[an error occurred while processing this directive] This article is from the EMU News Archive. The approximate date of publication was in April 2006. Current EMU news is available at www.emu.edu/news

profiles in giving

Average Student Becomes Stellar Alumnus

If EMU admitted students solely on the basis of academic excellence, a leader in the business community in Lancaster County and a trustee of EMU would have had a different life. And the world would be poorer for it.

In 1991, EMU admitted Andrew ("Andy") Dula (C 91), a young man fresh from a summer with Eastern Mennonite Missions in Honduras and Guatemala. He was also fresh from high school where he says he was an average student, earning "a bunch of B's, a few A's, and some others," while specializing in soccer, basketball, girls, and having the nicest car.

At EMU, though, Andy found himself gradually transformed. "The interaction and integration of Christian faith and vocation begins to get tested and fleshed out at EMU."

Today, as chief financial officer of a major homebuilding company, Andy wrestles with many of the dilemmas first posed to him in his EMU business classes: "the challenges of land development and uses, management of personnel, reporting of financial results, product integrity and quality, customer service, and profit distribution. I continue to be intrigued by how often the ethics of Christian faith and the task of modern-day business management argue with each other inside my head."

Andy met his future wife, Michelle Witmer (C 91), the month they entered Eastern Mennonite in 1987. They married after graduation and made their first donation to EMU in 1992. Today Michelle, a former teacher with a masters degree in education, is a full-time mother to their children, six-year-old Maya and four-year-old Mesa. She's also pursuing a second masters at a seminary. That will make three masters degrees in the family - Andy holds an MBA.

When asked to reflect on the depth of their links to EMU, they like to start with a story about Andy's grandfather, a farmer in rural Ethiopia. "My grandfather sold his only ox - the ox that he used to till and plant the small farm where the family lived - in order to buy a ticket for my father to fly to Nazareth, Ethiopia, where a Mennonite mission had established a high school," says Andy. At the mission Andy's father, Mamo (then age 19), met and married Andy's mother, a Mennonite nurse named Mary Ellen.

Mamo eventually attended Goshen College, followed by pharmacy school at Temple University in Philadelphia. At each stage of his educational journey, Mamo received scholarship assistance for his studies, supplemented by Mary Ellen's earnings as a nurse.

Andy, along with his brother Pete, attended Lancaster Mennonite High School, followed by EMU. "I was planning on attending Goshen College," says Andy, "but EMU awarded me a grant to cover the income I was unable to earn over the summer due to my voluntary service. Had I not gotten that letter from EMU with more financial aid, I would have headed to Goshen."

Michelle says that she and her husband maintain close contact with about 20 of their former classmates at EMU, in addition to rubbing shoulders with about 75 EMU alums each Sunday at their church, Blossom Hill Mennonite in Lancaster.

They give generously to many causes at EMU - to sports through the Loyal Royals, to the training of pastors through the seminary, to peacebuilding through the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, and to building programs around the campus. But most of all they give to the University Fund to provide aid for financially needy students like Mamo and Andy once were.

"You can go to any college or university and get training to be effective in your chosen field of interest," says Andy, adding that EMU must offer more than this.

Crossroads Table of Contents
Back to the table of contents

"We would not be supporting EMU if we didn't feel like the institution is preparing students to have a clear understanding of Anabaptist faith and how it can be articulated clearly and respectfully amongst many other faith perspectives in our world," says Andy.

"This articulation needs to happen in businesses, hospitals, schools and many other places where we find our graduates. We believe the future viability of the Mennonite church will be largely dependent upon our Mennonite educational institutions' ability to pass on a faith that is relevant in any context, invitational to all people, and respectful of other faiths."

Bonnie Price Lofton (G 04)