Jan Bender Shetler, director of global engagement, will retire at the end of this academic year. Shetler started the role in 2018 and has worked at the college in some capacity since 1999. Jerrell Ross Richer, professor of economics, and Kendra Yoder, professor of sociology, will replace her as co-directors.Shetler came into the role after a search conference evaluated Goshen College’s Study-Service Term. “We [had] this wonderful 50-year-old program that has been so important to our alumni and to student growth, but it felt out of date,” Shetler said. “We really needed to adapt to what students and faculty needed and wanted.”
During her time as SST director, she helped refresh the program. emphasizing the one-course-at-a-time model. She is pleased that “now every student can have the same kind of learning goals, and every student will do some immersive program work,” whether they do a full semester abroad or not.
Shetler is already in the process of transitioning Ross Richer and Yoder into her role. “I am so happy about Jerrell and Kendra replacing me, because they both have such unique and complementary strengths and coming in … so I am just thrilled,” she said.
Ross Richer and Yoder are excited about taking on the role. Neither wanted to give up teaching at GC, and by sharing the position they will be able to continue as half-time professors. Before accepting the job, they looked at how they would split and share the responsibilities.
Yoder said, “We highlighted the different parts that we were most excited about. … When we looked at it, they almost came up as the different parts of the job, right? It became really feasible.”
Yoder will focus on the internal side of the position in overseeing things like SST orientation and course curriculum, which she has already been involved with over the past two years. Ross Richer will handle the external side: dealing with international partners, program budgets and fundraising.
Both will continue Shetler’s work of incorporating the results of the SST search conference into the program. “The mantra that came out of that I think was ‘SST for all.’” Ross Richer said. “And so I think if anything, my vision for where we’re going with SST is to try to figure out what that ‘for all’ piece means.”
Yoder explained that SST alternative courses “weren’t necessarily immersive. They weren’t necessarily including some kind of service component with a partner organization.” As she takes over as co-director, she’s focused on “really aligning that so … [graduates] all feel like they had a legitimate, immersive, cross-cultural experience.”
A correction was made on Dec. 1, 2023: In one instance, Jan Bender Shetler’s name was misspelled.