Extraodinary Care for the Common Good
By: Richard R. Aguirre
: this article features extended content, exclusive to the Bulletin online.
John D. and Winnie Yordy at April reception

View photos from the reception

For 31 years, Provost and Executive Vice President John D. Yordy said he pursued the goals of providing “extraordinary care to the ordinary and routine work that we do, to the special challenges that are sometimes part of institutional life and to the common good.”

On April 21, Yordy ’67 was honored for his decades of “Culture for Service” at a reception at College Mennonite Church. Yordy, 65, who retired June 30, thanked current and former faculty and staff members, administrators, students and his wife, Winnie, for the support they provided him and the college. They, in turn, thanked him.

“John’s vision and his leadership are as vital and relevant today as when he first became a student at Goshen College. John served Goshen College for 20 years as a chemistry professor and another 11 years as provost, overlapping two years as an interim president. In all this work, he provided keen oversight, leadership in good times and in times of transition and crisis,” said President Jim Brenneman.

“Faith, service to the Mennonite Church, service to Goshen College and service to the world are hallmarks of John’s career whether in Goshen, Haiti, Mexico, Honduras, the Dominican Republic or Kenya. Indeed, ‘Culture for Service’ and a life lived in companionship with Christ are apt descriptions of John Yordy. And it’s still a wonderful blueprint for our mission at Goshen College.”

Professor of Physics Carl Helrich praised Yordy for his accomplishments as a professor and an administrator, including the renovation of the Science Building and helping provide innovative research opportunities for students. Scott Barge ‘99 described Yordy as an excellent teacher and mentor with a tireless commitment to Goshen College. It also was announced that members of the President’s Circle have established the John D. and M. Winifred Yordy Scholarship.

Remarks by John D. Yordy:
        “I have enjoyed each of the stages of life at Goshen College, including teaching and my role in administration, both as provost and interim president. I have had the privilege of working with wonderful colleagues committed to the mission of the college and our common work together. Our goal has been to give extraordinary care to the ordinary and routine work that we do, to the special challenges that are sometimes part of institutional life, and to the common good. I wish current and retired colleagues and the college every success and God’s blessing now and in the years ahead as all of us continue to work for the welfare of the college.
        “I have appreciated being part of a community committed to excellence, biblical faith and the welfare of all students. It has been a special joy to be part of the educational and developmental journey of students in my classes and on SST as they worked to realize their hopes, dreams and goals. In my teaching, I tried to create a setting that provided the kind of positive learning context that Winnie and I would want for our own children.
        “In terms of my own future, I anticipate enhancing hobbies that have not been fully developed, visiting children and grandchildren, doing some neglected projects around the house, and work that builds on my skill set.”

Remarks by Scott Barge '99, former student and assistant:

What did you most appreciate about John Yordy as a mentor?

        “These are all difficult questions, but I'd start off by saying that I think what I appreciate most about John as a mentor is the extent to which he models such admirable qualities on so many different levels. He is a tireless worker, deeply committed to all that he undertook and one who pays a great amount of attention to detail and being thorough. He also is quick to express his appreciation and encouragement, quick to thank people and name their good work, strengths and successes. And of course he has a fantastic sense of humor and doesn't take difficult situations too seriously.”

What made John such a good/effective professor and administrator?

        “In some senses, I think it was these latter two characteristics — his sense of humor and ability to place things into perspective — that enabled him to be so successful during his years as provost. The college waded through some very difficult times and he was always one to be able to see the bigger picture and not let the challenges get the best of him.”

What do you consider to be John's most important contribution to Goshen College?

        I think more than any one specific achievement (e.g., his role in the music building or in securing the $12.5 million Lilly grant), his greatest contribution may indeed have been the stability that he created through 11 years in leadership. He managed to maintain positive relationships with the faculty and other key constituents even in the face of numerous challenges.

How should he be remembered?

        “I think John should be remembered first and foremost for his commitment to the College and for his strength of character that manifested itself in so many ways through his effective leadership.”