Susan Schultz Huxman, director of the Elliott School of Comunication at Wichita (Kansas) State University, has been named the seventh president of Conrad Grebel University College. She begins her duties July 1, 2011, following the completion of Dr. Henry Paetkau’s term as the sixth president at the end of June, according to the board of governors making the announcement at a March 10 meeting.
A move to Ontario represents a homecoming of sorts for Dr. Huxman, as her father, Dr. Harold Schultz, was one of the first graduates from Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener. Her grandfather, A. J. Schultz, was involved in establishing Chesley Lake Camp, near Allenford, ON.
Dr. Huxman has held various administrative roles at WSU since 1990, balancing these responsibilities with her passion for teaching. She has also won numerous awards and recognition for her teaching while at WSU. She continues to teach and mentor students in writing, speaking, and research-intensive courses.
As an active scholar in the field of rhetoric, media literacy, and corporate communication, Dr. Huxman has published two dozen scholarly articles and book chapters. She is co-author with Karlyn Kohrs Campbell of The Rhetorical Act: Thinking, Speaking, and Writing Critically, 4th ed. (2009). Dr. Huxman’s dissertation: “In the world but not of it: Mennonite rhetoric in World War I as an enactment of paradox” has inspired several publications including a book in progress entitled, Landmark Speeches in U.S. Pacifism.
During her tenure as director of the Elliott School of Communication, Dr. Huxman has increased enrolment, launched a successful marketing campaign, and helped secure $4.6 million in gifts and grants for an endowed chair, scholarships, enhanced facilities and community outreach initiatives.
“I am delighted to serve Conrad Grebel where there is a clear connection between a world-class public university and Mennonite education,” says Huxman. “The Grebel academic model is forward-thinking and attractive. Opportunities for specialization combined with an Anabaptist faith overlay is `the best of both worlds’ that students today are seeking.”
“This is a superb appointment” says Bert Lobe, chair of the Grebel board. “Dr. Huxman is a teacher at heart, a person of the church, a prolific scholar and a gifted leader who has demonstrated the capacity to both listen carefully and to be gently assertive. She is the leader we need as we engage the opportunities ahead.”
In 2001, Dr. Huxman began serving two terms as chair of the College and University committee at the newly formed Mennonite Education Agency (MEA). A highly valued leader by MEA, she helped create a vision statement and strategic plan for Mennonite higher education in the Mennonite Church USA. “Mennonite education has been a significant part of my life,” Huxman notes. “From my formative years of growing up at Bethel College as the president’s daughter and attending as an undergrad to serving today in my congregation and on the executive board of Western District Conference.”
Dr. Huxman, her husband, Jesse, (Director of Content, KPTS-TV 8, a PBS affiliate) and their three children, Julia, 21, Emily 16, and Connor 13 live in Wichita, Kansas. They are active members of the Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church.
Dr. Huxman earned a B. A. in English from Bethel College, KS., in 1982, and an M. A. and Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Kansas in 1987. She joined the Speech Communication faculty at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. for three years before transitioning to the Elliott School of Communication.
Debra Simpson, chair of the Presidential Search Committee, which has been meeting since June 2010 observes, “The Search Committee is very pleased with the outcome of the search. Throughout the long and rigorous process, we have been impressed with the quality of candidates and the many gifted leaders that exist within the larger Mennonite world.”
“The mandate of the 7th president,” Simpson notes, “is to provide inspired leadership at a pivotal time in Conrad Grebel’s history. Dr. Huxman has the vision, skills, gifts, and experience to lead Conrad Grebel into an exciting and bold future grounded in its historical traditions and strong Anabaptist values and faith principles. We are delighted with her appointment.”
Founded by the Mennonite Church in 1963 and affiliated with the University of Waterloo, Grebel is expanding its mission with a graduate program in Theological Studies and the development of a Master’s program in Peace and Conflict Studies. The College regularly fills its residence, has had 14 years of balanced budgets and grown its endowments while laying the groundwork for a capital campaign that includes expansion for its library and archives.
“In getting to know Conrad Grebel,” Huxman says, “I have been most impressed with the authentic expression of its mission to seek wisdom, nurture faith, and pursue peace. This is indeed a wonderful opportunity to lead a vibrant university through a pivotal, pro-growth period in its history.”
--March 14, 2011