EMU Trustees Hear Upbeat Reports

Tuition deposits for new first-year undergraduates to Eastern Mennonite University are running about seven percent higher than last fall, reported EMU admissions director Stephanie C. Shafer, during the quarterly board of trustees meeting held June 23-24 on campus.

Approximately 50 percent of the expected new students are from the Mennonite Church, the percentage that EMU intentionally seeks.

“While we want to continue attracting a strong number of Mennonite students, we are also eager to recruit students from other faith traditions who want a superb academic environment and who share EMU’s values,” said EMU president Loren E. Swartzendruber.

“I have no doubt that Stephanie could significantly increase admissions numbers if we let her loose to recruit as many students from other denominational groups as possible,” Dr. Swartzendruber said. “But our mission is about building the future of the Mennonite Church, and at this point, we are committed to maintaining a high level of Mennonite student participation, even as we welcome and enroll many students from other faith traditions,” he added.

Kirk Shisler, vice president for advancement at EMU, reported that contributions to the University Fund look good as well, and will almost certainly set a new record by the close of the 2005-06 fiscal year June 30. Total contributions received as of June 28 stood at $6,229,095.

In other news, the trustees voted, with regret, to close the master of arts in education program in Sarasota, Fla., after a two-year period. Provost Beryl H. Brubaker characterized the move as a “disappointing necessity.”

“Recommending an action to discontinue the program is a disappointment to many of us,” Dr. Brubaker told the board. “The students have so appreciated the program, our faculty has enjoyed working in Sarasota over the summers, local leadership wants our presence there to support an Anabaptist emphasis and we would love to serve this Mennonite constituency.” But, she said, “local funds to support the effort have not materialized.”

“It was a wonderful program,” said board member Nora L. Hess of Sarasota, noting that 14 faculty members from Sarasota Christian School graduated from the program this spring. “The school and community have benefited greatly from this,” she noted.

But neither an excellent program, nor the good reputation EMU had established with the state licensing board, were enough to compete with the many other programs available in the area. EMU has arranged for those still enrolled in the program to complete their studies without EMU faculty on site.

Brubaker noted that the Anabaptist Learning Institute of Mennonite Education Association helps to fill gaps where EMU cannot offer programs in every rural, urban or minority setting. The institute allows graduate education majors to take 15 hours of credit through EMU at a satellite location, such as Lancaster, Pa., toward their graduate program. The classes are uniquely geared toward Anabaptist thinking.

Trustees also viewed a presentation by President Swartzendruber regarding ideas and recommendations from architect group Van Yahres Associates of Charlottesville, Va., about creating a defined campus entrance.

“Right now we