Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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March 31, 2013

Goshen College president grateful for leadership role

GOSHEN — What is it like being president of Goshen College for Jim Brenneman?

“I believe in what August Turk called ‘goosebump leadership.’  Almost every morning I wake up with goosebumps when I consider the privilege it is to work alongside some incredible faculty members, coaches, staff and above all, amazingly bright, dedicated students,” Brenneman said. “On most days, I have the best job in the world. I love Goshen College, I love being part of this community and I have only the highest hopes for our common flourishing future.”

He answered other questions to share with readers.

How long have you been president at

Goshen College?

Since 2006. I moved from Southern California, where we lived for 26 years, to become President of Goshen College because I was captivated by the possibility of helping GC respond to the challenge of the shifting demographics of our region. GC has always been deeply committed to sending our students and faculty all over the world, but what would we do when the world moved next door?

What are some of the changes that you have made during that time?

Fortunately, for us, Lilly Endowment, Inc. gave Goshen College a very large grant soon after I arrived to help us transform our campus, our teaching and learning efforts, to provide scholarships for first generation Latino students, and to do the necessary research so other colleges and universities faced with similar demographic shifts might learn from the many changes we implemented to make GC a more welcoming place for many cultures.

What goals did you have when you became president and have they been achieved?

I helped the college articulate a new vision statement that challenged us to truly become a World House of Learning in the best sense of that word. We have been working hard from the boardroom to the classroom to make the necessary policy changes so that GC will be at least as diverse as the community in which we live. And we are getting there. This year 25 percent of our student body is made up of international and intercultural non-majority students, a significant increase over just five years ago. The future success of our graduates depends on them being global citizens able to work, create businesses and serve in the global marketplace.

What dreams or aspirations would you like to see the college obtain in the future?

Elkhart County is at or near the bottom of Indiana’s counties in college graduates, just as Indiana is near the bottom of the number of college graduates in the nation. My dream is that GC, the only four-year residential college in Elkhart County, will become one of the engines of economic revival in Elkhart County, indeed, in the whole region. I want Goshen College to become more and more integrated into the heart and soul of our region, so that everyone will proudly claim a bit of GC as their college; more of our graduates will stay in the area, start new businesses, work in our schools and hospitals, serve in government and other institutions of our community and become significant resources for our economic recovery.

What is your philosophy on education?

There is no excuse for not learning something new every day for the rest of your life. Everyone can become a life-long learner. And if you can get a college education, all the better. With our scholarships and loan programs and financial aid packages, for the price of a mid-size car, one can get a great education at Goshen College, among the top 10 percent of colleges in the nation. A car will rust out in a few short years, but education only appreciates over time and no one can ever take it away. The fact of the matter is, a person with one year of college out performs, out earns, outlives those without any college and every additional year of college only adds to those positive outcomes in a person’s life. I am a living example of a first-generation college student, whose trajectory in life grew exponentially because I was able to come to Goshen College when I was a young man. I was not exceptional by any means, I have seen the magic of education work for countless others in transforming their lives as well. It doesn’t have to be a college degree, but people should try to better themselves by learning something new every day and do so for the rest of their lives. Become a life-long learner.

What do you and your family enjoy doing out of the office?

My wife is a clinical psychologist who has her own private practice here in Goshen. I’ve been married 35 years to my closest friend and I get free therapy, too. Our son, Quinn, is a junior at Goshen High School. We love the wild and sometimes crazy ride of being band parents in what we think is one of the best music programs of any school anywhere. We have a big, 2-year-old dog named Farley and an 18-year-old old cat named Jazz. We love to travel, watch movies together and are connoisseurs of exotic and foreign cuisine.

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There has been discussion at West Goshen Elementary School to require mandatory student uniforms in the future. How do you feel about the prospect of mandatory student uniforms in a public school environment?

I think it’s an excellent idea that is way overdue
I think it’s a bad idea and would be restrictive for students and parents.
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