Date published: August 23, 2010
GOSHEN, IND.- Goshen College president emeritus J. Lawrence Burkholder, an influential figure in the Mennonite church, passed away on June 24 Burkholder, 92, played many significant roles throughout the 20th century as a pastor, professor, pilot, philosopher, civil rights activist, war-time relief worker and college president. Burkholder graduated from Goshen College in 1939, and after a decade of service overseas became a professor in Goshen College's Bible, Religion and Philosophy Department. In 1961, Burkholder was called to serve as a professor at Harvard Divinity School, where he was a part of the faculty until 1971. Then, in 1971 Burkholder left the Ivy League, returning to Goshen College to serve as its 11th president with the conviction that "Mennonites had something to contribute to the world, and I wanted to be part of it." Burkholder, who served as president until 1984, began his presidency with a simple religious service and the planting of 138 trees around campus. "I wanted to bring beauty to a campus that seemed somewhat barren," he said. "And I hoped to soften and humanize the image of the place in the process."
-Goshen College Release