GOSHEN, Ind. – In making decisions, “whether to choose leaders or to resolve issues,” the Mennonite Church “Confession of Faith” states that members of the church should “listen and speak in a spirit of prayerful openness.” The process of seeking a new president for Goshen College has begun with a focus on listening to the many voices with interest in leadership for the 110-year old institution.
When the newly named members of the Goshen College Presidential Search Committee gathered from across the country in Kansas City for their first meeting, they were directed by Virgil Miller, chair of the Goshen College Board of Directors, and Rosalind E. Andreas, chair of the Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) Board of Directors, to “reach out within the church to include many voices in this process to inform your prayerful work together.”
The Presidential Search Committee met Dec. 10 after appointments were finalized in November. The group spent their time in worship, in getting acquainted and outlining steps in the over all scope of their work, including setting future meeting dates. The committee also agreed to design and implement, as a first step, a broad-based communication and feedback process that will focus on interaction with stakeholders including the Goshen College campus community, church leaders, alumni, donors, presidents of similar colleges and universities and members of the area business community in its discernment process.
Miller said he is “deeply thankful” for the willingness of each search committee member to commit their time and energy to the “hard work” of listening and discernment, and that he appreciates the leadership that Goshen College Board of Directors Vice Chair Rick Stiffney is providing as Presidential Search Committee chair.
“Each person on the committee was chosen for his or her abilities to listen and discern through the lens of their varying backgrounds and their experiences in whatever they are doing in life,” said Miller. “These experiences inform how and what each hears from various stakeholder groups, as well as how the committee members listen to one other and to God.”
Andreas said that the task of appointing a school president is a key leadership task. In addition to listening to stakeholders, she continued, the committee is asked to “review the unique contributions Goshen College can make to Mennonite education and the church and discern leadership needs for Goshen at this time in its history.”
Stiffney, who coordinated the day-long search committee meeting, said, “I am really encouraged by the breadth of perspective and depth of expertise represented on this committee. We are humbled by the sense of responsibility, but energized by the opportunity before the college and the church. Our work will engage many and build on the already excellent momentum represented in the GC strategic planning process – Advancing Goshen.”
Miller and Stiffney both said that they have complete confidence that the college is in experienced hands thanks to the leadership of Interim President John Yordy and the very capable President’s Council. Stiffney said, “This means the search committee can take the time to do a comprehensive and thoughtful search.”
Said Miller, “From what I have heard and personally observed, the positive feeling about the interim leadership team gives people the sense that we have the opportunity to move forward at an appropriate pace in order to anticipate the most positive results. I feel very good about our progress to this point.”
Periodic progress reports on the work of the committee as well as a communication link to the Goshen College Presidential Search Committee will be available through the Goshen College web site at https://www.goshen.edu/news/For_the_Media/Presidential_transition.
The following members of the Presidential Search Committee are joined by ex officio member Carlos Romero, executive director of MEA:
- Stiffney is a Goshen resident and Goshen College graduate who is president and chief executive officer of Mennonite Health Services Alliance and who consults widely with numerous not-for organizations and has served on many boards.
- GC Board of Directors member Miriam Book of Harleysville, Pa., a pastor at Salford Mennonite Church, has served on conference and church-wide committees and boards including serving on the executive staff for the General Conference Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church Integration Committee and holding posts as both associate and interim general secretary for the Mennonite Church General Board in Elkhart, Ind.
- GC alumnus James E. Brenneman, senior pastor at Pasadena Mennonite Church, holds a master of divinity degree, from Fuller Theological Seminary and a doctorate in religious and Old Testament studies from Claremont Graduate School and has taught at both schools in addition to authoring two books and giving frequent presentations in church and school settings. He is also a former board member of the Center for Anabaptist Leadership.
- Howard Brenneman, president and chief executive officer of Mennonite Mutual Aid Inc. in Goshen since 1992 after serving the agency as a business and financial consultant, has served on the boards of numerous for-profit and non-profit organizations including two Mennonite colleges and, currently, Dutchman Hospitality, Goshen Health Systems, Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, The Troyer Group and MMA finance-related boards.
- GC faculty representative Victor Koop, professor of psychology since 1982, who received his undergraduate degree at Tabor College and went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate at the University of Waterlooand helped initiate a Sunday morning campus worship service for students in conjunction with College Mennonite Church where he is a member.
- GC alumnus and faculty representative Kathryn Meyer Reimer, professor of teacher education who received both post-graduate degrees including a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Illinois, and has served on numerous campus committees including Strategic Planning as well as with the Nurture Commission of Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference.
- A worship and music leader at GKI Indonesia Mennonite Church, Pomona, Calif., GC alumna Aveani K. Moeljono received a master’s degree in Christian formation from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in May 2004. She is also a practicing graphic designer in Los Angeles.
- A child and family therapist in Arizona, Arturo Montoya graduated from GC with a degree in Bible and religion, then joined Mennonite Central Committee – first in community development work in Nicaragua, then with the U.S. Peace Section Office. He has served on numerous boards including Witness for Peace and Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference.
- MEA Board of Directors is Connie Stauffer is a retired teacher and businessperson from Lancaster, Pa., who is currently chair of the Lancaster Mennonite School Board of Trustees and serves on her church Pastor Congregation and Leadership Discernment committees.
- GC Board of Directors Member Rebecca Stoltzfus is an associate professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University who formerly taught at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and has focused research in maternal and child nutrition in Africa. After recieving a bachelor’s degree at Goshen College, she earned both a master’s degree and a doctorate in nutritional sciences at Cornell.