Bearing witness, conveying relevance: Journalism students find engaging ways to share stories of HIV/AIDS in Swaziland

By Rachel Lapp
Photos by Zac Albrecht '06

Seated on a reed mat against the wall of a concrete hut, Anna Groff's notes were sparse as she and fellow Goshen College junior Kimberlee Rohrer interviewed Phumile, a young Swazi mother.
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New book released on practical peacemaking for the global church

By Anna Groff

One person can indeed make a difference in the world – starting in their own communities.
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The secret life of microRNA

Bartel receives National Academy of Sciences Award for molecular biology discovery

By Thomas V. Bona '99

For David Bartel, his current work in the research lab is a lot like his memories of his dad's ceramics studio.
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A healing legacy

By Jodi H. Beyeler

When first-year students Stephanie Kennell (Eureka, Ill.) and Kelly Wiebe (Millersburg, Ohio) were both in second grade, they each dressed up as nurses for Halloween,
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Bursting at the seams: Nursing at GC and nationally

By Jodi H. Beyeler

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the U.S. healthcare industry will need more than 2.8 million new workers – most of them nurses – by the year 2010.
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Goshen College Board Policies
Current as of October 18, 2004

Category I: Ends Policies

1.0 Global Ends Statement:

Goshen College students integrate Christian faith, learning and service through an excellent Mennonite college education, at an institution practicing wise stewardship of resources.
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'Ends' are the beginning: Goshen College board embraces new governance model

If you don't know where you are going, how do you know when you have arrived? That question might sound most appropriate for an undergraduate philosophy class, but it is actually the heart of a process that is changing how the Goshen College Board of Directors does its work.
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'Pearl Diver' offers no easy answers amidst visual beauty and tragedy

Though pacifism stands in stark contrast to the violence in the world, when it is tested in real life, the answers are never so clear.
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The process of transformation

Interim President John D. Yordy
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cover
 Peace & Justice Journalism
 HIV/AIDS in Swaziland

 June 2005



'Ends' are the beginning: Goshen College board embraces new governance model

If you don't know where you are going, how do you know when you have arrived? That question might sound most appropriate for an undergraduate philosophy class, but it is actually the heart of a process that is changing how the Goshen College Board of Directors does its work.

For the past year and a half, the board of directors has transformed how it operates as Goshen's governing entity, making an ideological transition toward a "policy governance" model, also called the "Carver model" – a blueprint used by many nonprofit and for-profit boards alike based on the work of theorist, author and expert consultant John Carver. This modern governance system, which can be applied to any organization's specific mission, provides the board of directors with a thoughtful framework for assessing where Goshen College is today and envisioning – as representatives of the college's stakeholders – where it should be tomorrow.

The board's new governance model essentially changes the perspective from which its members are asked to view the college. You might say that the board is exchanging a microscope for a topographical map in its work of guiding Goshen College in its mission – looking at the landscape and contexts in which the college operates as a Christ-centered institution for higher education.

virgil Virgil Miller, chair of Goshen College's Board of Directors and president of Sauder Manufacturing, said that the board has embraced this model and is engaged by the opportunities it presents.

"The goal of this work is to define the purpose for the institution. The processes of governance must give us direction – allow us to understand what propels us forward as a board, as administrators, as faculty," said Miller. "We also have to measure how we're doing in where we say we're going. Thinkers about organizational structures say that when things go wrong, it usually isn't people, but process. We want to make sure we have the right processes in place so that Goshen College continues to move in a positive direction."

The most significant yet perhaps the most difficult responsibility of any board of directors, according to Carver's explanation of the policy governance model, is to clarify and re-clarify why the organization exists.

Said Miller, "There is the adage that all nonprofits begin with a cause, their mission, but that over time that changes and their purpose becomes to sustain the organization. Goshen College is for young people – for Mennonites and others who wish to be Christ-centered and to have experiences that make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. The board needs to summarize who we are as an institution, and what we are about."

A vital rearticulation two years ago of the college's guiding principles, or core values – Christ-centered passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant leadership – continues to be met with enthusiastic affirmation among the college's constituencies, Miller said. These statements, which the Carver model calls "values statements," impact how the Goshen College Board of Directors defines expectations for the campus and seeks to appropriately delegate and create accountability.

An article by John and Miriam Carver titled, "Carver's Governance Model in Nonprofit Organizations," observes, "Boards have had a very hard time knowing what to control and how to control it. Policy Governance provides a key conceptual distinction that enables the board to resolve this quandary. The task is to demand organizational achievement in a way that empowers the staff, leaving to their creativity and innovation as much latitude as possible. This is a question of what and how to control, but it is equally a question of how much authority can be safely given away. We argue that the best guide for the board is to give away as much as possible, short of jeopardizing its own accountability for the total."

An important step for the Goshen's Board of Directors in clarifying its direction to the college was the creation of "ends statements" – one of two key issues addressed by the policy governance model. Carver summarizes, "In contrast to the approaches typically used by boards, policy governance separates issues of organizational purpose ("ends") from all other organizational issues ("means"), placing primary importance on those "ends."

"Ends statements" provide direction for Goshen College "for the long haul," Miller said, and describe the impact of Goshen College's mission in the world. At the same time, the "ends statements" are part of a living document and are subject to change to reflect the dynamic environment in which any organization – even a 111-year-old institution – operates.

"The purpose of creating the 'ends statements' and using them to guide us is so critical, because it forces us to think about big picture issues on a fairly regular basis," he continued. "The board should have an eye on the past – not to hold us there, but to see how decisions in the past were made and whether the results remain appropriate in today's context."

Each member of the board of directors must do their best to communicate their understanding of what the stakeholders they represent want the college to be, Miller said. The policy governance model, as implemented by Goshen College, emphasizes the importance of processes that involve listening to stakeholders.

"The responsibility of the Board of Directors is to discern a 'united whole' from the important themes we hear, so that the direction we give is clear. We are accountable for communicating what we've done with what we've heard," said Miller. "The 'ends statements' also remind us that we must measure how we're doing in where we say we're going."

Neither "ends statements" nor "means statements" are the same as a strategic plan for Goshen College, though processes have been ongoing for nearly two years to update the strategic plan for the campus, led by former president Shirley H. Showalter and Goshen College Interim President John D. Yordy (who previously served as provost) and members of the President's Council as well as the college's Strategic Planning Steering Committee Chair Luke Gascho. The strategic planning process has, however, fleshed out direction for the ways in which the campus will accomplish goals consistent with the "ends statements."

It is important to have strong evaluation processes in place – ways to measure the college's effectiveness in meeting the goals described in the "ends statements." Said Miller, "Evaluation is really how the college answers another important question, 'Have expectations been met?' The board will continue to work at determining the best ways to assess that – by listening to our stakeholders, listening to campus leadership and continuing to share what we are hearing."
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