Loren E. SwartzendruberPresident Loren E. Swartzendruber

Eighth President, 2003-2016

Although elected to serve as EMU president starting in the summer of 2003, Loren E. Swartzendruber did not actually take office until January 2004, a few weeks after his 54th birthday. He spent the intervening months in preparation for the presidency. Provost Beryl Brubaker was interim president from June to December.

Swartzendruber, a native of Iowa, served previously for nine years as president of Hesston College, a two-year Mennonite school in Kansas. Before that he was associate executive secretary of what was then Mennonite Board of Education.

With a B.S. in 1976 from EMC and an M.Div. from its seminary, Swartzendruber is an alumnus. He attended the University of Iowa School of Pharmacy before completing his bachelor’s degree at EMC, and ultimately earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2000. He is an ordained minister in Mennonite Church USA.

Perhaps even more than his predecessors, Swartzendruber has worked hard to “sell” Mennonite higher education in general and EMU in particular. An accomplished speaker, he pursues an ambitious travel schedule that has taken him to nearly 130 churches.

Among Swartzendruber’s accomplishments are the successful re-accreditation process for another 10 years by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, filling key administrative positions with talented people, and leading the university through economic hard times while balancing the budget.

The biggest building project so far in the Swartzendruber years has been “Phase Two” of the University Commons project (completed in 2011) in which the old Student Center was transformed into a main stage theater, studio theater, art gallery, classrooms, advanced media lab, and expanded coffee shop.

Other projects include the replacement of Oakwood residence hall with Cedarwood and the renovation of two others—Maplewood and Elmwood. In 2012, Roselawn was renovated for use by the Intensive English Program and other departments. The next project—the most expensive in EMU’s history—will be the renovation and expansion of Suter Science Center.

As EMU nears its 100th anniversary in 2017, Swartzendruber can say that the school has grown from:

  • a faculty/staff group of fewer than 10 to more than 350.
  • an enrollment of 40 students from several states to nearly 1,600 from across the U.S. and 36 countries.
  • less than a dozen courses to around 900 courses in some 35 undergraduate majors, five graduate programs and the seminary.
  • one old hotel building and a “tabernacle” on 30 acres to 50 buildings on almost 100 acres.
  • an alumni association of seven members to 18,535.

Reflections and Messages from President Swartzendruber

  • An open letter to the church from the presidents of Mennonite Church USA colleges, universities and seminaries: news story
  • Opening Convocation, Jan. 2016: “For Just Such a Time as This” – President Loren Swartzendruber: podcast | news story
  • President Swarzendruber calls for action, pledges engagement in response to extremism of all forms: news story
  • EMU President Backs ‘College Presidents for Gun Safety’: statement
  • Working the Soil” August 2014 convocation address, drawing on Matthew 13:1-9: podcast
  • Reflections on Listening Together” January 2014 convocation address: podcast
  • A Desire to Belong” August 2013 convocation address: podcast
  • Love them and Feed Them” January 2013 convocation address: podcast
  • Like No Other” Fall 2012 convocation address: podcast
  • Called to Community” Fall 2011 convocation address: news story

Other Writings and Addresses 

Questions Loren addresses the campus community at the beginning of the spring semester, encouraging students never to lose their curiosity. “Education is an opportunity to continue asking questions about the world around us.”
‘Prepare to Serve and Lead’ Loren addresses the campus community. His message is followed by a sending blessing for the South Africa Cross Cultural group.
Response to Tragedy at Virginia Tech Letter to President Steger of Virginia Tech
Eyes on the Goal Fall Convocation Address
Community of Hope Spring Convocation Address
Bluffton Bus Tragedy Sermon at Bay Shore Mennonite Church in Sarasota, Fla.
Loving God with Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength Fall Convocation Address
Tough Minds, Tender Hearts Spring Convocation Address
An Opportunity to Serve Acceptance Speech at EMU Chapel


Global Warming – An Anabaptist Responds in Sermon Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, the journal of the American Scientific Affiliation
Help Our Youth Choose Their Colleges Published in The Mennonite
What Should a Christian School Do? Published in Gospel Herald
The College Choice Published in Gospel Herald
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