December 2010

As we come to the end of the first term of this academic year, we have much for which to be grateful. For all students, faculty, and staff who may be traveling during the holiday season, I pray for safety, the warmth of relationships with family and friends, and opportunities to experience a renewing change of pace from our often-frenetic routines of life in the university setting.

Largest commercial solar project in Virginia

In November we dedicated the largest commercial solar project in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the system has outperformed our projections to date. The real-time data for output can be accessed online.

On a cloudy, snowy day like today the output is clearly minimal. In nearly six weeks of operation, however, we have offset more than 8,700 lbs of carbon and saved more than 7 trees. We anticipate making a final decision on the installation of a much larger second solar array early in 2011.

If we can move ahead on that project, to install solar panels over the north parking lot of University Commons, we have the capacity to produce at least 15 percent of our electric needs for the entire campus for many years going forward.

Campus-wide renovations and buildings

The fall term has witnessed the near completion of the Fine Arts/Theater/Common Grounds facility which we are planning to dedicate on March 26.

The continuing renovation of Elmwood and Maplewood residence halls has taken more time than we anticipated, due primarily to the complications of renovating older buildings which almost always brings unanticipated challenges. One can already see that the newly renovated buildings will ultimately be much improved over the current facilities. I wish it would be possible to do these projects with less inconvenience to our students.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaccreditation

On December 7 we heard the public announcement that EMU achieved reaccreditation for the maximum 10-year period by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. This follows an earlier announcement of full reaccreditation for the seminary by the Association of Theological Schools.

This represents the desired outcome of many hours of effort by faculty and staff all across campus for several years leading up to site visits last academic year. The quality of our documents was so superb that the materials were displayed at the SACS annual meeting for other institutions to examine.

The rigorous process of reaccreditation reaffirms the great quality of our academic programs for which all of us can be justifiably proud.

In early December Pat and I had the privilege of spending two days on the campus of Howard Payne University (TX) whose president I am mentoring this year as a new administrator of a Christian college. We are looking forward to hosting Dr. Bill and Dianna Ellis at EMU sometime during the spring term. Visiting other campuses always gives one new ideas, even as we are reminded of the particular strengths of EMU. I am particularly grateful for the quality of our faculty and staff, and for the unique strengths represented among my colleagues on the President’s Cabinet.

As Provost Kniss has reported in the provost’s updates, significant progress has been made on the details of our strategic plan for the next five years. Yesterday the SPC met with colleagues representing several programs at EMU-Lancaster (PA) where we have enjoyed considerable growth over the past five years. Our expectation is that a growing number of the Lancaster campus graduates will encourage their sons and daughters to seriously consider EMU for their undergraduate studies.

After spending most of the Christmas season in Harrisonburg with three of our children and their families, Pat and I will be in Iowa over the New Year’s weekend to help celebrate my parents’ 65th wedding anniversary. From there we will travel to California for the annual presidents/spouses meetings of the Council of Independent Colleges before returning a few days prior to the convocation service on January 12.

Books I’m reading: For the Whole Creation: Christianity and Scholarship in the Public Square, the Guild and the Church, edited by John Steven Paul and James Paul Old (with a chapter, “The Professor in the Parish: Beyond Gourmet Coffee and High-Quality Handouts,” by our own Marti Eads); Lessons Learned: Reflections of a University President by William G. Bowen; Going Home to Glory by David Eisenhower; Speech-Less by Matt Latimer; Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes.

Blessings, Loren