Opening Letter: ‘Rebirth and Transition’

May 24th, 2016


From Kay Nussbaum ’78, Chair, Board of Trustees

With spring in full bloom, this issue of Crossroads celebrates rebirth and transition. Dedicated to the theme of education, the magazine is a fitting forum to host a tribute to our leaders in education of the past, present and future.

Fitting too is a new design: Crossroads enters its third decade with an updated look and organization that reflects the diversity of programming and people who make up EMU. It will serve us well as we tell the story of this dynamic university and move closer to our Centennial celebration, 2017-18.

Most importantly, this issue celebrates President Loren Swartzendruber and his 13-year tenure at EMU, as well as the culmination of a search for his successor. I’m delighted to report that Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman, president of Conrad Grebel University College, has been appointed with unanimous affirmation to become EMU’s ninth president.

Between these two leaders, we are fortunate to have yet another gift in the guiding presence of Dr. Lee Snyder, former academic dean and professor. She will lead EMU as interim president from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, at which time Dr. Huxman will assume office.

While president of Bluffton College for 12 years, Lee began collecting thoughts on her journey to leadership. In 2010, she published a memoir, At Powerline and Diamond Hill (Cascadia Publishing House), in which she meditates on the power of education — and her own calling to leadership in Mennonite higher education.

“Good sense, discriminating judgement, a healthy sense of humor, a down-to-earth sensibility, and a spirit of gratitude are essential qualities of an effective leader,” Lee writes.

There is also tiptoeing around the “minefields” of politics and “not yielding to hypocrisy or cynicism,” as well as the “not infrequent in-breaking of joy and surprise – this too was part of the work.”

We hope this issue, too, provides those moments of “in-breaking joy and surprise,” insights into the unique Christ-centered education that has fed us and continues to feed us through our lives, as is evident in the features about our alumni educator-leaders.

In this significant time of transition, we are profoundly grateful for the gifts of institutional leaders who lead with integrity, conviction, commitment, and a clear sense of being a part of God’s redemptive work in the world.