Student Life Division Staff

The student life office is located on second floor of the University Commons. The office of Shannon Dycus, Dean of Students, is in University Commons, 223.

Shannon Dycus

Shannon Dycus - Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Shannon Dycus, most recently co-pastor of First Mennonite Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, brings experience in the pastorate, higher education and K-12 education. The Vice President and Dean of Students is the senior student life representative at EMU, responsible for the co-curricular aspects of learning and living on campus. The VP/Dean collaborates with student life operations and supervises various directors.
(540) 432-4134

Learn more about Shannon

Brian Martin Burkholder

Brian Martin Burkholder - University Chaplain, Director of Faith and Spiritual Life

University Chaplain, previously worked as a public school teacher, school counselor and program director of Christian retreats, environmental education and outdoor ministries. While studying at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Brian served as interim campus pastor at Goshen (IN) College. He enjoys mentoring and encouraging young adults, leading music and worship, and participating in spiritual retreats. He is energized by chaplaincy, bluegrass and folk music, contra dancing, hiking in beautiful natural settings, gardening and almost everything water-related.
(540) 432-4115

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Irene Kniss

Irene Kniss - Director of Health Services

Irene Kniss has worked as a nurse in critical care, pediatrics, general medical/surgical and oncology. Irene has volunteered at the local Free Clinic. Irene worked in a law firm as a legal nurse consultant for almost 14 years, reviewing and analyzing medical records and drafting legal documents. Irene continues to provide these services through her private consulting business, Kniss & Spencer Legal Nurse Solutions, LLC. She is an avid baseball and college basketball fan.
(540) 432-4302
Schedule an appointment with Health Services by calling (540) 432-4308 or emailing Visit the Health Services website at

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Celeste Thomas

Celeste Thomas - Director of Multicultural Student Services

Celeste Thomas has a passion for helping students from a variety of backgrounds feel included in the EMU campus community.
(540) 432-4458

Learn more about Celeste

Micah Shristi

Micah Shristi - Director of International Student Services

Micah Shristi works with international students in his role as International Admissions Counselor and Co-director of International and Multicultural Student Services. He served in Nepal with Mennonite Central Committee (2008-2012) and in Colombia with Mennonite Mission Network (2003-2005). In his free time, Micah enjoys spending time with his two young sons, solar energy projects, gardening and cycling.
(540) 432-4459

Learn more about Micah

Scott Eyre

Scott Eyre - Director for Campus Life

Before taking time away from work to be at home with his son, Scott was the Assistant Director of Residence Life at Bridgewater College. Previously, Scott worked for eight years in Residence Life, Student Accountability & Restorative Justice offices at EMU, serving in multiple positions. His work with undergraduate students was centered around helping them feel connected to EMU and finding a home on the campus.  Scott also gave oversight to the hiring and training of staff, and the design of residential curriculum, while also working with students in response to conflict. Scott is also an accomplished sports photographer, creating images for EMU, as well as James Madison University, Villanova, North Carolina State and many other clients.

Scott is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University where he has an undergraduate degree in photography, minoring in youth ministry and his graduate degree in interdisciplinary studies, focussing on organizational leadership and restorative justice.
(540) 432-4974

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Jonathan Swartz

Jonathan Swartz - Associate Dean of Students

Jonathan Swartz obtained his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Bethel College (Mishawaka, IN), a Masters of Divinity (M.Div) degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary (2014) and a Masters in Conflict Transformation (MACT) degree from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at EMU (2014). During seminary and graduate school studies at EMU, Jonathan served as a Campus Ministries Intern and as Restorative Justice Facilitator/Assistant Resident Director in Residence Life. Jonathan has served as EMU’s Restorative Justice Coordinator with primary focus on student support and accountability. In 2014 he spent a year researching the student conduct response system at EMU, which resulted in the writing of the report: Student Conduct and Restorative Justice Assessment.
(540) 432-4128

Learn more about Jonathan

Venissa White

Venissa White - Program Director for Safer Together

Venissa works with students who experience sexual violence as the Program Director for Safer Together; EMU's Sexual Assault Prevention initiative. As the previous Assistant Director of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program at the University of Iowa, Venissa brings a wealth of experience in leading victim centered programming and creating systems that support student healing. Beyond working with students Venissa has a deep commitment to rebuilding educational systems, policies, and procedures that impact students who experience sexual violence, and have the potential to reduce and prevent sexual assault. Venissa is a new Virginia resident and enjoys spending time with her five college age daughters, baking, gardening, reading, writing, watching college football, and being in the sunshine.

Learn more about Venissa

Nikki Dovel headshot

Nikki Dovel - Lead Counselor

Nikki Dovel obtained her undergraduate degree in psychology from James Madison University, and completed her graduate studies right here at EMU in the MA Counseling Program in 2013. She has served as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Shenandoah Valley for the last several years in various settings to include community based services, crisis response/ inpatient services, and clinical leadership and supervision. 


Tyler Goss headshot

Tyler Goss - Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Development

Tyler Goss organizes orientation, oversees student clubs and orgs, provides leadership to campus "Engage Events," and supports the incredible work of our student leaders in Common Grounds and Student Government Association. Previously, Tyler served in EMU's Residence Life from 2016-2023 and organized campus-wide activities through Student Programs from 2018-2023. He has a Master of Divinity from Eastern Mennonite Seminary and a Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation from EMU's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Tyler is passionate about creating spaces of belonging and can be found on the ultimate frisbee field or on a run in his free time.

Photo of Jennifer North Bauman

Jennifer North Bauman - Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs

Jennifer has been working at EMU since 1992 in a variety of roles and departments including Development and Church Relations, Admissions and most recently Alumni and Parent Engagement. She is excited to be working more closely with students again and facilitating the work of the Student Life Division.

In her spare time Jennifer enjoys taking advantage of what the Shenandoah Valley has to offer through hiking, biking, camping as well as disc golf. She is married to Kendal Bauman and has 2 children.
(she, her)

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