President’s Letter: Making an Impact in the Legal Field

July 20th, 2015

Loren Swartzendruber

President Loren Swartzendruber ‘76, MDiv ‘79, DMin

This Crossroads features a remarkable array of alumni and faculty, most of whom majored in one of the classic liberal arts as an undergraduate before embarking on a career path to legal work.

You’ll see a range of opinions and approaches. Pennsylvania Judge Jeremiah Zook ’97, for example, explains why he believes in capital punishment, while restorative justice expert Howard Zehr presents arguments against the death penalty. You’ll learn of three women, trained as lawyers in their home countries with further education at EMU, who have advocated for human rights under dangerous conditions in Papua, Libya and Kenya. You’ll learn that intellectual property law is fascinating, as explained by a patent examiner, two intellectual property lawyers, and an administrative trademark judge.

A decade ago, EMU developed a minor in pre-law as an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental minor. As exemplified by the career paths of many alumni, students can pair various undergraduate majors with their interest in law as steps towards interesting work. A pre-law minor matched with a biology major might lead eventually to a career in environmental protection. One could move from sociology to juvenile justice; from peacebuilding and development to immigration law.

Legal questions surface frequently in the life of our institution, a $35-million enterprise that employs nearly 400 faculty and staff, and educates nearly 2,000 students. Higher education is highly regulated by federal, state and local statutes, regional accreditation requirements, privacy laws, and financial reporting mandates – all of which are complex and regularly changing. EMU has been fortunate to be able to tap the legal expertise of Donald Showalter (see his story on page 7) and his colleague, P. Marshall Yoder. Not only are they highly qualified attorneys, they are alumni who understand the values undergirding the university’s intended actions.

As you peruse the 40 articles and dozens of photographs in these pages – and make plans, we hope, to come to Homecoming and Family Weekend in October – you should know that this magazine marks the departure of Bonnie Price Lofton as EMU’s chief editor since 2006 and the arrival of Lauren Jefferson in that role. Bonnie is heading to a book project she has long contemplated, while Lauren comes with a rich background in newspaper work, plus one master’s degree related to literature and another underway pertaining to education. Working collaboratively for more than a year, the two writer-editors have become friends. Please join me in thanking Bonnie for her years of service and in welcoming Lauren.