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Messiah College is a Christian college of the liberal and applied arts and sciences, committed to an embracing evangelical spirit rooted in the Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan traditions of the Christian Church.

The mission of Messiah College is to educate men and women toward maturity of intellect, character, and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society.


Messiah College was founded by the Brethren in Christ Church in 1909 as Messiah Bible School and Missionary Training Home. First located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, it was moved in 1911 to the village of Grantham on the west shore of the Susquehanna River, to land donated by its first President, Samuel Rogers Smith.

In the early years Messiah offered a high-school curriculum and several biblical studies programs. By 1921 it had also become a junior college, the second in Pennsylvania. In the 1950s it developed four-year college programs in religious education and theology, subsequently added degree programs in the liberal arts, and discontinued the high-school level academy. A change of name—to Messiah College—intentionally reflected these academic advances. Following accreditation in 1963 by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, the College significantly increased the number of majors offered in the liberal arts and introduced degree programs in applied areas such as education, engineering, nursing, and social work, for a current total of more than fifty majors.

Growth in the academic program was naturally accompanied by an increase in the size of the student body and faculty and in the College facilities. From a first-year total of 38 students, the enrollment has grown to more than 2800, representing more than 60 denominations; this diversity is partly due to the College's policy, declared in its earliest official statements, of welcoming students from outside the Brethren of Christ Church. Facilities have increased from Old Main—used originally as both an academic and residential building—to more than 30 buildings valued at more than $95 million, located on a campus of 350 acres.

Other significant institutional developments have occurred within the last forty years. In 1968 Messiah College opened its Philadelphia Campus in collaboration with Temple University, the first cooperative arrangement in the United States between a church-related campus and a public university. The College in 1983 became the senior educational partner with Daystar Institute (now Daystar University ) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Messiah College played a leading role in the founding of the Christian College Consortium in 1971 and later of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. In 1972 the legal ties between the College and the Brethren in Christ Church were replaced with a covenant relationship in which legal ownership of the College was placed with a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees.

Two Presidents of Messiah College held notably lengthy terms of office. C. N. Hostetter, Jr. (President from 1934 to 1960), directed the College through the difficult years of the Depression and guided it into the beginning of its academic life as a four-year liberal arts college. D. Ray Hostetter presided for thirty years (1964-1994) over an expansion in virtually every facet of Messiah College's life.

Through the changes and developments of ninety-five years, some elements in the history of Messiah College have remained constant: an emphasis on education for service, a commitment to excellence, and the preeminence of Christ in all of the College's endeavors.


Early in his administration President Rodney J. Sawatsky directed several key initiatives. In collaboration with trustees, faculty, and students a new mission and identity statement was created, placing academic excellence and the College's Christian heritage and identity at the forefront. In the mid 1990's the Board of Trustees approved a strategic plan that articulated the College's foundational values, educational objectives, and emerging focal points for the twenty-first century. In 1999 the administration in collaboration with the trustees initiated an academic restructuring of the College that focused on enhancing student learning. This new structure consists of five interdisciplinary schools with five deans, united by a core curriculum and common learning experiences.

Pledging to be "rigorously academic and unapologetically Christian," Messiah College developed as an institution that educates Rhodes, Fulbright, and Truman Scholars as well as Carnegie Endowment Junior Fellows. Messiah College attracts high-caliber faculty who have received Fulbright Scholar, National Endowment, and other awards and who regularly publish books, articles, and reviews and present conference papers. In 2001 Messiah College received a $2-million grant from the Lilly Endowment. This prestigious award is entitled Christian Vocation: Service, Leadership, and Reconciliation and will promote the understanding of Christian vocation throughout the College's educational program. The promotion of excellence in cocurricular avenues of life at Messiah College includes the accomplishments of the College's athletes, as evidenced in multiple NCAA Division III runner-up and championships over the decade.

The successful completion in 1998 of the $10-million Campaign for the Sciences resulted in the construction of the Jordan Science Center. Providing state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories, the Center also houses the Oakes Museum. Boyer Hall, completed in 2003, is the largest academic building and is named in recognition of the College's most distinguished alumnus and trustee, Ernest L. Boyer, Sr. The building houses classrooms, offices and facilities for education, the humanities, and the social sciences. The Boyer Center, which facilitates scholarship advancing Dr. Boyer's ideas and contributions, is located in this new structure. The newly opened Larsen Student Union provides a space for student government, activities and social interaction. The current $50 million comprehensive campaign, To Serve and To Lead: The Campaign for Student Enrichment is now ending the third of its five years with seventy-five percent of funds pledged or received.

President Sawatsky retires effective June 30, 2004 , citing personal health reasons and a desire to spend more time with family. "This has been a very difficult decision for us, a decision we have struggled with ever since I was diagnosed with a brain tumor last March [2003]," said Sawatsky in a statement sent to College trustees, students and employees.


