Dr. Joseph B. Martin (EMU ’59), dean emeritus and professor of neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, points out across Harvard Medical School courtyard with EMU Science Commissioners, Campaign Steering Committee members, EMU trustees, and faculty and staff looking on. Photo by Andrea Schrock Wenger

Harvard Hosts EMU Funding Strategy Meetings for New Science Facility

BOSTON — Harvard Medical School provided the backdrop for a historic gathering intended to generate lead funding strategies for Eastern Mennonite University’s $30 million capital campaign to create new science labs and to renovate the existing Suter Science Center. Some 35 science commissioners, campaign steering committee members, trustees, faculty and staff were hosted by EMU alumnus Dr. Joseph B. Martin (EMU ’59), dean emeritus and professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.

The one-day event included a tour of the Harvard Medical School facilities in Boston, Mass., and the Broad Institute, a collaborative research effort of Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Broad Family Foundation, in Cambridge.

Historic gathering

“This is a historic gathering,” said President Loren Swartzendruber, DMin (EMU ’76 and ’79) in his opening comments. “Never before has such a diverse group of leaders – alumni who have achieved great success in their fields along with business, industry, science and other leaders – come together to think about something this big and transformational for EMU.”

Harvard Dean on EMU

“My time at EMU was most formative in my personal and professional journey,” said Dr. Martin, reflecting on the year he took off from the University of Alberta to study Bible and ethics at then Eastern Mennonite College. “The opportunity to study ethics and broaden my horizons beyond my small Mennonite community proved invaluable.” He noted that the collaboration occurring at EMU and with these leaders was similar to the collaboration that had to occur for the Harvard Medical School expansion under his tenure.

EMU accepted Dr. Martin’s invitation to host the gathering because “it seemed important to us to see what can happen when people who are well trained in the sciences have facilities in which they can thrive,” said President Loren Swartzendruber.

“Dr. Martin is one example of hundreds of EMU science alumni who are making a real difference in this world. While these facilities are not a scale to which EMU aspires, we do believe that new labs and a renovated building at the appropriate scale, can facilitate our ongoing exceptional program.”

EMU’s current Suter Science Center, built more than 40 years ago, “does not do justice to the quality of faculty and program of study we offer,” he said.

Leadership phase

EMU is currently in the leadership phase of its campaign for the new and renovated science facilities at EMU, noted Kirk Shisler (EMU ’81), vice president for advancement. It is a time to focus on lead gifts toward the anticipated $30 million needed to complete two phases. The first phase will include construction of a new 50,000 square foot lab facility to better support the collaborative original research EMU science students complete with professors; renovation of the existing Suter Science Center will follow.

“We are in a time of burgeoning potential,” said Shisler, noting that as EMU has ramped up communications about the campaign, spontaneous unsolicited gifts are coming in for the campaign.

While these gifts are encouraging and exciting, and currently total nearly $2 million in gifts and pledges, the focus of the day’s gathering was on establishing momentum toward gifts in the top tier of the strategic funding plan, gifts and commitments in the $500,000 to $10 million range.

Broad Institute tour

The afternoon’s visit to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard provided an opportunity for participants to see the country’s top collaborative multidisciplinary research facility. The group heard about the institute’s vision and structures, and a presentation by geneticist Stacey Gilbert, PhD, about her genetic research among Mennonite populations in Lancaster County, Pa.

Open floor plans, glass walls, entire walls and glass office windows that serve as “white boards,” and community space all inspire creativity, innovation and collaboration, explained Michael Foley, PhD, director of the chemical biology platform at Broad. “We’re here to help you in whatever way we can as you plan your facility,” he told the group.

Closing comments

The recent announcement that President Loren Swartzendruber has accepted an invitation to a third four-year term in his role as president is good news for this project as affirmed by Dr. Martin, EMU trustee Dr. Paul R. Yoder, Jr., (’65) and EMU board chair Andrew Dula (’92). Each of them noted the integrity with which President Swartzendruber serves, the level of trust in his leadership, and the momentum he and his team have established for the campaign.

Acknowledging their supportive comments, Swartzendruber noted, “Bringing this campaign to a successful conclusion is my number one goal for these next four years.”

Members of the EMU Board of Trustees, Commission for the Sciences, and Suter Science Complex Campaign Steering Committee gather on the front steps of Harvard Medical School along with EMU faculty and staff.

In the photo:

First row, left to right: Greta Ann Herin, PhD, EMU associate professor of biology; Provost Fred Kniss, PhD (EMU ’79); Dr. Todd Weaver (EMU ’87), Weaver, Reckner, Reinhart Dental Associates; EMU trustee Anne Kaufman Weaver (EMU 88), leadership coach, Coaching Connection, Brownstown, Pa.; Joe Paxton, county administrator, Rockingham County, Va.; Phil Helmuth (EMU ’76) executive director of development for; Carol Yoder, (EMU ’63 ) civic leader/ volunteer; Charlotte Rosenberger (EMU ’65) civic leader/volunteer, Blooming Glen, Pa.; Pat Swartzendruber, EMU advocate and church-wide leader.

Second row, left to right: Doug Mason, advancement consultant, Gonser, Gerber, Tinker, Stuhr, LLP, Naperville, Ill.; EMU trustee Evon Bergey, general manager, Magellan Health Services, Perkasie, Pa.; Dr. Krishna Kodukula, executive director, CADRE, Biosciences Division, SRI Shenandoah Valley; Dr. Joseph B. Martin (EMU ’59), dean emeritus and professor of neurobiology, Harvard Medical School; John “Roc” Rocovich, Jr., attorney, Moss & Rocovich and founder and chairman of Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Blacksburg, Va.; EMU President Loren Swartzendruber, DMin (EMU ’76 and ’79); Joyce Bontrager Lehman (EMU ’65), program officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, Wash.; Bob Hostetler, PhD (EMU 59), campaign co-chair, professor emeritus mathematics, Pennsylvania State University;  Gerry Horst, campaign co-chair and president, Horst & Sons, Inc., New Holland, Pa.; Kirk Shisler (EMU ’81), vice president for advancement;  Laura Daily, assistant for advancement.

Third row, left to right: Doug Hostetler, Hostetler & Church, LLC, Clarksville, Md.; Roman Miller, PhD, EMU professor of biology/Daniel B. Suter Endowed Chair, Doug Graber Neufeld, PhD, EMU professor of biology; Mark Grimaldi (EMU ’94), president of Equinox Chemical Company, Albany, Ga.; Andrew Dula (EMU ’91), chair, EMU Board of Trustees and CFO,  EG Stoltzfus Inc.; EMU trustee Kay Nussbaum (EMU ’78), partner, The MVP Group, of White Bear Lake, Minn.; Henry Rosenberger (EMU ’67) farmer and sustainability entrepreneur; Dr. Paul R. Yoder, Jr. (EMU ’63) Rockingham Eye Physicians, Harrisonburg, Va., and EMU trustee; Knox Singleton, CEO Inova Health Systems, Falls Church, Va.