President Jim Brenneman reappointed to third term; names Dr. Lee Snyder as interim provost

A joint release of Goshen College and Mennonite Education Agency
Jim Brenneman
Goshen College President Jim Brenneman was recently reappointed to a third four-year term.

The Goshen College Board of Directors and Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) Board of Directors are pleased to announce the reappointment of Dr. James E. Brenneman as president of Goshen College for a third four-year term.

Brenneman’s reappointment, which begins July 1 and continues through June 30, 2018, was recommended by a Presidential Review Committee, which was jointly formed by GC Board of Directors and the Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) Board of Directors. Ken Hochstetler, a GC board member, led the committee, which also included Phil Bontrager (vice-chair of the GC board), Brenda Srof (chair of the GC Nursing Department), Roy Williams (MEA board member) and ex-officio member Carlos Romero (MEA executive director).

The reappointment was made at the May 30-31 GC Board of Directors and the June 2 MEA Board of Directors’ meeting. MEA, located in Elkhart, Ind., is the education agency of Mennonite Church USA.

“This action reflects our strong support for President Brenneman and his vision, which we share,” said Rick Stiffney, outgoing chair of the GC Board of Directors. “We believe that Goshen College offers the world an important Christ-centered, interdisciplinary, intercultural and international education from an Anabaptist perspective. He is the right leader for the college at this time to carry that vision forward.”

Brenneman is the college’s 16th president and began serving in this role in 2006. “I am humbled and honored to accept my reappointment to another term as president of Goshen College, to which I continue to feel deeply called. I am especially thankful for the wide support I have received as visionary-in-chief during this helpful review process,” said Brenneman, a 1977 GC graduate.

“In this time of great changes in higher education, I am committed more than ever to help Goshen College become even more accessible to more students, while maintaining our historic commitments to academic quality and remaining rooted in the Anabaptist tradition,” he added.

Hochstetler affirmed Brenneman’s leadership in helping the college become more culturally diverse and relating with external groups. “During his first eight years, Jim has championed the creation of a more diverse faculty and student body, and continues to positively grow relationships with external constituencies,” he said. “His pastoral approach serves him very well in these settings.”

Hochstetler also expressed appreciation to the many persons – students, employees, board members, alumni, Mennonite Church USA leaders and community leaders – who took time to respond to the committee’s survey and offered constructive input. The committee began their work in September 2013.

The presidential review process is designed to survey the GC constituency, receive feedback and gather information concerning the president’s performance. “We do this in order to create a framework for a positive and successful future of the institution,” said Romero. “The review offered both the GC and the MEA Board an opportunity to hear and learn from the perspectives and experiences of the staff, faculty and greater constituency. The learnings provided an opportunity to consider new ways of working that will result in strengthening the institution, its vision and its leaders.” 

Malinda Berry, chair of the MEA Board of Directors and a 1996 GC graduate, said, “As one of the oldest Mennonite college campuses, Goshen is a significant part of our denominational heritage. I am hopeful that Jim’s vision for Goshen will contribute to a strategy that will build a student body that reflects the past, present and future of Mennonite Church USA.”

Born in Kalona, Iowa, and raised in Tampa, Florida, Brenneman graduated from Goshen College and he completed a master of divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1982. At Claremont Graduate University, he earned a master of arts degree in religious studies in 1991 and a doctorate in 1994.

Ordained in 1986 as a credentialed Mennonite minister, Brenneman was the founding lead pastor of Pasadena (Calif.) Mennonite Church, and spent 20 years there. An Old Testament scholar, he also served on the faculty of Episcopal Theological School at Claremont (Calif.), the Claremont School of Theology and Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, Calif.)

Brenneman is the author of On Jordan’s Stormy Banks: Lessons from the Book of Deuteronomy (Herald Press, 2004) and Canons in Conflict: Negotiating Texts in True and False Prophesy (Oxford University Press, 1997).

He is married to Dr. Terri J. Plank Brenneman, a clinical psychologist and also a 1977 GC alumnus. They are the parents of Quinn, a recent high school graduate.

Lee Snyder was appointed as provost/executive vice president at Goshen College
Lee Snyder was appointed as interim provost/executive vice president at Goshen College

President announces new interim provost

As Brenneman prepares for his third term, he is making some changes. “I am pleased to announce that I am creating a provost/executive vice president position on my leadership team to help run the day-to-day operations of the college while I primarily focus on external relations,” he said. “And I am most grateful and delighted that Dr. Lee Snyder has accepted my invitation to this role on an interim basis for the 2014-15 academic year. She brings incredible experience and wisdom from higher education and church leadership roles, which will be invaluable for the work ahead.”

Snyder was the eighth president of Bluffton (Ohio) University, where she served from 1996 until retiring on July 31, 2006. She was the college’s first female president. Previously, Snyder worked at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Harrisonburg, Virginia, as the vice president and academic dean for 12 years. She joined the EMU faculty in 1974 and taught part time in the humanities and in English while serving as an assistant in the dean’s office from 1974 to 1982. Snyder returned to EMU to serve as interim provost for the 2008-09 school year.

A native of Harrisburg, Ore., Snyder attended EMU for one year and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon. Later she received a master’s degree in English literature and linguistics from James Madison University and a doctorate in American and Victorian literature from the University of Oregon.

Snyder and her husband, Delbert W. Snyder, taught in Nigeria from 1965 to 1968. She has also held assignments in Asia and Latin America. Her many board and association assignments include: chair of the China Educational Exchange Board, chair and moderator of Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA and a member of Mennonite Health Services Alliance Board of Directors.

Snyder and her husband, who have two adult daughters, now divide their time between Salem, Oregon and Harrisonburg, Virginia. They are members of Community Mennonite Church, in Harrisonburg, and associate members of Salem Mennonite Church in Oregon.

–  By Jodi H. Beyeler