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For two faculty members with so much in common, they spend a lot of time explaining how different they are. But Vernon (C 64) and Terry Jantzi (C 87), both professors of sociology at EMU, their alma mater, are more than colleagues. They are father and son.
“It’s humbling to see your child develop skills and strengths that are similar to yours,” says Vernon. “Terry actually has superior skills in some areas, and it makes me feel very satisfied. It’s rewarding to see him do well on his own and help so many others.”
The similarities are striking. Both teach in the same discipline, both earned undergraduate degrees from EMU, both hold graduate degrees in sociology from Cornell University, and both are world travelers and development consultants in Third-World countries.
The dissimilarities are intriguing, too. Their focal points lay within different programs, different regions and different genres.
The elder Jantzi focuses his expertise as a consultant on Latin America (mostly Central America, Peru and Chile), working in restorative justice and sociology-based education efforts like literacy campaigns and community coursework, while the younger Jantzi focuses his off-campus work with International Development NGOs in Latin America and the Caribbean involving such things as strategic planning, program evaluations, facilitations and trainings. He has also done work in Lesotho and Somalia in Africa.
“Consulting keeps me grounded, keeps me current and makes me a better teacher,” says Terry, who studied chemistry as an undergraduate before working with Mennonite Central Committee abroad and discovering his true interest in international development.
Vernon traded in his room with a view as chair of the sociology department a decade ago to teach in EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) and to help found the undergraduate Justice, Peace and Conflict Studies department. Terry joined the sociology department in 2000 as an adjunct professor, but soon became a full-time faculty member and moved into his father’s old office.
“I was one of many adjuncts working to keep the program going during a time when there was no full-time professor,” says Terry. “I found that at EMU professors can create a context with students. I’ve been involved with student government, cross–culturals, intramural sports and other organizations, and I’ve had the chance to create friendships on a personal level, as equals. Each student is unique and each relationship is unique, and we work to remember that in our everyday teaching.”
Perhaps the most intriguing similarity of all is their choice to teach at EMU rather than a high-profile institution. While Terry had an opportunity to join the American University faculty on a tenure track after he earned his graduate degrees, Vernon was courted by the faculty of Harvard International Institute of Development at the beginning of his career. Both chose, in their own time, to come to EMU.
“It was a struggle, not an easy choice,” says Vernon, “because there is sacrifice involved, but EMU has been good. I estimate that 75-80 percent of faculty members have made those same kind of choices. We choose to stay because there’s something about EMU that you don’t find anywhere else, and it’s worth the sacrifice.”
Terry expounds on that: “We learn about each and every one of our students, and they appear to be more mature, more culturally sensitive, more open to life than the typical undergrad, and that’s a big attraction when considering a teaching post. Our students are truly something to be proud of.”
On a personal level, the closeness between the two is apparent.
“It’s nice to have my father nearby,” says Terry. “We really are very similar, and it’s great to be able to bounce ideas off each other and share good stories.”
And the feeling is mutual. “I would say I’m very ‘proud’ of my son,” says Vernon with a smile, “but Mennonites don’t say that, do they?”
–Marcy Gineris is web content manager at EMU.