GC home page

Monday, October 20, 2003

Goshen College is a four-year Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition

Goshen College mourns death of Professor of Anthropology Ron Stutzman

GOSHEN, Ind. -- Goshen College is mourning the loss of a respected longtime faculty member, Professor of Anthropology Ronald Stutzman, who passed away in his home on the morning of Oct. 17 from complications with cancer. Stutzman taught at Goshen College for 23 years; he chaired the department of sociology, social work and anthropology and coordinated the intercultural studies program.

Said President Shirley H. Showalter said, "Communities have spirits, just as individuals do. When one member of a true community suffers, so do we all. When a respected faculty member dies just days after teaching his last class, our spirit fabric is torn and we grieve."


Stutzman was diagnosed with cancer in early July. Despite the rapid advancement of his illness, he was determined to continue teaching for as long as physically possible. He spent several hours in his office on campus two days before he died in the care of his family.


Goshen College Academic Dean Anita Stalter said that despite the treatment he was receiving early in the fall, Stutzman wanted to continue teaching. He used a microphone so that his voice would project for his students. "The spirit with which Ron taught clearly demonstrated his love for his field and vocation, and for Goshen College and his students. It seems that teaching energized him and, importantly, continued to connect him to the community which cares so much for him and his family," said Stalter. "Ron was much respected for his professional engagement and research -- for constantly learning and encouraging his students in best practices. He was also a dedicated faculty member who contributed to the life of campus over more than 20 years."


Stutzman received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Indiana University and went on to Washington University (St. Louis) to earn a master's degree and doctorate in anthropology. He dedicated significant professional research to issues in Latin and South America -- as a development consultant to World Vision and studying interethnic relations in Ecuador's Andean highlands. In the 1989-90 academic year, Stutzman served as the faculty leader of the Study-Service Term unit in Costa Rica.


In May, Stutzman led a group of 12 Goshen College students to Colombia, South America, for the month-long class, Doing Theology Abroad. The course examined issues of peace and justice in the context of the political and military struggles in Columbia.


Celeste Kennel-Shank (Jr., Washington, D.C.) traveled to Colombia with Stutzman's May term class last spring. "It amazed me how Ron spoke with me about dying with the same direct but gentle manner that he spoke about Colombian politics, social research and autumn in Goshen," she said. "He was devoted to his students in a way that blended the many roles a professor plays: teacher, mentor, friend, surrogate parent. That's what makes it so difficult to lose him."


Tom Meyers, director of international education and former professor of sociology, worked in an office next to Stutzman's for nearly two decades. "Ron was a person with deep convictions about the church, his community and the world. He was committed to the path of peace and considered his teaching to be part of the ministry of the larger Mennonite church," Meyers said. "His fervent desire was that his students would make a difference in the world. In whatever capacity they are called to in life he wanted them to work for equity and justice for all of God's people around the globe."


Showalter added, "One of the lasting legacies Ron leaves behind is the student-led worship collaboration between College Mennonite Church and Goshen College called Morning Song, which he joined with others at the church and on campus to start. On Oct. 4, Ron sang with the alumni at the hymn sing in Rieth Recital Hall."


The bells in the collegeÕs Union Building were tolled at 3:50 p.m. Friday in memory of Stutzman. Students, faculty and staff then gathered around the campus peace pole, located outside the Union, in reflection and prayer.


Visitation will be 3 to 5 and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the Fellowship Room at College Mennonite Church. There will be no viewing, and cremation will take place. There will be a memorial service at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at College Mennonite Church, with Pastor Firman Gingerich and Pastor Klaudia Smucker officiating. Memorial contributions may be given to financial aid for Goshen College international students and Semilla, the Latin American Anabaptist Seminary.

Born on April 21, 1942, Stutzman was married to Phyllis Dintaman Stutzman, a 1964 GC graduate. Their three adult children are Benjamin Stutzman of Goshen, a 1990 GC graduate; Rebekah Stutzman of Washington, D.C., a 1991 GC graduate; and Hannah Stutzman, a Yale University graduate student.


Goshen College, established in 1894, is a four-year residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The collegeÕs Christ-centered core values -- passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership -- prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron's Best Buys in Education, Kaplan's "Most Interesting Colleges" guide and U.S.News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges" edition, which named Goshen a "least debt college." Visit https://www.goshen.edu/.


Editors: For more information, contact Rachel Lapp at (574) 535-7571 or racheljl@goshen.edu or Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or jodihb@goshen.edu.



Goshen College
1700 S Main St
Goshen, Indiana 46526
phone: +1 (574) 535-7569
fax: 535-7660
web: arachnid@goshen.edu
other: pr@goshen.edu