A Michigan college president with a background in increasing enrollment and building partnerships with corporations will become the new leader of Rosemont College, school officials announced Tuesday.

Jayson Boyers, 48, has been president of Cleary University, a business school in Howell, Mich., for the last four years. He becomes the first male to lead Rosemont, a small Catholic liberal arts college — and an all-women school until 2009 — in its nearly 100-year history.

He begins in July, replacing Sharon Latchaw Hirsh, who will retire this summer.

» READ MORE: Longtime Rosemont College president Sharon Latchaw Hirsh to retire next year

“This is a dream of mine, to lead an institution like Rosemont,” said Boyers, who is Catholic and attended Catholic colleges for his graduate work. “Work is a way we express our faith, our core values.”

He comes to Rosemont at a time when colleges nationally have been struggling to meet enrollment targets, amid a decline in high school graduates. With an undergraduate and graduate enrollment of 945 and a $20 million endowment, Rosemont in recent years reset its tuition to attract more middle-class students — this year, it’s $19,500 — and sought to appeal to a wider pool by scrapping a requirement that students submit standardized test scores.

At Cleary, Boyers focused on creating partnerships with corporations, including one with TEAM Schostak, a regional restaurant company, that gave its workers free tuition to Cleary programs. Creating such partnerships is key to a college’s success, he said, noting the boom in nontraditional students beyond the typical 18-to-22-year-old range.

Under Boyers’ leadership, enrollment grew from 693 in 2016-17 to 858 in 2018-19, a 24% increase.

“A college has to focus on the unique value it brings and find ways to extend that value proposition to other populations,” he said.

Rosemont has been adding partnerships and growing programs for professional and graduate students, which have about the same enrollment as Rosemont’s traditional undergraduates. Boyers said he hopes to further that work.

» READ MORE: Enrollment rises at Rosemont after tuition price cut

“I will definitely be looking to work with corporations and work in communities to help train and meet skills gaps,” he said.

Boyers grew up in Defiance, Ohio, and didn’t start out to be an academic. He became a youth minister out of high school. Then he decided to go to college, the first in his family to do so.

He has degrees from the University of Indianapolis, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, and Creighton University, and also has a background in online education. Before coming to Cleary, he served as vice president and managing director of continuing professional studies, national online division, for Champlain College in Vermont. He also previously worked at Harrison College in Indiana for eight years and helped a foundation form a school for kids with word processing difficulties.

» READ MORE: More local colleges are slashing SAT requirement

Maria Feeley, chair of Rosemont’s board of trustees, said Boyers’ passion for Rosemont’s mission, experience as a first-generation college student, proven track record as a college president, and inspiring personality attracted the board.

He understands “it’s not business as usual” in today’s challenging higher education environment, she said, which gave the board confidence.

“We don’t want him to feel tied down by any of the traditional thought processes that 15 or 20 years ago might shape what a president does,” said Feeley, vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the University of Hartford.

Boyers’ wife, Mandy, is a dragon boat racer, a hobby that has taken the couple around the world for competitions. She also works remotely as a contract employee on a survey conducted by Bryn Mawr College. She’s never set foot on Bryn Mawr’s campus, but she probably will now, given its proximity to Rosemont.