Images from Eastern Mennonite University's top news stories of 2018. From left: Kathleen Weaver Kurtz polishes the family piano, a gift to EMU; Professor David Berry poses before his debut concert at EMU; and Milwaukee Brewers catcher Erik Kratz rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Washington Nationals. (Photos by Macson McGuigan and Andrew Strack)

Top EMU News and Editor’s Picks of 2018

[CUE MUSIC] [Sound of throat clearing] Me me me … [then HUMMING to lyrics] Should auld acquaintance be forgot,And never brought to mind?

Your EMU editorial staff didn’t actually sing “Auld Lang Syne” while reviewing the 2018 news analytics, but we do hum, sometimes, as we work.

The EMU News blog is one of the most-visited pages on the EMU website, with readers coming from all countries in the world but Tonga and French Polynesia; if you know of someone who lives there, encourage them to check us out! 

Also take a moment to enjoy a list of Top CJP Reads about the hard-working folks and grads from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.

Our Top Photos of 2018 is curated by photography and videography manager Andrew Strack and recognizes the work of his staff, which includes photographer Macson McGuigan, as well as creative director Jon Styer.To stay in touch with what’s happening on campus and with our alumni around the world, subscribe to our weekly news digest.

Editor’s Pick: Erik Kratz

Erik Kratz ’02 had one of his best seasons ever, fans loved him, and the Milwaukee Brewers were just one win short of a World Series appearance. Two articles about Erik on our website attracted 1,167 readers (“Opportunity Knocks,” a profile and interview) and 1,227 readers (Brewers head to NLCS).

Most of our coverage here at EMU is, necessarily, on fairly serious subjects and written in a tone that matches. So as a former Valley Baseball League media director who has written extensively about the history and players of the local Rockingham County Baseball League, I found typing away at articles about Erik Kratz, not to mention visiting him in the locker room pre-game at Nationals Park, to be a joy-full kind of homecoming, like slipping on my well-worn baseball glove.

Staff Picks

Christopher Clymer Kurtz writes: Often the people I write about leave me feeling inspired. Keyri Lopez-Godoy, who graduated last spring, was herself dogged hope even in the face of her uncertain immigration status. The Magal family’s global pursuits were built on deep personal connections. And Bev Miller’s deliberate openness about her own struggles as she encourages others to also participate in a bipolar disease study is indeed a “gift to the world.”

Top Tweet

The retirement announcement of Professor Sandy Brownscombe, coach and mentor of teachers, in May 2018, was our Top Tweet of the Year.

Top Facebook post

The video of EMU’s 100th Commencement was our top post. View it here.

Top news

1. Memorials to former faculty and staff

Among our many duties here at EMU News is the sacred responsibility of honoring the passing of community members. Well-read articles garnering more than 4,000 cumulative readers memorialized the life and work of Professor Emeritus Titus Bender, his colleague Professor Emeritus Ray Gingerich, and former director of multicultural services Dianne Swann. Bender and Gingerich co-taught a peace and justice studies class that was the precursor to EMU’s undergraduate peace and development major; both of their orbits moved far beyond Harrisonburg.

Similarly, Swann did impactful work beyond her nine years at EMU, where she was the first African American to hold a senior administrative role. She left EMU to become director of African-American and special programs at Monticello. In this role, she co-founded the Getting Word project, which has identified and collected oral histories from descendants of families enslaved at Monticello, and co-authored the official report linking Jefferson to Sally Hemings.

2. Yoder Scholars

Our annual coverage of the winners of the Yoder Scholarships, a perennial reader favorite, garnered more than 1,640 views. These talented teenagers always have fan clubs!

3. The Lehman Family Piano

For the first time, an article written by someone other than an EMU staffer broke into the Top Ten with more than 1,545 readers. Kathleen Weaver Kurtz’s article about the Lehman family piano, a gift that resides in the President’s Reception Room in the University Commons, is a wonderful chronicle of one family’s love of music and the travails of abiding by church doctrine. Comments to the posted article contained rich memories from the extended Lehman family and other music lovers: “Just happened to stumble across this story. Glad I did. Something about it hit home. Thanks for sharing,” wrote one reader.

4. New Programs

Readers were intrigued by the announcement that EMU offers five new majors and five new minors, part of ongoing strategies to prepare our students for an ever-changing workforce. (1,472 views)

5. Big Grants

Eastern Mennonite Seminary earned a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment for a program designed to help pastors build thriving ministries. (1,424 views)

6. Big Wins

Three EMU students teamed up to take first place over 60 other teams from three countries in the annual Kryptos contest, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Section of the Mathematical Association of America. They solved three puzzles before anyone else and in less than 20 hours – without pulling an all-nighter. The team consisted of one sophomore and two first-years. We hope they return to contend for a repeat title this year. (1,333 views)

7. One Fine Pianist

Faculty member David Berry regularly draws standing ovations (and whoops from the balcony from me, I’ll admit – now you all know who that is up there…) after his performances. This profile by Christopher Clymer Kurtz introduced him to the EMU community and no doubt has informed others who wanted to know more about him throughout his first year here. And clearly, pianos have a place in the hearts of EMU readers! (1,074 views)

8. Donning of the Kente

Since Celeste Thomas, director of multicultural services, started this event three years ago, it’s blossomed into a lively and emotion-filled celebration, gathering undergraduate and graduate students with their mentors and family members to recognize their special achievement. It’s also the first time graduates wear their caps, gowns and stoles – which means some of the beauty of the evening comes from their luminous, dawning joy at the realization of what they have accomplished – and from the anticipation of where they are headed. (1,057 views)

All-Time Greatest Hit: Mark Loving on ‘Loving’

By far the most viewed article of the last three years (10,000 plus views, averaging more than 30 and as many as 50 views a day) is this 2016 profile of then-sophomore Mark Loving, who graciously shared about the legacy of his great-grandparents, Richard and Mildred Loving. The Virginia couple went to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend their right to marry and live together; their story is dramatized in the fall 2016 release “Loving.” Readership spikes around June 12, known as “Loving Day” in the United States, to commemorate the 1967 ruling by the Supreme Court to disband all anti-miscegenation laws.  Mark is now a senior and set to graduate this spring.


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