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CMU Board Names Pauls as Next President

Dr. Cheryl PaulsFebruary 3, 2012 – Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) Board of Governors takes pleasure in announcing the appointment of Dr. Cheryl Pauls as the university’s second president.  Pauls, who is currently a faculty member of CMU, assumes her new duties November 1, 2012. She follows President Dr. Gerald Gerbrandt, who retires June 30, 2012.

“Our Board is excited to appoint Dr. Pauls to this role,” says CMU Board of Governors Chair Marlene Janzen.  “We are grateful for the careful discernment and thorough process of the Search Committee that identified Pauls as both analytical and visionary, with a strong commitment to the mission and core values of CMU. Our Board is confident in her abilities to find creative ways to strengthen and broaden our student base, programming, funding structures, and constituent relationships.”

“I consider it an honour and joy to accept this position,” says Pauls, who is a graduate of one of CMU’s predecessor colleges, Mennonite Brethren Bible College (MBBC), and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of British Columbia. “I welcome the opportunity to engage in the CMU’s visionary commitment to ‘radical dialogue and generous hospitality’ in ways that are at once bold and compelling for the highly diverse groups of people that this university draws together.”

Currently a professor in Piano and Music Theory, Pauls is a well-established solo and collaborative pianist, known particularly for performances of new music and for multi-media worship events. Pauls has also undertaken research projects focused on the interface of studies in music theory and performance with those in memory, physiology, liturgy, and cultural expression.

Pauls’ administrative and leadership gifts have been recognized and utilized throughout her time at CMU.  From 2000 to 2007 she served as Coordinator of the Music Department, and played a key role in program development.  Since 2008 she has been Chair of the Shaftesbury Campus and member of the President’s Council.  Her keen sense of performance resulted in her regularly playing a lead role in planning major public events.

“The primary imperative of my role as CMU’s next president,” says Pauls, “is to support and sustain the impulse of the university’s mission so that it resonates both within and beyond the institution, and to work collaboratively to sustain the will and the capacities of our CMU community to achieve the university’s strategic goals and mission.”

“Each area of studies is vital to animating the CMU mission,” says Pauls. “The more the mission is put through the wringer of the rigorous beauties and strange apprehensions of each discipline, the more effectively that mission and its participants will act within today’s most urgent challenges and generous hopes.”

Search Committee Chair Ron Loeppky, who responded to the Board’s invitation in summer 2010 to lead the selection process, comments:  “In Dr. Cheryl Pauls, we are delighted to present a person who is well qualified academically, well connected with the church, has a clear understanding of the constituency, and a strong passion for the institution and for CMU’s vision and mission.”

Pauls’ nomination came from multiple sources, notes Loeppky.  “She was recognized both internally and externally for her special gifts and abilities in leadership.  Given her commitment to the institution, her passion for what CMU is and can become, her vast talents, and the personal leadership gifts she brings, our Committee feels she is well positioned to serve this institution.”

The Search Committee began its work in the fall of 2010. Loeppky notes: “We cast a wide net, advertised extensively, and received interest from across North America. We’re absolutely delighted with Cheryl Pauls’ qualities, enthusiasm, energy, and vision.”

Says Janzen: “We are pleased that in Cheryl Pauls we have found a president who creates an exciting dynamic for growth by building on legacy, living faithfully, inspiring creativity, and pursuing excellence.”

Born and raised in St. Catharines, Ontario, Pauls grew up in Grantham Mennonite Brethren Church.  Pauls has made her home in Manitoba since 1983. She and husband Bryan Harder have two boys, Nicholas and William. The family attends River East Mennonite Brethren Church in Winnipeg where she recently completed a term as church moderator. 

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CMU Seeks New President


CMU is launching its presidential search for a successor to current President Gerald Gerbrandt, who completes his term on June 30, 2012. CMU’s presidential search website goes live Friday, February 18 to mark the launch of the search.

Gerbrandt has served as a president at CMU since its inception in 2000.  For the first three years CMU was led by a team of three presidents, each representing one of the founding colleges – Gerbrandt (Canadian Mennonite Bible College), John Unger (Concord College) and George Richert (Menno Simons College).  In 2003 Gerbrandt became the first sole president of CMU.

“Gerald has been a gift to CMU,” says Ron Loeppky, chair of the Presidential Search Committee. “He has brought many administrative, teambuilding, and visionary talents to CMU; as a result, the institution has grown and thrived.”

Under Gerbrandt’s leadership, says Loeppky, CMU has experienced continual expansion in academic programming, educational settings, and enrolment, with CMU now serving about 1,750 students. Gerbrandt has also been involved in CMU’s numerous capital initiatives, was instrumental in shaping a significant visioning initiative and guided the process for CMU’s acceptance as a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada in 2008.

“On one level, the greatest highlight has been seeing a dream, a vision, gradually become a reality over a 10-year period,” reflects Gerbrandt on his time leading CMU. “On another level, the students are the greatest satisfaction. Students are the reason CMU exists.”

Gerbrandt’s term was slated to end in June 2011; however, he accepted the CMU Board of Governors’ invitation to extend his term for another year.

The Board appointed a Presidential Search Committee, headed by Loeppky, in November 2010.

“The Committee will now begin the process of receiving nominations and applications and then evaluate and interview potential candidates.” says Loeppky.

The new president, under the Board’s direction, will lead CMU according to its mission, vision, and core commitments—based on biblical principles and rooted in Anabaptist-Mennonite and evangelical perspectives—as well as oversee all aspects of CMU, including academics, student life, enrolment and marketing, administration and finance, development, strategic planning, and external relationships.

“As CMU moves into the next phase of its growth and development,” says Loeppky, “the president will fulfill a key leadership role in providing vision, developing new academic programs, campus and faculty development, and constituency relations.”

“My vision for CMU is that it continue to grow and mature in drawing and inspiring students in their commitments of faith, in representing an Anabaptist witness for peace and justice in our society, and in resourcing the church”, adds Gerbrandt.  “CMU has amazing potential; I trust over the coming years this will be realized even more fully.”

A full description of the position, which is anticipated to commence July 1, 2012, is available at

Canadian Mennonite University is an innovative Christian university, rooted in the Anabaptist faith tradition, moved and transformed by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Through teaching, research, and service, CMU inspires and equips women and men for lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society.