A new endowment in support of psychology majors at Eastern Mennonite University honors three exemplary emeritus professors. Kim Gingerich Brenneman ‘85, Galen Lehman ‘73, and Judy Mullet ‘73 have 101 years of service between them at EMU.
The endowment honors the transformative impact of their teaching, scholarship and advising on hundreds of EMU students, but also supports the continued studies of new generations of students.
“It is an honor to have my name on the psychology endowment, especially with two other brilliant psychology faculty whom I know have made huge differences in the lives of EMU students,” said Brenneman.
This scholarship is the first of its kind for psychology majors at EMU. Full-time psychology students in their first year at EMU will qualify as recipients, and students of African, Hispanic, Asian and Native American descent will be given priority.
Dennis Showalter ‘73, who graduated alongside Lehman and Mullet, saw an opportunity to create it.
“I decided that a psychology scholarship was definitely needed,” Showalter says. “Our EMC 45th reunion was coming up, so I reached out to the 10 psychology majors from the class of 1973, to see if they would partner with me in securing the scholarship.”
Lehman and Mullet joined Showalter and Gretchen Maust ‘73, administrative assistant for the Visual and Communication Arts Department, to help establish the endowment. They then invited Brenneman, who was eager to join the team. But the coalition still needed to name the scholarship.
Each professor was “too humble to want it to be named after him or herself, so we named it after all of them,” says Showalter.
They’re seeking $10,000 in financial support through EMU’s new crowdfunding platform, which has recently helped fund the Matt Garber Endowed Scholarship and MJ Sharp Peace & Justice Endowed Scholarship, both in honor of young alumni who have passed away.
“Endowments such as these affirm, energize and invite students to more deeply commit to a community of explorers and travelers in one of the newest disciplines in higher education,” says Mullet. “As a faculty member in the department I sought to live what we explored together both in and out of classrooms. The richness of one-to-one conversations were ‘holy moments’ that I cherish to this day. I’m honored to support ongoing ‘holy moments’ at EMU through this scholarship.”
Legacies live on through students and colleagues
All three former faculty have left indelible marks on the program through their tenure. Maust is proud of how far the department has come since she was a student.
“I am delighted to see our current psych majors challenged to explore all sorts of career options. I’m most excited about the new art therapy concentration which prepares our grads for advanced degrees in art therapy and the collaboration between our undergrad psych program and the graduate Master in Counseling program,” Maust says.
Lehman, having joined the faculty in 1973, brought some of the earliest improvements to the program, including Apple II computers, and renovating the formerly dirt-floor Suter Science Center basement into instructional and collaboration space.
Mullet, in addition to teaching psychology, also directed the Honors program, taught undergraduate and graduate courses in education, and co-founded and co-led Student Kairos Place, a week-long gathering of EMU undergraduate writers.
She had a reputation as an excellent listener and mentor with deep compassion for her students.
“Judy Mullet is one of the kindest, and without a doubt the most affirming, persons I have ever known,” said Joshua Kanagy ‘13, a mental health counselor at Morrison Child and Family Services in Portland, Oregon. “Judy has a remarkable knack for recognizing and encouraging her students’ talents, and she was instrumental in my own decision to become a counselor. I am a gentler, more vulnerable, and more hopeful human being because of her.”
Brenneman, respected for her academic rigor, also led many cross-cultural trips to India over the years. And she was skilled at putting her colleagues and students at ease.
“Her ability to always treat me with the highest respect for both who I am and the emotions that tag along with me has had an impact that will last throughout my entire life,” said Emily Suttles ‘16. “I have met many people who are good listeners, but she definitely tops the list, and I continue to strive to be that same type of listener for other people.”
Ultimately, Brenneman hopes to provide “a bit of financial relief” for tomorrow’s psychology students. “I hope it also shows that we are committed to encouraging the next generation of psychologists academically as well as financially.”