Goshen College’s 18th president, Dr. Rebecca Stoltzfus, spent her first morning on the job on Nov. 1 delivering donuts to people and offices across campus.
Her aim was to introduce herself and get to know the people and locations of the college. She received a warm welcome from students, faculty and staff.
First Year Goals
On her second day, President Stoltzfus shared her four goals for her first year with all employees. The first is to build trust and relationships with faculty, staff, students, and the board of directors. She has already met individually with all board members and has plans to host a series of “soup talks” in her home during November and December with many groups of faculty, staff and students.
The second is to work to develop and increase diversified revenue streams for the college.
“We cannot deliver the quality of liberal arts education that is ‘distinctively Goshen’ without additional revenue streams,” she said. “This is true, even if we continue with successful enrollment efforts. This is a complex topic and one that requires more research, innovation and critical thinking by all of us.”
The third goal is to elicit and craft a new strategic narrative for Goshen College.
“Who are we and where are we headed?,” she asks. “Enrolling students and balancing the budget are essential fundamentals, but to thrive, we need to aspire beyond those fundamentals.”
The fourth goal is to strengthen and clarify governance through a culture and practice of leadership that is vibrant, efficient and transparent to the degree possible, and designed to bring the best decision-making to bear.
“I’m interested in student governance, faculty governance, the administrative governance of the college, our relationship with the board of directors, and the Mennonite Church,” Stoltzfus said.
To help position the college for further growth, Stoltzfus announced that she is creating a President’s Innovation Fund, which she is raising money for outside and above the current operating budget. Her goal is to raise $1 million by the end of the fiscal year, of which she has already raised over half, including contributions from all members of her cabinet leadership and the college’s board of directors.
“I am committed to leading with evident hope and joy,” she said. “I ask you to commit to support me and this Goshen College community with your excellence, your critical questions, your prayers and your good will.”
A week after taking office, on Nov. 8, Stoltzfus addressed the campus body for the first time as president during a welcome convocation.
Stoltzfus was introduced by her daughter Lydia Miller, a Goshen College senior majoring in mathematics. Her husband, Kevin Miller, a 1985 Goshen College graduate, and their son Gabe Miller, a Goshen College sophomore majoring in environmental science, were also in the front row for her speech.
In her speech, Stoltzfus expressed excitement about her new role.
“I am honored and glad to return to Goshen College, because I am optimistic about its future and want to be a part of creating it,” Stoltzfus said.
Borrowing a favorite phrase from U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt, she challenged students to “enter the arena” and make the most of their college experience by learning more than they thought they could, becoming part of the campus community, letting their souls shine and acting to make the world a better place.
“What do you want to do with this one wild and precious Goshen College experience?” she asked, referencing a poem by Mary Oliver.
The event concluded with a question and answer time led by students Abby King and Dez Lopez, as well as Provost Ken Newbold offering Stoltzfus several gifts for her new role.
President Stoltzfus’ inauguration ceremony will take place on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 at 10 a.m. in the Goshen College Music Center’s Sauder Concert Hall, with a week of special events.