Next year, there will be some new faces at the front of classrooms. Goshen College has hired four new faculty members in the departments of religion, sustainability, Master of Social Work (MSW), biology and nursing.

Luke Kreider, currently a lecturer of Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School, will join the faculty in a unique joint position, dividing his time between the religion, justice and society department and the sustainability department. Kreider said he is “interested in the connections between peace, justice and sustainability issues.” Kreider’s area of research ties together some of the interdisciplinary causes of climate change, and he will teach classes that look at the social, political, and religious roots of environmental problems.

Kreider is a 2008 GC graduate and has been looking for ways to come back to Goshen. He taught briefly as a visiting professor about ten years ago, and said he “has had eyes on Goshen and Merry Lea.”

“I’ve always imagined teaching at Goshen College,” Kreider said. He described being “really excited to work with Goshen College students again … and being professionally and intellectually stimulated.”

Jonathon Schramm, chair of the sustainability department, said that Kreider will be “a really good fit.” Schramm was especially excited about Kreider’s interdisciplinary focus, and “how he connects ecology, sustainability, theology [and] ethics.”

Jeanette Harder was tapped to head the new MSW program in a joint venture with Bluffton University. She is currently a professor of social work at the University of Nebraska in Omaha. She is excited to start this program and said she has wanted to create a Master of Social Work program at a Mennonite school “for the last 20 years.”

“The whole reason I got my Ph.D. was so that I could teach at a school like Goshen,” Harder said.

Her goals for the new program include wanting to “build the best MSW program in the world,” as well as integrating spirituality and GC’s core values into the program.

Jeanne Liechty, undergraduate social work program director and a member of the search committee, praised Harder’s qualifications and collaborative vision, saying, “she’s coming from a well-established MSW program and will bring a lot of experience and expertise.”

The biology department made a new hire as well: Raquel Montanez-Gonzalez will be a cell biology professor next year, replacing Jody Saylor, the department chair, who will be stepping back from teaching duties. Montanez-Gonzalez is currently a visiting teaching professor at Notre Dame and completed her Ph.D. in 2020 studying vector biology and chromosomal inversions in mosquitoes.

Montanez-Gonzalez appreciated the “teaching focus of the position,” and described how she wants to foster a classroom environment “where all students are involved.” She said she loved the guest lecture she had at GC and appreciated the way “all students were participating” as well as the “approachable nature of everyone.”

Saylor spoke highly of Montanez-Gonzalez: “I think we just all saw she’s kind of a star.” She will bring energy to the department, says Saylor, and “her student-centered focus [is] amazing — she’s going to grow into something super valuable for our campus.”

Finally, Peter Shenk Koontz was hired as a new half-time professor of nursing. He will teach psychiatric mental health while continuing to practice psychiatry at Oaklawn. 

Shenk Koontz is a 2008 GC graduate and spent a year teaching in South Korea and three years working as a peacebuilder in Afghanistan. 

Jewel Yoder, chair of the nursing department, commended Shenk Koontz’s “international experiences that are such a good fit with global health and global citizenship.” She hopes his experience will help him connect with international students. 

Shenk Koontz looks forward to helping students understand mental health issues better. “It’s something that nurses have to deal with in every setting,” he said.