Trustees Approve Building Plans, Academic Changes

The walls will soon come tumblin’ down.

Oakwood residence hall at EMU, beloved by many alumni as an enclave for male pranksters, located on the quad adjacent to Maplewood and Elmwood residences, will be demolished late August. A new 120-room residence hall will replace Oakwood with a projected budget of $6 million.

The EMU board of trustees approved the building plans as part of its June 27-28 meeting on campus.

EMU's Oakwood Residence Hall, scheduled for demolition August 2008
Oakwood Residence Hall, scheduled for demolition in August 2008. (Photo by Marcy Gineris)

The trustees also authorized staff to renovate Elmwood and Maplewood residence halls – including adding a “link” between the buildings if funding permits – with final approval of plans expected by June 2009.

“Campus housing is important in creating a positive social climate for student learning,” said Ken L. Nafziger, vice president for student life.

“Replacing Oakwood and remodeling or upgrading other residence facilities affords an exciting opportunity to tie these efforts into our campus-wide focus on creation care and sustainability.” One aspect of that: A covered bike storage area sufficient for 64 bicycles.

EMU anticipates demolition in August. The exact date is yet to be finalized, but it may include an open house “sleepover” for alumni who want one last night in the “hallowed halls” and a first swing with a sledgehammer the following morning, according to Douglas J. Nyce, director of EMU alumni-parent relations. Read more on the end of Oakwood…

Academic changes

In other business, the board approved a recommendation from the academics committee to combine the undergraduate justice, peace and conflict studies (JPCS) and applied sociology majors into one new major, “peacebuilding and development,” beginning fall 2009.

This 45 semester-hour major provides an Anabaptist-influenced framework for understanding social justice and intentional social change within the context of the fields of peacebuilding and development. By integrating foundational theoretical knowledge, interdisciplinary and experiential learning and skills development, the major prepares students for professional employment (practice) in social justice and social change.

The major embodies EMU’s stated mission to live out Anabaptist Christian convictions by following Jesus’ call to ‘witness faithfully, serve compassionately, and walk boldly in the way of nonviolence and peace,'” as called for in EMU’s vision statement, which was also updated at this meeting (full newly-adopted statement can be seen at

The board also approved a recommendation to add a non-profit entrepreneurial management concentration in the master of business administration (MBA) program. A certificate in the same area will also be offered jointly with EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP).

“Non-profit management is a natural area for a Mennonite institution,” outgoing Provost Beryl H. Brubaker told the board. “It will bring added value to our program and is of great interest to our CJP students who often leave EMU to manage non-government organizations (NGOs) in the peacebuilding arena.”

Seminary growth in Lancaster, Pa.

Trustee Linford King, chair of the seminary committee, reported that the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) had just given final approval for Eastern Mennonite Seminary to offer the full master of divinity degree (MDiv) degree at EMU’s Lancaster, Pa., extension site.

“This is a major step forward to be able to provide this opportunity for theological study for many persons who are unable to move to Harrisonburg,” King said.

Provost retires

Dr. Brubaker was feted at a dinner meeting – that included some former trustees and faculty colleagues – for her “37 years of distinguished service” to the university as a nursing department faculty member and department chair and other administrative roles.

While she is retiring as provost, Brubaker will continue to work part time in coordinating the university’s reaccreditation process for another 10 year period by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

A long-time friend surprised Brubaker by pledging $50,000 to fund the Beryl Hartzler Brubaker Endowed Scholarship for nursing students at EMU.