A strategic plan for Messiah College was approved by the Board of Trustees in May 2004. This plan outlines a set of commitments and initiatives—a vision—through 2009, the date of the College's centennial anniversary. The plan will guide the College as a new President is appointed and assumes leadership, without limiting the creativity of the new administrative team. The Centennial Plan remains true to the mission, identity, and vision that have been characteristic of the College's recent past, while it moves the College forward in significant ways—affirming the past, embracing the future, and striving to continue the College's efforts toward academic excellence.

In 2009 Messiah College will continue to be a premier institution of higher learning characterized as:

  • A Christian college that exhibits an embracing evangelical spirit rooted in the Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan understanding of scripture
  • A community of scholars where academic excellence is evidenced in every school and discipline
  • An institution with a comprehensive undergraduate curriculum
  • A predominantly residential college with a coherent and integrated curricular and cocurricular program designed to nurture holistic student maturity of intellect, character, and Christian faith
  • A college comprised of students and employees from diverse ethnicities and church affiliations
  • A college that engages multiple communities nationally and internationally
  • A community known for its joy, celebration, and affirmation of life
Guiding Principles
As a community of learners that strives for academic excellence and fidelity to the life and teachings of Jesus, and in keeping with its statement of foundational values, Messiah College shapes its strategic goals and operational objectives in accordance with the following principles:

Promote Student Learning. Messiah College advances a holistic learning environment that stresses intellectual challenge, open inquiry, collaborative scholarship, and artistic creativity, along with character formation, self-knowledge, mutual respect and understanding, spiritual development, and civic and global awareness and engagement, all in the context of vocation as a call to serve God and others.

Advance Faculty Teaching and Scholarship. In each school and discipline, Messiah College recruits and retains capable educators, fosters effective teaching, nurtures significant scholarship, and supports student mentoring and advising.

Foster Community. Messiah College seeks both students and employees from diverse populations, encourages a campus ethos that cultivates sensitivity to cultural difference and individual uniqueness, and fosters acts of reconciliation and peacemaking within the College specifically and in church and society generally.

Engage Society. Messiah College encourages students to learn and serve in venues beyond the Grantham campus, supports urban and international educational initiatives, and pursues partnerships for learning, service, and vocational development with diverse civic, business, educational, religious, and cultural institutions and organizations.

Assess Institutional Effectiveness. Messiah College manages its educational programs and campus operations efficiently and effectively, periodically reviews them to ensure that it optimizes resource allocation in the annual financial operating plan and expenditure of capital funds, and continually examines its programs and operations through assessment reviews in all sectors of the College community, including educational outcomes, operations effectiveness, and employee performance.

Shared Priorities
Through 2009 the College plans to establish annual and continuing program goals and performance indicators consistent with and in support of the priorities presented below:

1) To strengthen Messiah College as a Christian academic community:
  • To foster an engaged intellectual climate and culture of scholarship
  • To advance the identity and academic program of each school
  • To develop common learning to further the College's mission and identity
  • To nurture curricular and cocurricular coherence
  • To further programs and student participation in contextual learning
2) To assure a campus infrastructure consistent with the requirements of the College's educational program:
  • To shape enrolment in ways that enhance academic excellence, support initiatives toward ethnic diversity, and reflect varied church affiliations nationally and internationally
  • To undertake and implement a long-term comprehensive land-use plan
  • To secure funding for and construct and/or renovate facilities to support the College's educational and administrative program
  • To assure financial strength and accountability
  • To invest in and provide support for appropriate levels of technology
  • To ensure an employee base that supports the mission and identity of the College and is of high quality, appropriately compensated, and of positive morale
  • To strengthen the College's institutional image
3) To increase institutional effectiveness by fostering a pervasive campus culture that embraces review and renewal through careful planning and comprehensive assessment:
  • To identity strategic performance indicators as primary benchmark standards
  • To require and support ongoing assessment of educational programs, support operations, and campus personnel
  • To apply assessment findings to guide program renewal
  • To link program planning and financial budgeting


The Board of Trustees
Messiah College is governed by a 31-member self-perpetuating Board of Trustees, a committed group of business persons, professionals, educators, both lay and clergy, to whom the President reports. Trustees are elected for a term of four years, with a limit of two successive terms. The full Board meets three times a year. The Board officers and other appointed trustee representatives comprise the Executive Committee that conducts Board business, as necessary, between regularly scheduled meetings of the entire Board.

The President
The Board of Trustees appoints the President to serve as the chief executive officer of the College, having and exercising overall leadership. Serving as a non-voting member of the Board, he or she reports to and is assessed by the Board. The President shall develop, formulate and direct the College policy and governance in accordance with the policies of the Board.

