GOSHEN, Indiana — James E. Brenneman announced on Aug. 17 that he will step down from his role as the 16th president of Goshen College at the end of the 2016-17 academic year, concluding 11 and a half years of service to the college.
His third four-year term was set to run through June 30, 2018.
“This past year as I, along with the board of directors, have been considering succession planning here at Goshen College, it has seemed right and good to me and the board that this be my last academic year as president. This allows us time as a college to find a new president by June 30 to ensure a timely, yet, expeditious transition.”
He said he is eternally grateful to have served alongside such a dedicated and diverse faculty, staff, administrators, committed board members, loyal alumni, generous donors and supportive church and community leaders.
“No words adequately describe the abiding purpose, heartfelt emotions and immense blessing I have received every single day in serving such wonderfully creative, smart and faith-inspiring students,” he added.
Changes at the college over Brenneman’s tenure reflect the intercultural diversity of the worldwide Anabaptist body and the intercultural makeup of the communities the college serves, locally and globally.
Brenneman launched the Center for Intercultural and International Education in 2006 and three campus institutes in 2011: the Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism, the Institute for Ecological Regeneration and the Institute for Intercultural Leadership. The portion of international and intercultural students has grown from 18 percent in 2006 to 33 percent, and the Latino student body has increased from 5 percent to 16 percent.
Under Brenneman’s direction, the Goshen Core general education program was redesigned in 2012 to focus on intercultural, international, interdisciplinary and integrated learning. Online classes and e-portfolios made their debut, and the first master’s degree programs were added in nursing, environmental education, intercultural leadership and the collaborative master of business administration.
“We are more interculturally diverse in our makeup, more interculturally competent in our teaching practices and more confident in realizing our vision than ever before in the history of Goshen College,” Brenneman said. “There is no turning back, since this vision has been woven into the very fabric of Goshen College since our first president, Noah Byers, coined the motto, ‘Culture for Service.’ ”
Brenneman has also led the college to prominence for initiatives and programs in environmental and ecological sustainability. In 2007, he became the second Indiana college president to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment to work toward a carbon-neutral campus. He was invited by the White House to participate in the American Campuses Act on Climate roundtable last November.
The Goshen board of directors, in partnership with Mennonite Education Agency, is assembling a search committee to lead the process of finding Brenneman’s successor. Board member Faith Penner of Harper, Kan., has agreed to serve as chair.
Brenneman graduated from Goshen in 1977. He attended Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart and completed a master of divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. He continued his studies at Claremont (Calif.) Graduate University, earning master of arts in religious studies and doctorate degrees in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament studies.
An ordained minister in Mennonite Church USA, Brenneman was the founding lead pastor of Pasadena Mennonite Church, where he served for 20 years. He also served on the faculty at Episcopal Theological School at Claremont in Old Testament scholarship for 15 years.