Eastern Mennonite University

EMU Announces Presidential Candidate

HARRISONBURG, Va. - The search committee charged with identifying and recommending the next president of Eastern Mennonite University has announced its candidate of choice.

Dr. Loren E. Swartzendruber, currently president of Hesston College, a two-year Mennonite institution in Hesston, Kan., will return to his alma mater on January 23-24, 2003, for meetings with various campus and constituent groups.

EMU President Joseph L. Lapp will leave office June 30, 2003 after a 16-year tenure.

Dr. James Rosenberger of State College, Pa., the search committee chair, said his group "has worked diligently since early summer on finding the next presidential leader for EMU."

The 11-member search committee included representatives from the EMU faculty, staff and students; the trustee board, the Mennonite Educational Agency (MEA) and Mennonite Church USA leaders from the East Coast.

The committee held several open forums on campus this fall and also met with pastors and other church leaders as part of an intensive process of identifying key leadership qualities and qualifications for the next president. The position was advertised in church and secular media outlets to solicit nominations and applications.

Qualities the committee identified as most important included: "A strong Mennonite Anabaptist faith commitment, an effective communicator, a dynamic, decisive decision-maker, an effective fund raiser, strong Mennonite Church connections and a reconciling team-builder."

"Selecting a presidential candidate has been a demanding job, but the committee's working together was marked by a strong sense of commitment and importance of the task," Rosenberger stated. "We were looking for leadership that could take EMU to a new level of service to the church and the world and believe we have found that person in Loren Swartzendruber."

The EMU board of trustees and the Mennonite Education Agency have already given their unanimous endorsement to the committee's selection.

"Providing learning and service opportunities for students in a Christian higher education environment on behalf of the Mennonite Church USA has been, and will continue to be, a high priority for me,"Dr. Swartzendruber said. "I look forward to interaction with the students, faculty and staff of EMU in the process of making a final decision, both for the institution and for myself," he added.

Swartzendruber graduated from EMU in 1976 with a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts and earned a master of divinity degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary in 1979. He received a doctor of ministry degree in church leadership from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2000.

He became president of Hesston College in 1994 after serving 10 years as associate executive secretary of the former Mennonite Board of Education in Elkhart, Ind.

After graduating from EMU, Swartzendruber was an associate director of admissions and part time associate campus pastor at his alma mater. He was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1975 at Lower Deer Creek Mennonite Church near his birthplace of Kalona, Iowa, and was pastor at Salford Mennonite Church, Harleysville, Pa., 1978-83.

Current academic roles include membership and secretary of the Kansas Independent College Association and Kansas Independent College Fund and the American Association of Higher Education. He is a board member the Harvey County (Kan.) Historical Society board of directors and the Hesston Historical Society board of directors. He is a member of the Hesston Mennonite Church.

Swartzendruber is married to Patricia Swartzendruber, an executive vice president for marketing and development at Prairie View, a behavioral health organization in Newton, Kan. The couple has four adult children.

- Jim Bishop, EMU public communications officer