Troy D. VanAken, the 14th president and professor of mathematics at Elmhurst University, is a first-generation college graduate from Hillsdale, Michigan. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics from Bowling Green State University, and a bachelor of science degree from Hillsdale College. 

Before coming to Elmhurst, Dr. VanAken was president and professor of mathematics at Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania. Prior to Thiel, President VanAken served in many executive leadership roles at Albion College in Albion, Michigan, and also was a successful business entrepreneur who owned a number of technology companies. 

Since VanAken arrived at Elmhurst in 2016, the University has seen historic enrollments and record fundraising results, while also achieving a notable increase in the student retention rate and a stable financial foundation on which to build. Under his leadership, Elmhurst College became Elmhurst University in July of 2020. Beginning in May 2021, Elmhurst started to celebrate its 150th year of educating students and preparing them for meaningful lives and careers. 

President VanAken has made diversity, equity and inclusion an institutional priority. In 2019, he became the principal investigator for a $1.75 million National Science Foundation grant to improve success for underrepresented students in STEM fields at Elmhurst and seven partner institutions. That same year, he established the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to deepen the University’s efforts to enhance diversity on campus. In 2020, he established a scholarship to support students from underrepresented groups. 

President VanAken currently serves on the board for Education & Institutional Insurance Administrators and is chair of the Council of Presidents at the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. In addition to his experience as collegiate athletic director, President VanAken has served as a high school football and track coach and has done committee work for the NCAA and several collegiate athletic conferences. Finally, as part of Elmhurst’s goal to become a more global campus, President VanAken has led international recruitment efforts and serves on the advisory boards of educational institutions in Greece and Southeast Asia. 

President VanAken and his wife, Dr. Annette VanAken, have two adult children, Trey and Gabriella.