas More University, all within the Department of Biology. He has been involved in leadership development with the Future Presidents Intensive Educational Advisory Board, engaged in service, and has been published in several articles and a book. 


"I am deeply honored to become the 13th president of Briar Cliff University,” said Draud. “I am inspired by the faculty, staff, and leadership team's dedication to Briar Cliff's mission and their passion for serving our students. I look forward to collaborating with this exceptional community to innovate and create a strong and resilient university as we approach our centennial celebration in 2030." 


Interim President Steven Freeman, a 1969 Briar Cliff alumnus, Board Chair Emeritus, and retired business professional, will remain at Briar Cliff University and continue to serve as a presidential advisor to Draud to ensure a smooth and supportive transition.