No slowing down in summer

August 29th, 2014

President Loren Swartzendruber '76, MDiv 79, DMin

President Loren Swartzendruber ’76, MDiv 79, DMin

Nat King Cole’s “lazy crazy hazy days of summer” are rarely lazy, definitely crazy, and sometimes hazy at EMU! Some of our friends outside of academia like to tease us with “so what do you do with your time between commencement and the opening day of the fall term?” As this issue of Crossroads confirms, life on campus is hardly slow in the summer.

A significant portion of my energy and time as president is focused outside the institution, most of it dedicated to the task of inviting alumni and friends of EMU to invest in the wonderful opportunity to prepare students to “serve and lead in a global context.” As reported on page 9, strong giving by generous donors has made possible the renovation of the eastern, laboratory section of the Suter Science Center. It has also inspired us to work toward renovating the western section, containing classrooms, a lecture theater, and a natural history museum. On behalf of our students, faculty, and staff, we are grateful to those who have contributed!

In addition to my external work that directly benefits EMU, I am currently serving on three national boards, each of which is doing significant work on behalf of higher education and the larger society. The Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) is an international coalition of approximately 120 Christian colleges. Among other priorities, the CCCU speaks to federal agencies regarding important matters such as religious freedom for Christian institutions.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the accreditation body for colleges in the southeastern region of the United States. SACSCOC board members meet twice annually to review accreditation-visit reports and to make decisions regarding peer institutions. Serving on the board has given me the opportunity to learn about the strengths and challenges of other institutions.

The Evangelical Environmental Network board and staff provide educational materials to encourage Christian stewards to take seriously God’s invitation to care for creation. It is our responsibility to understand and communicate the negative impacts of climate change, which will especially cause significant problems for the most vulnerable populations of our world. I don’t want my grandchildren to ask, “Why didn’t Poppy do something?” Of course, “doing something” includes personal stewardship decisions and encouraging our entire campus toward good stewardship practices.

August 22 marks the 20th anniversary of Eastern Mennonite UNIVERSITY. Then-president Joseph Lapp creatively led us from the “College” name to “University,” along with ushering in new programs and growth, for which we are deeply indebted. Like every university president, I recognize that our accomplishments are the result of a meaningful mission, creative vision, hard work, and support from many contributors. Thank you!

Loren Swartzendruber