Under the current organizational structure the following report directly to the President:

  • Provost
  • Vice President for Advancement
  • Vice President for Finance
  • Vice President for Operations
  • Vice President for Planning
  • Administrative Assistant

The Community of Educators
The paradigm under which Messiah College 's educational programs are designed is that of a holistic liberal education, recognizing the mutually enriching nature of curricular and cocurricular programming. The Provost gives leadership to all educational programming. However, curricular programming is primarily delivered through five academic schools led by individual Deans. Cocurricular programming is directed by the Dean of External Programs and Vice Provost/Dean of Students. College governance therefore includes the Community of Educators ( COE ), the body of full-time faculty and all other educators at the level of at least a master's degree. Their primary role is to work directly with students in established programs that carry out the community-wide educational objectives of the College.


Acknowledging the difficulty of painting a comprehensive word-picture of an individual, the Search Committee presents the following indications to begin to describe the person who will be the next President of Messiah College.

Christian Commitment
The President of Messiah College should:

  • Be a spiritually mature Christian displaying Christ-centered servant leadership that integrates faith and work
  • Be able to articulate and apply biblical principles in the life and work of the College community
  • Live the values of integrity, trust, service, and respect for others
  • Support and have an appreciation for the covenantal relationship between Messiah College and its founding denomination
  • Embrace people from diverse theological and denominational backgrounds
  • Sense a call from God to service
Commitment to Learning
The President of Messiah College should:
  • Have a deep commitment to academic excellence and a level of personal accomplishment in scholarship and teaching that reflects this commitment (i.e., an earned doctorate from an accredited institution)
  • Have a vision for the synergy between general education and disciplinary curriculum and between curricular and cocurricular programming
  • Promote the potential of and opportunities for a holistic Christian higher-education experience
  • Foster and communicate the meaningful integration of faith and learning in the lives and work of students and educators
Institutional Leadership
The President of Messiah College should:
  • Have experience in leading organizations that offer types of management problems and challenges comparable to those that would be found in a college of 3000 students and an organization with more than 500 employees
  • Possess sufficiently astute financial management skills to guide and support the staff in issues of fiscal policy, investment and institutional debt, and have an understanding of the relationship between planning and budgeting
  • Be skilled in telling the story of Messiah College and building relationships with persons, organizations, and businesses to develop sources of funding and other support for the College.

Relational and Communications Skills
The President of Messiah College should:
  • Be able to develop relationships at all levels, in both professional and social settings
  • Possess a personal warmth that invites trust and a personal integrity that never forfeits the trust that is offered
  • Be a well-rounded communicator in oral, written, and technological media
  • Have the ability to communicate about the College and a personal vision for its future with honesty and candor within and outside the campus community
  • Be accessible to students and prominently visible in many aspects of the life of the College, including support of the arts and of athletic and student organizations
  • Be noted for a collaborative spirit in dealing with all campus constituencies
  • Foster the community ethos of participation and collaboration at Messiah College , on a campus accustomed to being included in the discussion of new initiatives and major changes
Community and Global Awareness
The President of Messiah College should:
  • Have the ability to communicate effectively and build relationships with individuals and organizations in the region and around the world to advance the academic, social, and cultural programs of the College
  • Demonstrate personal, educational, and professional experience in diverse cultures
  • Promote the importance of international experience as part of a Messiah College education, whether it be a cross-cultural course, term abroad, or internship or job with an institution or company overseas.


For more information about Messiah College, please consult the website at (Pay particular attention to the section "About Messiah")

In order to help get a more complete picture of you and your interest in Messiah College , please provide responses to the following questions:

  1. How has your faith journey defined you as a person and prepared you to be President of a college rooted in the Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan traditions of the Christian Church?
  2. Discuss the marks of maturity of intellect, character, and Christian faith that must be nurtured in students if the College is truly to prepare them for lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society.
  3. Describe the essential elements of your leadership style and how this style would enable you to excel in organizational and fiscal leadership of Messiah College . Include a high and a low point from your past leadership experiences and tell us what you learned from them.
Please provide at least four references (include your pastor, supervisor(s), subordinate(s) and peer(s) ). Include phone and e-mail information.

Applications will be accepted until October 1, 2004. Submit (in WORD or .doc format) these responses along with your resume and references to:
Tommy W. Thomas, D.Phil. - Partner
Robert J. Stevenson - Senior Partner / Chairman

People Management International

Phone: 615/463-2800   FAX: 615/463-2944   E-mail:

(Please e-mail attachments in Word or .doc format.)

This Opportunity Profile has been posted on our web site

and can be accessed by going to that site, clicking on Searches/Current Searches/Education-Nonprofit and then going to the search titled:

Messiah College
Grantham, Pennsylvania

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