HARRISONBURG —Eastern Mennonite University is looking ahead at the upcoming school year with intentions of remaining a strong educational institution in the Valley.
President Susan Schultz Huxman, along with other members of the higher education community, met with the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce this week for the kickoff of the “unofficial” start to the new school season and discussed the highlights of EMU’s journey so far and what lies ahead.
“As vibrant higher [education] institutions, all four of us share common cause with the Chamber,” she said Monday in reference to EMU, James Madison University, Bridgewater College and Blue Ridge Community College. “Our business model, like the chamber’s, is built on four principles: Leading, advocating, networking and promoting.”
This year, EMU graduated its 101st class of students, including a large undergraduate class of 486 students. A joint commencement was observed between the university and the seminary, EMS. It is the second year that the two have graduated together, according to Huxman.
“It is a wonderful occasion to showcase our seminary and our roots as a Bible college,” she said.
Part of EMU’s impact also lies in the diversity of its student body with pupils from areas like Indonesia and China to those with roots in the Valley and surrounding region, Huxman said in her address.
These students may come from all over, but one of the continued goals at EMU is to encourage them to become a part of the community and lay down roots with what they learn.
“What a gift we shepherd at EMU encouraging graduates to advance the Commonwealth — to stay here and raise families, excel in the workforce, serve their churches and neighborhoods and nonprofits and contribute mightily to the common good,” she said.
Student outcomes and outside recognition also point to the school’s local impact.
“Ninety-nine percent of all our grads are employed, in graduate school or serving intentionally in volunteer roles within six months of graduation,” Huxman said Monday. “That’s amazing.”
EMU won the 2019 CASE Educational Fundraising Award, an honor given each year to exceptional fundraising programs at educational institutions in the country. The institution, according to Huxman, was recognized for overall performance and analysis of three years in a row of fundraising data.
EMU received in total $5.2 million in gifts, and university annual fund contributions totaled just over $1.7 million or 3.5% over last year. This comes on the heels of 2018 — the school’s best fundraising year ever, Huxman said.
EMU was also named by U.S. News & World Report among the top regional universities in the south, based on several factors, including the average grade point average of last year’s first-year class, an all-time high of 3.6 GPA.