October 2010 Event Featured Reflections on CMU’s First Decade
Canadian Mennonite University kicked off its 10th Anniversary year with an October 29 celebration in the CMU Loewen Athletic Centre. Friends, faculty, staff, alumni, and students gathered to celebrate the realization of an exciting vision – to establish a Christian university in the heart of Canada, open to all, founded on Anabaptist beliefs and traditions. A young university had come of age.
“As we mark 10 years of operation, the atmosphere at CMU is remarkably different from that of the early years,” said CMU President Gerald Gerbrandt. “Student numbers have grown dramatically; committed faculty, working as a team, offer expertise in a growing number of disciplines; CMU’s financial support remains stable; and internal structures have matured. And, as a member of the Association of Canadian Universities and Colleges of Canada, CMU is recognized by sister universities nationwide.”
CMU was founded through the coming together of Concord College, Canadian Mennonite Bible College (CMBC), and Menno Simons College (MSC), growing on the spirit of cooperation and a shared vision to create a Christian liberal arts university offering full university accreditation.
Gerbrandt noted that CMU’s Menno Simons College is increasingly recognized as the premier centre for peace and justice studies in Canada; CMU’s unique Outtatown program provides an amazing blend of international experiential learning; and Shaftesbury programs have grown to include business, communications, the sciences, and pastoral leadership development. “CMU is successfully established as a small, faith-based university serving the Mennonite church and the broader society,” he said.
“The 10th Anniversary Celebration was permeated with a deep sense that we have cause for gratitude,” said Vice President External Terry Schellenberg, who served as master of ceremonies for the October event. “As Helmut Harder suggested in his Blazer article, The Emergence of a Mennonite University, the coming together of three colleges into one university and the faithful growth that has followed have not been inevitable – indeed, we might call it a ‘miracle.’”
“CMU’s commitments– educating for peace and justice, learning through thinking and doing, engaging in generous hospitality and radical dialogue, and modeling invitational community – are alive and well,” said Schellenberg.
Vice President Academic Earl Davey noted that CMU lives out of a commitment to be a university community that seeks God. “CMU provides a place in which one can expect to experience a transformation of heart and mind, a place in which the pursuit of God is the work of the one and the many,” said Davey. “What a gift it is to experience this common pursuit in both the extraordinary and ordinary of academic life.”
John Derksen, Associate Professor in Conflict Resolution Studies, reflected on the significant work of Menno Simons College which he described as being ‘smack at the intersection of the church and the world.’ “With my students,” said Derksen, “I get to teach and learn about peace – peace with God, peace with oneself, peace with our neighbours, and peace in the world. How much richer can this get, than to engage with the youth of the world, the leaders of tomorrow, on the biggest questions of life?”
Paul Kroeker, Dean of International Programs and Outtatown Director , viewed the celebration as an opportunity to examine God’s blessing and seek God’s guidance for the years to come. He reflected on the ways in which CMU’s core commitments are mirrored through the vision and mission of CMU’s Outtatown Discipleship School.
Associate Professor of New Testament Sheila Klassen Wiebe and Assistant Professor of English Sue Sorensen reflected on some of the special qualities that lie at the heart of CMU’s ethos – seeking God, nourishing transcendence, fostering community, and loving one another.
Also speaking at the event was founding Board member and long time CMU supporter Art DeFehr who was personally involved in establishing CMU. He reflected that CMU has a future overflowing with possibilities. “Many contributed to CMU’s creation 10 years ago,” said DeFehr. “There was strong and visionary leadership inside the institutions, the Boards, in the denominations, and from individuals. Those involved in the negotiations and the design for CMU were successful in the creation of a legacy with possibilities well beyond the present.”
In closing the October anniversary program, Schellenberg acknowledged the contribution of alumni and current students to CMU’s success. “Their giftedness, integrity, and faith are making a difference for good,” said Schellenberg. “Indeed, they embody the mission upon which CMU is grounded, seeking to ‘inspire and equip women and men for lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society.’”
For further information and reflections, refer to CMU’s Special 10th Anniversary Edition – CMU’s The Blazer, Fall 2010. Refer to CMU’s Events listings for details on other Anniversary events.