Top reads of 2016 include articles on sophomore Mark Loving and the legacy of his great-grandparents, as featured in the movie 'Loving,' and (far right) the naming of Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman as Eastern Mennonite University's ninth president. The photo of Herm dancing with two youngsters at Homecoming and Family Weekend was selected among our top photos of the year. (Photos by Londen Wheeler [left] and Andrew Strack)

EMU’s top 10 most-read news articles and editor’s picks of 2016

As we head into 2017 (!), it’s time for our traditional look back at our news coverage of the past year, when we chronicle our reader favorites. And there are some definite favorites among the more than 236,000 views this year!

Check out our Top Ten Best Photos of 2016, selected by photographer and videography manager Andrew Strack, and a list of Top Ten CJP Reads related to the hard-working folks at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.

Two small horn-tooting celebratory paragraphs before we begin

Allow your news editor two quick horn-tooting celebratory paragraphs, with key phrases in bold if you want to skim: We not only posted more articles in 2016 than ever before, but also gained more readers who, when they click on an article, read pretty much every word.

One reason for this surge in “hits” may be a popular new subscription feature to our weekly news digest, which zooms into inboxes on Tuesday morning and features the “greatest hits” of the week prior. It’s a convenient way to stay on top of EMU news and happenings.

Thank you all for reading!

And now … Top Ten Reads

These 10 headlines drew readers’ attention in the past 12 months:

THIS IMAGE IS RESTRICTED USE! Refer to license agreements in this folder or contact Andrew Strack.
Mark Loving with a photo of his great-grandparents Richard and Mildred Loving. (Photo by Londen Wheeler and Getty Images)

1. Mark Loving on ‘Loving’

By far the most viewed article of the year with more than 5,000 fresh reads and about half that again on Facebook was this profile on sophomore Mark Loving, who graciously shared about the legacy of his great-grandparents, Richard and Mildred Loving, dramatized in the fall 2016 release, “Loving.”

2-4. Presidential search

The EMU community eagerly awaited the results of the long presidential search for Loren Swartzendruber’s replacement, as evidenced by a total of about 4,000 Facebook readers for the series of articles. Sitting second on the most-read list was the naming of Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman as candidate of choice for the university’s ninth president.

Articles about other stages of the process — the naming of Dr. Lee Snyder as interim president and the actual appointment of Huxman —sat at No. 3 and No. 4.

5. Three Yoder Scholars

Our annual coverage of the winners of the Yoder Scholarships garnered more than 1,500 views. Three prospective first-years were awarded the full-tuition scholarship, and we can guess that Ariel Barbosa, Ben Stutzman and Kayla Leaman had a number of fans in their respective hometowns of Towson, Maryland; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Harrisonburg, Virginia. The trio joined a record crowd of incoming Honors scholars in the fall of 2016.

John Woodrum ’84, Gina Troyer ’93 and Jerry Arbogast ’90. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

6. ‘Sports in its purest form: Alumni trio founds unique high school basketball league

This article by intern Justine Nolt featured three popular local educators from nearby Turner Ashby High School in Bridgewater who have created a basketball league for students with and without disabilities. This special crew includes retired athletic director John Woodrum ’84, special education teacher Gina Troyer ‘93 and career and technical education teacher Jerry Arbogast ‘90, who coaches the TAHS squad.

7. Cardiologist Chris Longenecker ’01 finds a niche with HIV/AIDS research in the US and Africa

Photographer Jon Styer ’07 and I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Chris Longenecker in person on our travels through the midwest in spring 2016. I think both of us will always remember sitting in Chris’s office, surrounded by African art, and listening to him talk about his grandfather, a pastor and farmer who had always wanted to be a missionary doctor. Chris, a former Chamber Singer, provided a Suter Science Seminar over Homecoming and Family Weekend, and then serenaded Professor Ken Nafziger, choir director, with other Chamber alumni at Sunday’s worship service.

8. Supporting scientists, graduate spends memorable season at frigid McMurdo Station in Antarctica

Eric King '14 in Antarctica. (Courtesy photo)
Eric King ’14 in Antarctica. (Courtesy photo)

“Cold, windy and always light…” Eric King ‘14 said of his temporary home in Antarctica, “as well as beautiful, mysterious, humbling and inspiring.” King’s first-person account of his life on McMurdo Station, with accompanying photos of the austere but beautiful scenery, neared 1,000 views.

Memorable, too, from an editorial perspective was how many weeks passed, from initial email to final approval. Because his work day was so long and computer time was limited, Eric’s writings and photos arrived in a series of emails, each accompanied by gracious apologies, over several weeks. But, our readers agreed, the prose was lovely and the entire reading experience well-worth the wait.

9. The series on retiring community members, including postal supervisor Betty Hertzler

Betty Hertzler retired in spring 2016 after 41 years in EMU's post office. (Photo by Andrew Strack)
Betty Hertzler retired in spring 2016 after 41 years in EMU’s post office. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

In the spring, retirement receptions are a semi-regular occurrence, during which we here on campus can share in some closure as beloved faculty and staff are recognized, however briefly, for their contributions to EMU. But what about the rest of our community—former colleagues, students and friends no longer close by to attend in these events?

This was my goal for our first-ever series of profiles on retiring faculty and staff (participation voluntary, of course). Happy too was this editor when readers responded: sharing memories and good wishes, and in Betty Hertzler’s case, to wonder publicly what EMU would ever be without her. Many well-wishers and fans also responded on Facebook to news of Dr. Roman Miller’s retirement after 31 years at EMU. Mentor to many alumni in the medical field, Miller founded the MA in Biomedicine program.

  1. Theme housing now and then

Besides a degree, EMU graduates take away the memorable experiences of living together, whether in residence halls, with a cross-cultural group, or in intentional communities such as the renewed “theme housing program.” We think this article, about the current men’s and women’s houses on campus, garnered lots of views and likes because it also referenced the first communal living houses of the early ‘70s, thereby surfacing memories of past mystical worlds in Martin House, Suter House and Birchwood…

Until 2018, happy reading!