This presidential column originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of The Bulletin.
BY REBECCA J. STOLTZFUS ’83, President of Goshen College
“WHERE THERE IS no vision, the people perish.” This familiar Proverb (29:18, KJV) is freshly paraphrased in The Message: “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves.” Well, we certainly can’t afford that!
What if God is the lead actor, and our vision and mission are a matter of aligning with God’s work in the world in 2019? In these first 18 months that I have been president, we have worked to make visible what God is doing as we have discerned new mission and vision statements for the college. If ever there was a time to be crystal clear about them, this is it. As higher education becomes more and more generic and secular, we asked what is our distinctive, Spirit-led mission?
Our new mission statement is a fresh articulation of what we do today, and what we have been doing for nearly 125 years. We transform communities by acting as courageous, creative and compassionate leaders. In claiming the word “leaders” in this way, it is clear that we are not talking about job titles or positions. Rather, leadership is a form of social and spiritual influence that transcends position.
How do we nurture transformative leaders? By combining the key ingredients of academic excellence, real-world experience and active love of God and neighbor. This is what makes us “distinctively Goshen.”
Our new vision statement arose from the many “Soup Talks” around our dinner table in the first two months of my presidency with 128 students and employees. And this vision statement is meant to focus our work for the next five to seven years.
From faculty, staff and students we heard the call for a greater sense of joy, growth and purpose as hallmarks of the Goshen experience. And we envision staying rooted in the ways of Jesus that are bringing about inclusive community and transformative justice in the students we welcome to our campus and in the skills and dispositions with which we equip them.
For all of us who belong to Goshen College, it is our unique privilege to steward our mission and to bring our vision to life through our lives, programs, teaching and relationships. And a particular thanks to each of you for being living embodiments of our mission as you serve your communities and the world as courageous, creative and compassionate leaders.
Goshen College transforms local and global communities through courageous, creative and compassionate leaders. Shaped by Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition, we integrate academic excellence and real-world experience with active love for God and neighbor.
Goshen College will cultivate joy, growth and purpose, preparing students to thrive in life, leadership and service.
Rooted in the way of Jesus, we will seek inclusive community and transformative justice in all that we do.