President’s letter: On Living, worshipping, volunteering, working, playing, in the Valley

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President Loren Swartzendruber ’76, MDiv ’79, DMin, addresses the 2014 Walk for Hope gathering. (Photo by Michael Sheeler)

I meet many strangers on airplanes while traveling for EMU, and inevitably we ask each other, “Where do you live?” “I’m from the Shenandoah Valley,” always draws a positive and envious response, even if the person has never visited Virginia. “What a beautiful area of the country!”

This issue of Crossroads shares the stories of many EMU alumni who live, worship, work, volunteer and play in the Valley. A majority of them, like me, were born and raised in another state or country. We came to this small university nestled between two mountain ranges, fell in love with the region, and made this our home. Very few communities of this size are blessed with the presence of four institutions of higher education. Along with the alumni of James Madison University, Bridgewater College, and Blue Ridge Community College, EMU’s alumni contribute immeasurably to the quality of life throughout the area and Commonwealth.

Perhaps we should start an annual tradition of “wear your school colors” to work as a way of visually communicating the alumni impact of EMU and our fellow institutions. Of course, many professionals have received degrees from more than one of the colleges. I’ve met a few folks who have been involved in all four as students or faculty.

While the 2013-14 academic year at EMU will long be remembered as the year we “listened” regarding our hiring policy relative to individuals in same-sex relationships, the reality is that our imprint is far greater than any single issue that can so easily divide us. No matter the outcome of our listening process, EMU alumni will always share their gifts for the common good of the Shenandoah Valley.

Loren Swartzendruber
President
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