EMU’s Valley Impact: Jobs, Millions, Leaders

Business Owner, President Tout School’s Role, Future

By Dan Wright, Daily News-Record

One of the things Karl Stoltzfus learned at EMU was to do the math.

A statistics class taught the 1972 graduate and founder of Dynamic Aviation to mitigate risk in a high-risk business.

“What’s the statistical probability of something happening?” Stoltzfus asked. “Then, how many factors can you set in place to mitigate against that happening?”

EMU alum Karl Stoltzfus and Loren Swartzendruber, president of EMU
EMU President Loren Swartzendruber (right) and EMU graduate and founder of Dynamic Aviation Karl Stoltzfus chat after the Harrisonburg Rockingham Business & Professional Club Annual Appreciation Luncheon Friday. Photo by Michael Reilly

Stoltzfus spoke Friday to about 70 members of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Business & Professional Club, which partners with EMU.

As an example of risk mitigation, he cited the company’s decision to fly only multiengine aircraft. If one engine fails, the aircraft is capable of flying to the next airport.

If a single-engine aircraft loses its engine, you have what Stoltzfus calls an “off-airport emergency landing.”

Stoltzfus estimates that over a 15-year period his company avoided seven to 12 off-airport emergency landings by not flying single-engine aircraft.

“We fly a lot at night. We fly over the world’s most dense rain forest in southern Panama,” he said. “We don’t want an airplane flying over that terrain with one engine.”

Funding Priorities

Before Stoltzfus spoke, EMU President Loren Swartzendruber summarized some funding priorities as the university prepares to launch a capital campaign.

EMU should increase annual contributions to the University Fund by 7 percent annually over the next five years, with a goal of $1.9 million.

The university’s endowment fund needs to be increased from $24 million to $40 million by 2014.

“Twenty-four million dollars is too small for an institution [with an enrollment of 1,600],” Swartzendruber said.

New science labs and renovation of Suter Science Center will require $30 million in contributions and grants, he added.

Renovation of the University Commons will cost $8.3 million, and an alumnus has contributed $3 million as a matching gift.

Celebrating its 90th anniversary, EMU is among Harrisonburg’s top 10 employers, with a work force of 360 people.

Each year, the university spends $16 million on salaries and benefits and pumps $21 million into the Shenandoah Valley’s economy.

Over its 90-year history, 20,000 teachers, nurses, social workers and business leaders have graduated from EMU, Swartzendruber said.

“EMU does have an economic impact on this community,” he added.

EMU At A Glance

  • Founded 1917
  • Enrollment 1,600
  • Faculty & Staff 360
  • Payroll $16.3 million
  • Annual budget $28 million
  • Economic Impact on the Shenandoah Valley $21 million