Following retirement announcement, interim leadership changes planned for Eastern Mennonite Seminary and graduate school

Eastern Mennonite University announces several changes in leadership to Eastern Mennonite Seminary and the School of Graduate and Professional Studies beginning July 1, 2017.

These changes come with the March 13 retirement announcement of Michael A. King, current vice president and dean of Eastern Mennonite Seminary and the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. King’s tenure, which included oversight of programs offered at the Harrisonburg campus and Lancaster (Pa.) site, will end June 30, 2017.

Dr. Fred Kniss, provost, will become interim dean of the seminary. Dr. Sue Cockley, associate dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, will move into the school’s interim dean position.

President Susan Schultz Huxman shared her support for the new appointees. “Fred has an excellent track record in positioning units at EMU to thrive, including our Lancaster site. His understanding of the higher education landscape, market forces, and budgetary realities will be a real asset as we discern together leadership direction for our seminary. I’m also pleased that Sue will step into this new leadership role, as she’s provided capable direction for the graduate school as associate dean for nearly a year.”

Dr. Huxman noted that EMU’s founding as an institution of Anabaptist education began in 1917 with a “Special Bible Term.”

“These changes symbolize our unique position as we enter our second century,” said Huxman, noting EMU’s Centennial during 2017-18. “While we are ready to look boldly into the future regarding fruitful and dynamic seminary-university partnership at EMU, we want to make sure this envisioning both honors our legacy and includes our valued church constituency before recruiting the seminary’s new leader.”

Dr. Nancy Heisey will continue in her role as the seminary’s associate dean, which she has held since August 2016. “We are grateful for her continued, able leadership of the day-to-day operations which she already manages so very well,” Huxman said.

EMU’s graduate programs, which serve more than 400 students, continue to thrive, Huxman said. “The addition of the Doctor of Nursing practice program in January 2018 shows that our extensive and diverse graduate programs are in demand, preparing developing leaders to transform their communities and workplaces.”

Both Huxman and Kniss praised King’s leadership over the past seven years. “We are deeply indebted to Michael’s careful tending to the growth of a vibrant community of scholars at EMS,” Huxman said.

A significant development was the approval of the seminary in 2012 by The United Methodist Church (UMC) to prepare candidates for ordination. This partnership with Wesley Theological Seminary earned renewed quadrennial approval in 2014.

King has also supported EMS’s unique new academic offerings. Since 2014, several seminarians have earned dual degrees, opting to meld master’s of divinity studies with complementary coursework in EMU’s distinctive programs in counseling, business or conflict transformation.

Additionally, King has hired and supported a diverse group of young faculty members “who brought outstanding teaching and scholarly gifts while enhancing the gender, racial and denominational diversity of the seminary faculty,” as well as “expanded collaboration between the seminary and the broader university,” said Kniss.


Eastern Mennonite Seminary, formally established in 1965, is the graduate theological division of Eastern Mennonite University, located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Linked to Mennonite Church USA, the seminary also trains candidates for ordination in the United Methodist Church and serves students of all denominations with a variety of academic degree and certificate programs. The seminary has been accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada since 1986. As an Anabaptist seminary, EMS has special emphasis in peacebuilding, biblical studies, spiritual formation and theology.

Eastern Mennonite University’s School for Graduate and Professional Studies serves more than 400 students in 11 programs at the Harrisonburg campus and in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Those programs include biomedicine, counseling, healthcare management, education, interdisciplinary studies, MBA, nursing and organizational leadership. Graduate degrees in conflict transformation and restorative justice are offered through EMU’s world-renowned Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. A collaborative MBA program, with online and hybrid courses, is available to students around the world in conjunction with Bluffton University, Goshen College and Canadian Mennonite University (Winnipeg, Manitoba). EMU’s first doctoral program in nursing practice begins in fall 2018.

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