Eastern Mennonite University

Spring 2008

Reality-Based and FUN... That's Business at EMU

Terry Whitmore
Terry Whitmore '70

Ask him about managing business, learning business, teaching business - about what works and what doesn’t - and then enjoy the stories. Terry Whitmore has been around.

He got his undergraduate degree from EMU. Sociology, class of 1970. He encouraged his wife Jennifer to get her degree too. She did so at EMU in 2002, after almost two years of night classes in management and organizational development.

Terry earned an MBA from a large state-supported university, a place where he has since taught marketing; he has also taught business at a community college.

These days Terry teaches courses in EMU’s business department as well as in the Adult Degree Completion Program, which he helped start in 1995. Terry also served as an advisor in launching EMU’s MBA program in 1999.

The teaching is part-time. For his “day job,” Terry helps his father run the family business, E & M Auto Paint & Supply Corporation in Harrisonburg.

Chris Gingerich, business professor
Chris Gingrich, business professor Anthony Smith, MBA co-director
Anthony Smith, MBA co-director Ron Stoltzfus, MBA co-director
Ron Stoltzfus, MBA co-director

“I tell my people and my students, ‘You can make the numbers and trash the people.’ My approach is if you get the relationships right, the business will unfold. It’s not that hard to make money.” Which is why he likes teaching at EMU more than at the big state-supported university or the community college. He thinks EMU “gets it.” Instead of simply teaching accounting, finance, economics and other courses focused on maximizing the value of the enterprise, Terry says that EMU’s professors know that “people skills” and “ethical principles” will have a bigger impact on one’s life and business over the long run.

“What is most appealing to me about EMU is its emphasis on real-life learning, positive relationships, integrating diversity, and having a sense of community and connectedness,” says Terry. “The combination offers an enormously powerful message.”

Terry and Jennifer Whitmore aren’t Mennonite. Like about half of the graduates these days, this couple likes Mennonite-style Christianity and education, but aren’t Mennonites themselves.

Referring to Terry’s list of EMU positives, economics professor Dr. Chris Gingrich points out that it’s easier to forge relationships when your class is small, taught by a professor who knows you personally and who can give you a custom-tailored reference when you need it. “Some of my students do research with me; Carmen Horst (’01) published an article with me,” says Gingrich.

“But we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” he adds. “We have a lot of fun in the classroom. We also joke about our hobbies and sports. There’s give and take. We sometimes learn something through playing games.”

In the MBA program, co-director Dr. Tony Smith says students become close to one another as a result of EMU’s cohort model in which a group enters and finishes together: “A real estate broker with a health care professional, next to a book distributor, by a banker… It sure makes discussions interesting!”

“They learn from each other as much as they learn from us,” adds Dr. Ron Stoltzfus, the other MBA director, who has taught accounting at EMU since 1984.

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