Duane Stoltzfus, professor of communication, will be stepping down from his position as faculty adviser for The Record at the end of this school year. This is his last issue in that position, as Anna Groff, assistant professor of communication, will be stepping in for the fall semester and beyond.

To honor him, Daniel James reached out to previous editors of The Record who served during Stoltzfus’s tenure as adviser over the past 24 years and asked for them to share their experiences and reflections.

Comments have been edited for space and clarity.

When Duane arrived at Goshen College, he was tasked with advising a newspaper with no student editor, so those of us who had enrolled in his intro to journalism course took turns at the helm of The Record. The next semester, he took a big risk in asking me, a sophomore with no journalism experience, to be editor (I think I was the only one he asked who said yes…). Duane had confidence in my abilities and mentored me through a challenging semester, and what an opportunity for growth! I’m grateful for our friendship, which continues to this day.

– Andrew Clouse, Spring ’01

I had the pleasure of being Duane’s student when he started at Goshen College and was among the first Record editors that he advised. From the beginning, he brought a passion for journalism and high professional standards, and we could always look to him as a resource. It was helpful to hear his perspective from working at the New York Times, and his advising helped me gain confidence as a news writer and editor. As I continue to work in communications and interact with journalists more than 20 years later, I often remember Duane’s advice when choosing my words.

– Timothy Shenk, May ’01

When Duane first visited Goshen College before being hired, I was asked to drive him back to the airport. As he left, he gave me a copy of a recent New York Times postmortem from his work as a copy editor. I drove away in awe and with a new excitement for journalism. From Duane I learned the utter necessity of independent news organizations for the healthy function of democracy. The AP style guide, front to back. The importance of a clear editorial voice in the Record, even when you stay up all night for it. Thank you, Duane!

– Laura Graber Nickel, Fall ’01

I particularly remember his patience during a late-night disagreement between me, Jessica and Sasha Dyck (associate editor) about a late-breaking story and whether it should go above the fold or below. We decided to call Duane for advice. He asked us if we wanted to follow the conventions or do something different, and then backed us up as we decided. He guided us in figuring out more than the layout or decision-making process; he taught us how to balance strong editorial opinions so that our conflict was healthy and our resolutions were meaningful.

– Laura Yoder, May ’02

Duane was new to his role with the Record when I was an editor. In the fall of my senior year, I was a page editor, but I was recovering from a serious mental health crisis. Duane supported me in stepping back from that commitment, and, when I was ready, he supported me as The Record editor for May term. Twenty years later, I’m impressed with his ability to let us students make mistakes and then step in and guide us when we needed it. He understood that supporting our development as leaders and humans was important.

– Timothy Nafziger, May ’03

One of the things that I appreciated most was how good Duane was in providing feedback on what worked and what didn’t, and how to think through that process each week. I was grateful that he took the time to meet with the editors each week, but in hindsight I think it is really impressive that he made it a priority to be engaged at that level (and there was always good advice any time I had a question to ask). It speaks to the kind of person and professor that he is.

– Landon Yoder, Spring ’04

Duane gave me an incredible chance to be The Record’s editor. I studied physics and wrote and edited The Record because I loved it. I’m incredibly thankful to this day for the opportunity — it changed the course of my life. There is one day I will always remember. One of our designers liked to add fake headlines so he could visualize the page. One night, we forgot about the headline, and the next day at review, Duane said, “I’m sure it’s some sort of young person reference I don’t understand: ‘Kite Flying and the Magic of Longer Headlines.’”

– Rebecca Stucky, Fall ’05

Editing The Record was the most significant experience in my college career. Duane offered the perfect balance of support and empowerment, and an unwavering commitment to independent student journalism. He positioned himself as open and ready for questions at any time, but never meddled or second guessed my decisions. He also taught me the importance of using outside sources and research in opinion writing (For the Record).

– Anna Groff, Spring ’06 (adviser-to-be)

Duane is an outstanding adviser and an even better human being. His belief in my abilities as an angsty college student helped propel me into a successful career in law.  I consider it a privilege that we have stayed in touch for the better part of two decades since my graduation, including an occasional interaction with his Media Law and Ethics class. Congratulations and thank you!

– Eric Bixler, Spring ’07

Duane got us off campus, sometimes for reporting, and sometimes for a class with the goal of visiting all the local coffee shops. He valued the independence of the paper, and encouraged both the News and Funnies pages.

