Umble Master Class

Roy H. Umble, 1913-1996

Purpose of the Roy H. Umble Master Class

Roy H. Umble
Roy H. Umble

The Roy H. Umble Master Class in Communication and Theater was established with gifts from Goshen College alumni who had benefited from Roy’s teaching and inspiration. An initial gift from Janette Brunk in 1994 served as a tribute both to Roy and her parents, Perry and Fern Brunk, who developed an appreciation for theater because of their daughter’s involvement in it. In 1996 alumnus David E. Yoder, one of Roy’s many former students and admirers, initiated a fundraising effort to build an endowment to support a master class.

The Roy H. Umble Master Class brings nationally known practitioners and experts in communication and theater to the Goshen College campus annually for events and activities which enrich and inspire students, faculty, the broader campus and local and church communities.

Enriching the Educational Experience

The master class leaders provide intense workshops for students and others, such as local secondary teachers and students, who might have an interest in a given subject. The primary purpose is to enrich the educational experience of Goshen College students and faculty in the areas of communication and theater. The invited experts for each master class will be specialists in various speech and theater areas, including but not limited to oral interpretation, public address, rhetoric, speech pathology, acting, playwriting, stage design, movement and directing.

Who Was Roy. H. Umble?

Roy H. Umble dedicated his life as a faculty member to Goshen College and its heritage. He had a deep commitment to the Mennonite Church and expressed his faith to many generations of Goshen College students through his involvement in communication and theater.

Roy graduated from Goshen High School in 1931 and earned his B.A. from Goshen College in 1935. He received a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1949 after stints with Civilian Public Service in World War II and on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh. He returned to his alma mater as a faculty member in speech in 1946.

At Goshen College Roy helped introduce theater to the Mennonite Church by bringing plays to his students and to the larger community. Many of the early on-campus productions were sponsored by student literary societies. In the 1950s the Speech Department was designated as the home for all-campus productions, and Roy became the director of all-campus plays.

Highlights of Roy’s involvement with theater included opening with Thine Is the Glory on the Union stage after it was completed in 1950. He also directed on that stage Boy with a Cart, Our Town, Murder in the Cathedral, Diary of Anne Frank and Euripides’ Trojan Women. He celebrated the opening of the Umble Center in 1978 by directing Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The John S. Umble Center is named after Roy’s father, who taught English and speech at Goshen College.

Because of his close ties to the Mennonite Church, Roy spoke frequently in church settings. He organized the Intercollegiate Peace Oratorical Contest, a program which was begun in 1905, and was director of forensics. Many of his students eventually became leaders in the church, higher education and society.

Roy also played a key role in the development of the campus radio station,WGCS 91.1 FM, The Globe, which began broadcasting in 1958. For many years he served as a director for Mennonite Media Ministries.

Roy concluded his full-time teaching at Goshen College by directing the Study-Service Term program in Belize in 1981-82. He also taught English in China one year following his retirement.


Faculty in the Communication and Theater Departments take primary responsibility for planning each master class. The department chairs, in consultation with other faculty members, invite the visiting practitioners, teachers or scholars, design the teaching/learning format for each annual master class and oversee the annual program, including promotion and follow-up reporting.