EMU’s Top News of 2020

Seriously, we thought twice about posting this retrospective. After all, it’s a year many of us would rather forget, or at least move on from.

But still, there are stories and people to celebrate, and we continue to seek out and share news that uplifts us and spreads the word about the good works our EMU family does throughout the world.

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!

Take a moment to enjoy a list of Top CJP Reads from news about the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.

And here’s our Top Photos of 2020.

Without further ado, here we go!

1. Pandemic decisions

Not surprisingly, readers were  curious about how EMU was addressing the challenges of the pandemic, with the most-read article of 2020 – 2,632 views – being an announcement that campus would open in the fall for in-person classes.

With about half the number of reads, landing squarely in the middle of our Top Ten, was coverage of March developments, which you’ll recall, was just as the pandemic was beginning in the middle of spring semester 2020.

We included the links to those articles with full knowledge that you most likely will not care to read them — or anything about the pandemic — again.  Which is fine by us.

2. Pádraig Ó Tuama’s visit

On a happier note, more than 2,000 unique pageviews to our preview coverage heralded the immense interest in poet, theologian and conflict mediator Pádraig Ó Tuama and his September 2020 virtual visit. This article is also on the Top CJP Reads list.

For a limited time, you can still view recordings of his seven appearances over the five-day residency, including events hosted by the seminary, NPR affiliate WMRA and JMU’s Furious Flower Poetry Center. His visit was the result of some visionary dreaming and some lovely harmonic confluences of serendipity.

3. Goodbyes

Our community of learners retains deep ties and great affection for emeritus faculty and staff. Our memorial articles about beloved faculty and staff members, such as those for Jay B. Landis and Nate Yoder among others, were widely shared. 

4. CJP’s 25th anniversary and Alicia Garza 

An announcement that activist Alicia Garza would headline CJP’s summer anniversary celebration drew 1,500 reads (this article is also on the Top CJP Reads list). The Black Lives Matter co-founder was to be the featured speaker at an evening gala during what promised to be a full weekend celebrating CJP’s 25 years of global impact.

The event was cancelled and rescheduled for June 2021. Garza is still slated to speak.

Now billed “25+1,” the event will be all virtual.

4. Yoder and Webb Scholars 

Notching nearly 1,400 views is our annual coverage of those bright, talented stars joining other bright, talented stars in our upcoming first-year class. 

5. Cords of Distinction

Eastern Mennonite University’s 2020 Cords of Distinction honorees are (top row, from left) Leah Wenger, Emily Powell, Gabby McMillon, Lindsay Acker, Donaldo Lleshi and (lower row, from left) Cheyenne Marzullo, Abigail Shelly, Justin Odom, Ariel Barbosa, and Kiara Kiah. (Courtesy photos)

This annual spring coverage announcing the seniors who have earned EMU’s highest honor is always a perennial favorite (1,316 views). We sure it makes the rounds among grandparents, brothers, mothers, sundry cousins and all.

Sharing the photo above because we know this group missed out on the normal recognitions, hugs, high fives, all that love, and the pageantry and closure of a graduation ceremony. But in spite of all that, look at their smiles! (Getting sentimental here, we love our students for their resiliency, their spirit and their vision and the way they inspire us every day in our work here.)

6. New VP

An announcement of both a new administrative role and the new hire – Jason Good – drew 1,300 views. 

7. Still singing at EMU

Professor Benjamin Bergey prepares sound equipment during a summer 2020 experiment to see how socially distanced outdoor rehearsals might work.

Lovers of music and arts aficionados, and we have plenty among our readership, enjoyed an article about Benjamin Bergey, professor of music, and his experiments to enable EMU student-singers to safely rehearse and perform. (And they did do both successfully this past semester, culminating in an outdoor concert that drew a delighted, though distanced audience.)

8. Nursing grads head to the frontlines

Here’s Professor Kate Clark manning a COVID hotline for the Virginia Department of Health while senior nursing student Emily Travis listens in.

This chronicle of how EMU nursing faculty and the 17 seniors managed to adapt to near-daily changes, meeting their clinical requirements to graduate on time, had approximately 1,100 readers. We love this quote from Professor Kate Clark about experiencing these challenges with her colleagues and their students:

We have amazing dedicated faculty and a dynamic leader who brought us all together to put together a game plan that works. And students who trusted us and were ready to go with what we proposed. Everyone pitched in. EMU nursing shines in moments like this.

9. Board chair succession

Notching just over a thousand hits was an announcement of the new board chair Manuel A. Nuñez ‘94. He succeeded Kay B. Nussbaum ’78, who served EMU’s board with distinction, and through many challenging times, since 2006.

10. Guatemala cross-cultural saga

EMU’s cross cultural group in Guatemala was trapped behind suddenly closed borders this spring, but not for long thanks to a collaborative effort and some behind-the-scenes shoulder tapping. You can imagine this wasn’t the first time in 30-plus years of the program’s history that a group encountered tumult (natural or manmade) and endured some challenges. The article includes some of that history as well.

And once again, our All-Time Greatest Hit: Mark Loving on ‘Loving’

By far the most viewed article of the last five years (nearly 10,000 views this year alone) is this 2016 profile of then-sophomore Mark Loving, who graciously shared about the legacy of his great-grandparents, Richard and Mildred 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 a 2019 graduate.

Special thanks to web analyst Joshua Lyons for his contributions to this article.

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