– James Stuckey Weber, Spring ’08

As I reflect on my time at Goshen College, Duane’s guidance stands out as a beacon of inspiration and wisdom. His commitment to nurturing critical thinking and a deep appreciation for the craft of writing left an indelible mark on me. His constructive feedback always landed with purpose and grace. Duane not only helped me grow as a writer and editor, but his leadership enriched the entire communications department. His dedication to cultivating inquisitive minds will continue to resonate with all who had the privilege of learning from him. Thank you, Duane, for being an exceptional adviser and teacher.

– Emily Dougherty, Fall ’08

It wasn’t just what he taught, it was how he taught. Duane ensured I learned the elements of journalism, but it was how he communicated and how he carried himself that impacted me the most. When we’d sit down to review the latest issue of The Record, he never said, “You should have…” He’d ask, “Why did you decide to… Have you considered… What if…” He would offer a thought or an idea, then let me wrestle with it, develop it, own it and, crucially, always let me make the final call. This I believe: He believed in us.

– Sheldon Good, Spring ’09

I would have never thought to pursue Editorship at the Record. But Duane saw something in me I did not see in myself, and that changed my perspective on what kinds of opportunities might be available to me in general. I still use skills I practiced that semester all the time. I write every day, publish writing regularly, and love “pulling the thread” of a story to see how far it goes, a metaphor Duane liked to use in class. I can see Duane doing a little “thread pulling” motion with his hands. Thanks for everything Duane, you’re fantastic!

– Chase Snyder, Fall ’09

Duane is observant, deeply kind, humble, and such a talented author. His ability to authentically connect with a wide variety of people is something I’ve admired in him and have strived to live out in my own life. I got a special glimpse of these qualities during my time on SST in Peru, in which Duane and Karen were such gracious and hospitable leaders along with their daughters Kate and Emily.

– Laura Schlabach, Fall ’10 (Duane on SST)

Duane is such a patient and kind mentor. I really appreciated his excitement for journalism, his support as an editor and his smart critiques. I valued his red pen because it helped me learn to be a better writer. He was one of my favorite professors, and I always enjoy seeing him around Goshen! 

– Sara Alvarez Waugh, Fall ’11

I have fond memories of my weekly editorial meetings with Duane in the Leaf Raker. He always came ready with a copy of the latest issue and a wealth of feedback. Duane had high standards, so it felt wonderful when he particularly liked an article. When he saw room for improvement, his feedback was gentle but firm. I grew immensely as a writer and editor that year, and so much of that growth was due to Duane. Thank you, Duane, for supporting me throughout my time as Record editor — your encouraging words and editorial wisdom were invaluable to me!

– Ariel Ropp, Spring ’13

I’ve been honored to have a front row seat to the wisdom and deep care of the journalist and teacher who is my dad. Since coming to Goshen in the early 2000s, he’s supported hundreds of students in the pursuit of journalism, a calling in which his ethics, care, attention to detail, and humble brilliance reverberate. He’s been a champion for local news and small outlets in a time when funding and support is shrinking. When I worked on the Record as a student myself, spending late nights trying to put the paper to bed with friends, distributing fresh bundles while the ink was still wet, or meeting at the Fraker to go over ideas for the next week’s stories, I still remember how excited my dad would get about the prospect of a new week of reporting. His touch was light, but consistent, week after week, year after year, he gave students equal measures of support and freedom, shot through with curiosity and belief in the importance of what journalism could do for campus, for a college community. More broadly, I think he knew what impact it would have on spaces beyond Goshen when we all stepped into the world, having learned from him how to practice integrity and love for stories well told, wherever we go. Endless thanks, Dad. 

– Kate Stoltzfus, Fall ’13

There is no Record without Duane. He deeply trusts the staff and finds opportunities for them to bring their perspectives, ambitions and voices to The Record. I found Duane’s probing questions matched with his welcoming silences allowed staff members to own the mistakes and the successes so that the paper could grow instead of getting caught in the cyclical nature of reporting. Duane is always looking forward, thinking long-term. Trusting the staff to lead has given longevity to The Record, so though he will be missed, a legacy will not disappear with this legend.

