President’s Letter: Enter the Story

June 1st, 2017

Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman

One hundred years ago, Mennonites in the East had a bold, faith-inspired dream to start a school in Virginia. What a dream! What an act of faithfulness.

It all began in 1917, when a timely advertisement was placed in the Gospel Herald with the high hopes of creating great interest among Mennonite students:

Announcement is herewith made that the Eastern Mennonite School at Assembly Park near Harrisonburg, Va., will be ready, the Lord willing, for students to matriculate for the opening exercises on October 9, 1917.

The Lord was willing! From 40 students in 1917 to nearly 2,000 students today, here we are, poised to celebrate a centennial.

I am honored and humbled to lead this Christ-centered university into its second century. Five months into the job, I can say it has been immersive and invigorating. I am here because I am a fervent believer in Mennonite education that connects head, heart and hands in a particularly distinctive and attractive way. I am here because EMU is a premier Christian university that has made peacemaking, formation and cross-cultural encounter its liberal arts core. That precious EMU distinctive radiates around the globe.

Over the course of the next year, as a university community, we want to cherish our founding and what has occurred in the dash of its first century, 1917-2017. With grateful hearts, we take sustenance from our past, the school’s humble origins and its mission as a Christian school steeped in Mennonite values of discipleship, service, community and peacemaking.

“Serving. Leading. Transforming.” – the theme of Eastern Mennonite University’s Centennial year – marks the transformation of a quiet school on a hill meant to protect its students from the world, into a place that prepares graduates to engage with the world and all its complexities. This issue offers a look back, through photographs and chronology, and through objects (we call them “artifacts”) both old and new – that bring alive the varied richness of our history. It celebrates the many people who were part of this experiment in Mennonite education and how it evolved over 100 years. You know the old African proverb: “If you inherit land, you have to farm it; if you inherit a story, you have to tell it.” We encourage you to share your stories about how EMU transformed your life at too! Enjoy this special Centennial issue prepared by our dedicated marketing and communications staff. And Enter the Story!