Imagination that embraces the world

This presidential column originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of The Bulletin.

BY REBECCA J. STOLTZFUS ’83President of Goshen College


“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – ALBERT EINSTEIN

One of the defining features of Goshen College is the boldness of our imagination — especially imagination that embraces the world. We were founded by dreamers who imagined that the Mennonite church could embrace liberal arts education, and we were later shaped by those who imagined that our core curriculum could embrace a full semester of immersive education in global cultures and economies very different from our own.

Throughout these innovations, Goshen College has stretched its tendons, sometimes sorely; but our connections hold. Our faith in a mission that embraces the world is alive and well. It has made us who we are.

This issue of the Bulletin features three stories that exemplify the bold imagination of Goshen College — examples of how imaginative leaders have embraced the world with visionary dreams that are bearing fruit in these present times.

We embrace the growing number of Latino families and students of all ages in our region. Twenty years ago, leaders of Goshen College imagined our city and region enriched and transformed by Latino immigrants as eager for higher education as our rural Mennonite founders. Today, Goshen College is viewed as a leader in attracting, serving and graduating Latino students, including many who are first-generation college students. Our Latino students enliven our classrooms, our athletic fields, our performing arts stages and our celebrations. They are helping to define and shape the Goshen College of the future.

We embrace the ocean. It took bold imagination for professors from Northern Indiana to dream of a marine biology program. But since 1966, more than 1,000 students have studied marine biology in the Florida Keys, thanks to the J.N. Roth Marine Biology Station and C.F. Bishop Laboratory. Today, our students have unparalleled opportunities to connect with the fragile coral island archipelago where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico, and to respond to the urgency of climate change. Our marine biology station is also an anchor for partnerships with Goshen High School, Central Christian High School (in Kidron, Ohio) and numerous higher education partners.

We embrace the global Anabaptist movement. Today there are some 2.1 million Anabaptist-Mennonites in the world, representing 305 groups in 87 countries. Founded in 2011 by John D. Roth, professor of history, the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism (ISGA) seeks to help North American Mennonites and Goshen College students better understand the nature of the global church and nurture a closer sense of fellowship among Anabaptist-Mennonites around the world.

Goshen College is not only ever singing, but ever dreaming and boldly aspiring.