ACRS Breakfast with Joe Lapp: Leader of Innovation and Progress

Where Northlawn, West Dining Room

Duration 1 hour 30 minutes

On MONDAY morning, April 8, 7:30 – 9:00 in EMU’s West Dining Room, Joe Lapp, EMU President Emeritus, will share his life-story with us.

Number six of nine children; youngest of five boys. Unlike many a Mennonite agrarian mid-Westerner (Ohio, Ind, or Iowa), Joe, by comparison, grew up as a quasi-urbanite Easterner, just beyond the suburbs of northern Philadelphia. Joe’s parents owned a grocery store—a growing operation which his father turned over to the care of trusted church business-folk as his church responsibilities, first as pastor then as bishop of a larger district, increased. Young Joe was reared in a most prominent Mennonite family whose father, JohnE. Lapp, had name recognition (alongside H.S. Bender, Orie O.Miller and Elmer G. Swartzendruber [our current President’s grandfather]) across the Mennonite Church for his leadership in inter-church and international relationships during Word War II and immediately following. But young Joe did not follow in his father’s footsteps. Nor did Joe fall into the path of his older brothers: he pursued neither academia (as did his oldest brother), nor the professional priesthood (pastoral ministry) of a second-oldest brother, but he pursued the secular and sometimes adversarial profession of law!

After getting his undergraduate degree from EMC, Joe attended law school at the Institute of Technology Chicago, Kent College of Law and graduated with a doctorate in jurisprudence (JD) in 1972. He joined EMU’s (EMC’s) Board of Trustees the following year. From 1980-86 he chaired the Board, and was then elected to be EMU’s next president. When Joe became EMU’s seventh president (1987), he was the first non-clergy in EMC’s/EMU’s history to hold the office. During Joe’s time in office EMC had a name change from “college” to “university.” It went from an undergraduate institution with a seminary attached to it, to “a university with five rapidly growing graduate programs” including the “Center for Justice and Peacebuilding” that has now become known worldwide. Key new buildings, including the University Commons, were erected. Furthermore, it is said on the authority of Pat Swartzendruber, that “hospitality” became a bi-word of EMU with the President’s home becoming “one of the most welcoming centers in the university“—thanks to Hannah Mack Lapp, Joe’s spouse (the only presidential spouse ever holding an office in EMU’s “West Wing” next to the President).

Joe Lapp: Kicking the vocational traces of a family endowed with a deep Mennonite-Anabaptist heritage, the “Lapp” values nevertheless remained in tact. These Joe brought with him to EMU both to be practiced in person and institutionally embodied to endure long beyond the presidency. When he ended his presidency in 2003, he had served EMU for 30 years and left behind him a rich heritage of innovation and progress. That spirit lives on campus today!

Please share this announcement with your friends interested in Joe’s life and story. This is the final ACRS Breakfast “episode” in the current academic year. Next September will begin a “New Series of ACRS Breakfasts” under new leadership. Coffee and pastries will be provided. If you wish to eat a full breakfast please go through the cafeteria line then bring your food to the West Dining Room.

Intended Audience General Public

Contact Information

Name Anabaptist Center

Phone # 540.432.4465

Email