Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

March 6, 2012

WHO WE ARE: Goshen College alumni have integrated into the local community

GOSHEN — The integration of Goshen College and the surrounding community of Goshen appears to be a robust two-way street.

Over the past five years, Elkhart County residents have represented 30 percent of the enrollment at Goshen College and a sizeable percentage of those who graduate are staying in the immediate area.

And the college itself seems to be reaching out into the community and making an impact.

In the 109 years since the college relocated from Elkhart to Goshen — at the request of business leaders in Goshen — the college has slowly become more and more immersed in the community.

College President James Brenneman said he believes the college is turning the corner in efforts to more aggressively become part of the community.

“It’s ebbed and flowed over the years,” Brenneman said, “but I certainly want to make it a hallmark of my work as president of the college to increase that as much as we can.”

While Indiana has struggled with the ‘brain drain’ phenomena in which college graduates find work outside the state where they were educated, Brenneman says Goshen College has seen many of its graduate remain in the area.

According to the college, more than 20 percent of graduates currently make Elkhart County their home.

“We’ve actually been an asset in that regard,” he said. “It says a lot about the community, not just the college. People come and they love it here and they imagine raising their family here.”

Alumni have an impact

The result, over the years, has seen a large number of graduates deciding to take root in Goshen.

While assessing the impact Goshen College is having on the community might be hard to quantify, Dave Daugherty, president of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce, says it is clear.

“The list goes on and on and on of the people who are here and in business and started businesses here who are Goshen College grads,” Daugherty said. “It has had a tremendous impact on our community. There’s no doubt that it’s a significant part of who we are as a community.”

The breadth and impact of GC grads in the community over the years is impressive, especially in the areas of education and medicine.

Consider the following:

Bruce Stahly, the longtime superintendent of Goshen Community Schools, is stepping down and will be replaced by fellow GC graduate, Diane Woodworth.

Don Jantzi, principal at Chamberlain elementary, is a GC graduate.

In the medical field, Goshen College has had a strong relationship with IU Health Goshen Hospital located just west of the campus.

In addition to the many nurses who have worked at the hospital over the years, Dr. Doug Schwartzentruber helped shape Goshen Center for Cancer Care at IU Health Goshen Hospital and was recently promoted to medical director of IU Health Cancer Services.

And then there is the Goshen Family Physicians Clinic, a collection of GC graduates who went on to become doctors and returned to serve the community and the campus. The clinic includes Tim Thut, who has practiced family medicine in Goshen for more than 30 years. Other doctors who work there and are GC grads include Barbara Meyer, Carla Mishler, Lane Reed, Amanda Schmidt and Bethany Wait.

Attracting that many doctors with a Goshen College connection is more of a coincidence. But with the difficulty in finding and recruiting doctors, Thut said, “The college is an attraction for doctors coming back.”

Goshen College graduates have also made an impact in elected office, a fact made clear by some Republicans last fall in a controversial ad published days before last year’s municipal election in which they pointed out the preponderance of GC grads on the Democratic ticket.

While some of those candidates lost, Goshen City Council still includes Everett Thomas and Julia Gautsche. And Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman, who graduated from the college in 1971, is now in his 15th year of running city hall.

On the Republican side of the equation, another GC graduate, Wes Culver, is a state lawmaker representing much of Goshen.

Making an effort

The college has also ingrained itself into the community through various efforts over the years. A preschool program launched by the  college 15 years ago, Campus Center for Young Children, serves the campus and the surrounding area. The vast amount of fine arts events on the campus are open to the public and the college also helps sponsor activities at Goshen High School.

Officials at GC have made inroads in helping direct long-range plans in Elkhart County. Goshen College is a member of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce and is a participant in the Horizon Project, a community-based group that is striving to improve public education in the county.

Brenneman serves on the board of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County.

“We’re really trying to participate more fully in the life of the community,” Brenneman said.

But possibly the most unique steps toward that goal are being driven at Ignition Music, a new store in the downtown that sells music, hosts live performances and will eventually feature a broadcast booth run by WGCS, 91.1-FM, The Globe, the college radio station.

The store is the brainchild of GC alum Steve Martin and Jason Samuel, the general manager of the station who is also a faculty member.

“It plops us right there in the heart of the downtown,” said Brenneman. “This happens to be a case where a college program is very visible in a store that an entrepreneur, a GC alum, is starting, and the symbolism is powerful. “It represents a lot of the vibrancy that’s happening in the town and the relationship between the college and the town.”

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