Two Eastern Mennonite University professors have been selected as one of eight two-member, cross-discipline teams in a pilot of a new Lilly Fellows Program national initiative.
Professors Esther Tian, a founding faculty member and director of the engineering program, and Laura Yoder, director of the undergraduate nursing program, were chosen from among 28 applying teams. They are now tasked with developing and piloting a Lilly Faculty Fellows Program at EMU using $10,000 in awarded startup funds.
The program, a pilot for an ongoing initiative, is designed to “refresh and enliven a sense of calling for participants as people of faith, as teachers, and scholars [and] provide a space for creative exploration of how Christian thought and practice intersect the academic vocation.” Unlike other Lilly Network efforts that focus on arts and the humanities, this program requires that at least one member of each team be in a STEM, social scientific, and professional field.
They will each receive a $5,000 honorarium and attend four conferences in Indianapolis and Chicago over the next two years.
The professors have long reflected the convergence of faith-informed thought, practice and academics at EMU.
“I see the engineering vocation as a vehicle for service to one another and service to God,” Tian wrote in her fellowship application. “I believe Christian engineering educators are called to engage students in service-learning as well as faith-animated learning experiences. Engineers help people meet their needs. At its essence, engineering is a service to others.”
The nursing program’s Sacred Covenant Model of Nursing, too, reflects this convergence, as do Yoder’s roles as a mentor for and prayer-partner with students. She has developed and led cross-cultural experiential courses that have a strong Christian faith development component, and has been a guest lecturer on health behavior and change from a Christian perspective.
Both Tian and Yoder are faculty leaders on campus. Tian is currently leading the program assessment of – and is planning to seek accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology for – the engineering program. She oversees the implementation of its curriculum, its equipment and its facilities, and collaborates with other departments for student projects.
She is also the founding faculty advisor for the award-winning EMU chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World, and serves on the faculty senate, the institutional effectiveness committee, and the institutional review board.
Yoder, who with the undergraduate dean co-chairs the undergraduate council and the undergraduate faculty, has also served as a member of the Campus Ministries Advisory Council, the Student Affairs Committee and faculty senate. In addition, she has coordinated the adult health curriculum in the nursing program and co-chaired the provost’s academic freedom task force.