Strength in transition for our future:
Goshen's challenge and opportunity
Goshen College Board of Directors
Greetings from the Goshen College Board of Directors. As many
of you know – from visiting the Goshen College Web site,
reading Goshen-area newspapers or national Mennonite publications
or hearing the news by word of mouth – I announced on Aug.
2 that Shirley Showalter has resigned as president of Goshen
College. She has accepted a position with Fetzer Institute of
I have had numerous occasions in the past number of weeks to
say that this transition presents us with both challenge and
opportunity. This is a time in the history of the college to
reflect on the institution’s past that has brought us 110
years into a vision for Mennonite higher education. We will fully
embrace the core values that have always been with the college,
now newly articulated, and use these defining beliefs – Christ-centered
passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking
and servant-leadership – to plan for the future and seek
out a new leader who may even now be sensing God’s call
to a new journey with Goshen College.
Upon receiving President Showalter’s letter of resignation,
the Goshen College Board of Directors met by conference call
and charged its Executive Committee – which includes Board
Vice-Chair Rick Stiffney, Board Secretary Elvin Kraybill and
myself – to begin working with Carlos Romero, executive
director of Mennonite Education Agency, at initiating several
immediate aspects of a transition plan.
The Executive Committee met with the college’s President’s
Council to define issues that will affect short- and long-term
planning. One measure of a good leader is to consider the strength
of people they have appointed to their team, and I am very confident
in the abilities of GC’s vice presidents to continue their
excellent work serving the college – from day-to-day budgeting
to academic affairs, overseeing residence hall construction to
leading the next step in the Advancing Goshen College strategic
In the past number of weeks, I have talked with many people who
love Goshen College. Many people expressed the feeling that they
have come to know President Showalter well in the past nearly
eight years. She feels this is the right time for her to be challenged
by new opportunities, and she wishes the same for Goshen College.
I hope you will find appropriate moments to express your good
wishes to Shirley.
There will be time to formally honor her – to recognize
the accomplishments of her administration, to recognize her as
an articulate spokesperson for Mennonite higher education and
to thank her for her sharing her many gifts with Goshen College
over the years. One event for the community is a special extended
chapel service scheduled for Sept. 20 in the Music Center; President
Showalter will give farewell remarks.
With the Board of Directors having authorized the Executive Committee
to develop an interim leadership structure and to appoint an
interim president, the Board met on Aug. 18 and expressed support
for John Yordy as interim president. Many of you know John as
provost in the Showalter administration, and others of you remember
him as a dedicated professor of chemistry. I have learned to
know him as an exceptional administrator who is well respected
on campus and in the church for not only his skills but also
his strength of character. He is deeply committed to Goshen College
and its Christian mission in education. I am very pleased that
he has accepted this responsibility.
At our Aug.18 meeting, the Board also spent time thinking strategically
about the college’s future, and how that influences the
choice of a future president. We will also be working at naming
a presidential search committee and defining the process that
committee will use for the selection of the new president.
The search committee will solicit input from many sources – including
faculty and staff, students, alumni, church and community leaders
and others invested in the future of the college in considering
the character and qualities for the next president. You will
hear more about the work of this committee as these processes
are defined and the committee begins its work.
Organizations are essentially shaped by its members, so this
is a time of mixed emotions. We wish to express our gratitude
to President Showalter for her service to Goshen College, and
to wish her well and to say good-bye to her as a leader, colleague,
teacher and friend.
We are also thinking forward to possibilities for the future – to
building on established foundations and considering new opportunities.
Goshen College has been blessed with incredible people, in the
past and present, and we will seek future leaders whose gifts
and skills will enhance the institution and who feel called to
join with the campus community and move it forward.
I am continually appreciative of GC’s faculty and staff,
who are faithful to its core values as they work to best serve
students and their families, alumni, the community and the church.
They know that Goshen College’s distinctiveness lies in
its roots, and that strengths there are pointing to a positive
future – because we have something special to offer to
the world, especially in the internationally connected complex
global circumstances of today.
This is a time of challenge, as well as a time of opportunity.
We need your prayers and your thoughts, your understanding and
your counsel as we move forward together. Let us all seek God’s
will for this community of faith and learning.
Virgil Miller has served on the Goshen College Board of Directors
since 1998. and became board chair in 2000. A resident of Archbold,
Ohio, he is president of Sauder Manufacturing Company and a member
of Zion Mennonite Church.