Presidents’ joint letter in ‘The Mennonite’ affirms Mennonite higher education institutions in ‘turbulent times’

Eastern Mennonite University President Susan Schultz Huxman has joined the four other leaders of Mennonite colleges and universities in a joint letter to address current challenges. The letter was published Dec. 21, 2017, in 'The Mennonite,' a magazine of Mennonite Church USA. (EMU file photo)

Eastern Mennonite University President Susan Schultz Huxman has joined the four other leaders of Mennonite colleges and universities to address current challenges, highlight collaborative efforts, and affirm the role of Mennonite higher education in a joint letter published Dec. 21, 2017, in The Mennonite.

The letter is among several features of the magazine’s January issue devoted to the status and impact of Mennonite education. The Mennonite is a publication of Mennonite Church USA.

The letter addresses tuition costs and financial aid; increased access, equity and success for low-income, first-generation and minority students; and career readiness.

Read Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman on the three C’s of Christian education: connections, community and counter-culture.

Huxman is joined in authorship by presidents James M. Harder, of Bluffton University; Joseph Manickam, of Hesston College; John Sheriff, of Bethel College; and Rebecca Stoltzfus, of Goshen College.

The letter begins:

As presidents of Mennonite Church USA’s colleges and universities, we are acutely aware that small private liberal arts colleges — especially religiously-affiliated ones like ours — are struggling against enrollment trends favoring large public institutions, and that we exist in a national system widely believed to be in crisis.

Key criticisms include soaring costs, unequal access by income, unequal inclusion and completion by race, and lack of responsiveness to the job market. These concerns have led to a general erosion of public trust in colleges and universities, and a recently approved tax bill that decreased support to low-income students and decreased the tax advantages of philanthropy, upon which we depend. Our purpose in writing together is to place the work of Mennonite colleges in this context, and to illustrate how we are working creatively and collectively to survive and thrive.

And concludes:

In the midst of turbulence, we remain confident and committed to strengthening our students, communities, denomination and society through the education we provide.

To read the full letter, click here.

Read more reflections on the status and impact of Mennonite education in the January issue of The Mennonite magazine. 

Read more about EMU’s ninth president, Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman.

Posted on January 2, 2018