– Elizabeth Franks-North, Fall ’14 (Duane on SST)

Duane was the main reason for my decision to go to Goshen and he helped me from the beginning. As a foreigner, it wasn’t very easy to do journalism in my third language but Duane taught me a lot about the values that I have as an adult. He brings the best out of every student, and talking about the Record with him was by far my favorite part of my college career. Eight years after graduation, I still feel like it was yesterday when I met him at the Leaf Raker to talk about the next week’s news. 

– Luis Perez Lerchundi, Spring ’16 (co)

Ultimately, I think what has always stuck with me the most was simply how he treated everyone who contributed to the paper in some manner. He was always extremely encouraging and striving for us to be our best. And any constructive criticism was simply that, constructive. 

In short, The Record and the students of Goshen College could not have asked for a more qualified, knowledgeable and encouraging individual to oversee the paper. The Record’s success over his time as adviser is a testament to that.

– Seth Wesman, Spring ’16 (co)

I would not have been the Record editor without Duane. Literally. I wasn’t planning on applying — it seemed like too much responsibility. But Duane asked if I was applying, and he told me I should. He asked again a few weeks later, and I knew I had to. That’s what makes Duane the best adviser: he recognizes your talents and has a gentle but firm way of making sure you lean into them. Editing the Record pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I learned more than I could have hoped. And that’s because of Duane. 

– Jordan Waidelich, Fall ’16

Duane was a mix of champion and challenger for me during college: always supportive but also always finding ways to push me to improve. That combination of qualities in a mentor was a gift and allowed me to grow both as a writer and as a person. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn from and work with Duane while at GC. 

– Katie (Hurst) Grimes, Fall ’17

A critique from Duane Stoltzfus always held as much value and care as a compliment. Never have I met a professor who holds such high standards for his students, delivered to them in the most gracious way. As we, editors and members of The Record, worked to navigate the complicated realities of reporting on a small, Mennonite campus, Duane was both a professor and an eager student, learning alongside us. A master of words, a storyteller. For the record, your presence will be missed.

– Mackenzie Miller, Fall ’20

Duane’s mentorship taught me so much about journalism, writing, professionalism and leadership. Being the editor of The Record is no easy feat, but I felt prepared and supported. I am especially grateful for the trip he took the Record leadership on in December 2021. We traveled to D.C. and New York City and met with journalists from the Washington Post, the New York Times, Sojourners, NPR and more. Duane is committed to uplifting the work of his students, and he held The Record to an unwaveringly high standard, which has shaped so many students over the years. 

– Greta Klassen, Fall ’21

When I was named a finalist for a college journalism contest in the fall of my junior year, I invited Duane to be my guest for the awards dinner and he agreed to be there, without hesitation. He helped me navigate the networking-heavy dinner and celebrated with me when I won the competition. And most importantly, he was there as my guest and as moral support when I lost the same contest a year later. Duane has always been his students’ biggest advocate and the reason so many people get involved with The Record — he is an absolute treasure!

– Augusta Nafziger, Fall ’22

If Duane had not approached Jakyra and me about applying, I certainly would not have considered it on my own. It meant something to feel believed in. Duane is meticulous yet kind in his care for The Record. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from him. 

– Mariela Esparza, Spring ’23 (co)

Duane is an amazing person who is so cool and smart — ASK ANYONE! I’m grateful and honored to know him. I also wouldn’t have applied for executive editor with The Record if he hadn’t connected with me on a personal level. Duane always goes above and beyond in supporting and pushing his students, helping us realize our potential, especially when I doubt myself. It’s sad that he can no longer serve as an adviser and that future students will miss his guidance. I know, however, that his impact will be lasting.

– Jakyra Green, Spring ’23 (co)

Duane has the rare combination of being incredibly knowledgeable and a gifted teacher. He captivates a classroom, relentlessly cheers on The Record, and provides specific feedback that is always attuned to the writer and to the needs of the prose. It has been an honor and a joy to learn from him.

– Caleb Shenk, Fall ’23

So much has already been said, but I have to add: Duane has been an absolute rock throughout the last few years. Supportive but not overbearing, uplifting but not exaggerating — it feels like I learn something from every conversation with him. But nothing has been as special to me as our drives to the ICPA contest, where we talked for hours about journalism, life and GC (and maybe some mild gossip). Duane has not only turned me into a competent writer, but his outlook on life has given me hope and belief in myself. I like to think I’m good with words, but Duane’s mentorship, unwavering support and genuine friendship has meant more to me than I can express here. Thank you for everything.

– Daniel James, Spring ’24 (current)