Eastern Mennonite University announces structural leadership changes

Eastern Mennonite University President’s Cabinet, with the support of the Board of Trustees, announces a new organizational structure.

These changes, which focus on enrollment and graduate studies, including Eastern Mennonite Seminary, will take place beginning July 1, 2016.

“University leadership believes these internal changes will position us well to maximize efficiencies and build financial stability,” said Provost Fred Kniss. “Rather than embarking on a national search for a new vice president of enrollment at the same time as we are moving through presidential transitions, we believe a better action is to leverage our internal strengths and to work with the tremendous leadership assets here on campus who have been an integral part of our strategic design process over the past several years.”

The restructuring will aid in focusing on the university’s first strategic priority: increasing traditional undergraduate enrollment to 1,200 by 2020, Kniss said.

Eastern Mennonite University’s traditional undergraduate first-year enrollment for the 2015-16 academic year was its highest in several decades, while graduate programs recorded a 26.4 percent increase in enrollment. Total traditional undergraduate enrollment for 2015-16 was 945.

“As we approach our centennial year, EMU continues to thrive and change,” said Kay Nussbaum, Board of Trustees chair. “Speaking on behalf of the Board of Trustees, we endorse these organizational changes, made with the goal of advancing our strategic objectives and creating more cohesiveness across our academic and administrative divisions.”

Key changes

The vice president for enrollment position has been expanded to include oversight over areas of undergraduate admissions and financial aid, as well as graduate enrollment.

In addition, connecting recruitment efforts across departments, this administrator will also oversee the athletics division and jointly oversee the marketing and communications department with the vice president of advancement.

Jim Smucker, current vice president and dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, will transition to this position.

A second structural change consolidates oversight of all graduate studies programs. Michael King, current vice president and dean of Eastern Mennonite Seminary, will add to his portfolio leadership of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.

Two associate deans will support King. As was announced in the spring, Nancy Heisey, professor of Bible and religion, will become associate dean of Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

Sue Cockley, director of adult learning programs in Harrisonburg and director of the MA in Organizational Leadership program, will move into the position of associate dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.

“These leaders have already contributed to the shape and vision of the university, and we’re confident they will provide strong and dynamic leadership for EMU’s mission in the years to come,” said Nussbaum.

“These structural changes will support EMU’s vision of being a community of learning by permitting greater collaboration and synergy across graduate divisions and between the academic, athletic and enrollment divisions,” said Kniss.

EMU, which celebrates its centennial in 2017, is in the midst of a presidential transition. President Loren Swartzendruber retires June 30 after 13 years of service at the university. Interim President Lee Snyder, former dean at EMU and former president of Bluffton University, will play an active role in implementing the announced structural changes.

Incoming President Susan Schultz Huxman, who starts Jan. 1, 2017, is supportive of the changes, Nussbaum said.