Loren Swartzendruber

I am keenly aware that our kind of education is most effective when our students come to EMU having been nurtured by families and congregations with similar values.

Loren Swartzendruber

Letter from the President

I have had several conversations in the past several days which underscore the distinctive education our students are receiving. We are, indeed, fulfilling our mission to prepare graduates to serve and lead in a global context.Several EMU staff met with the principle owners of a marketing firm located in Harrisonburg. They reflected on what they observe about our graduates in job interviews. “Graduates of most institutions tend to focus primarily on themselves and what they want to achieve as individuals. EMU graduates talk about what they can contribute to the organization and its mission.”

A few days later Pat and I participated in the annual convention of Mennonite Economic Development Associates, a gathering of business and professional people who care about integrating faith and business. Over breakfast a business leader from Ohio shared that EMU interviewees frequently research the company’s website and then ask questions about how the mission and values are being incorporated into the company’s activities.

Of course, our mission to prepare servant leaders for the global context is not limited to the business program. We expect all graduates, whatever their majors, to be engaged in conversations about their life goals and how they will be shaped by their faith commitments.

We should not assume that this is what happens at all universities. Bill Gates shared these comments in a commencement speech at Harvard University in June 2007,

I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world – the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.

I learned a lot here at Harvard about new ideas in economics and politics. I got great exposure to the advances being made in the sciences.

But humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries – but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad economic opportunity – reducing inequity is the highest human achievement.

I left campus knowing little about the millions of young people cheated out of educational opportunities here in this country. And I knew nothing about the millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and disease in developing countries.

It took me decades to find out.

Gates acknowledged that today’s Harvard students are likely more informed about world conditions than may have been the case for his generation of students. I am convinced, however, that an EMU graduate is much more likely to have wrestled with the moral and ethical challenges of what it means to live in a world of such disparities. And, I am keenly aware that our kind of education is most effective when our students come to EMU having been nurtured by families and congregations with similar values.

There are, of course, real ironies in all of this for a college president. Our alumni and friends are immensely generous to make this experience possible for this generation of students. Relatively few of them, however, are in a financial position to make the transformative gifts needed to keep EMU affordable, build the facilities needed, and grow the endowment. The reality is that EMU would not be successful without the partnership of you as parents, our supporting congregations, generous alumni, and the real sacrifices our faculty and staff make because we believe in our mission.

For this wonderful partnership I am especially thankful during this Advent Season. Mentoring your sons and daughters is a sacred privilege. Please continue to pray for us!


Loren Swartzendruber,