Jake B. Schrum Announced as 2019 Commencement Speaker

Posted by Jeffrey Cowart
The 21st president of Emory & Henry College, Jake B. Schrum, has been named as the 2019 Commencement Speaker. The ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 11 at 10 a.m. on the main campus in Emory, Va.

The 21st president of Emory & Henry College, Jake B. Schrum, has been named as the 2019 Commencement Speaker. He has served the College for six years and plans to retire at the end of June. The ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 11 at 10 a.m. on the main campus in Emory, Va.

Schrum has been a college and university administrator for more than four decades and is a nationally recognized leader in higher education and an outspoken proponent of liberal arts education. Since August 2013, he has served as president of Emory & Henry College, Southwest Virginia’s oldest higher education institution. He previously served as president of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas for 13 years and as president of Texas Wesleyan University in Ft. Worth for nine years.

President Schrum received his B.A. from Southwestern. He earned his M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. He completed the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Southwestern. He has served as national board chair for The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and for the Educational and Institutional Insurance Administrators, as well as chair for the Associated Colleges of the South, Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, and Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia.  He has served on the boards of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, the Council for Independent Colleges, the Association of Governing Boards’ Council of Presidents, and Agnes Scott College.

During Schrum’s tenure at Emory & Henry, he has increased enrollment with the launch of the School of Health Sciences in Marion, Va.; completed the building of the McGlothlin Center for the Arts; opened the Ampersand Center and integrated learning was added to the core curriculum to promote project-based learning; acquired the Intermont Equestrian Center at E&H; launched the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in the history of the College at $80 million; built the new Village housing and community center; and a refinance of our long-term debt with USDA at historically low interest rates was completed.  

President Schrum is married to Jane Woodman Schrum. They have two daughters. Kate, a fundraiser in Atlanta, and Libby, a furniture designer and builder in Maine. He and Mrs. Schrum plan to retire in Atlanta. He has been named as a Senior Fellow to aid with the transitional planning and continue campaign efforts as well as those started with Ampersand Center and Institute at Emory & Henry. He and his wife Jane were most gracious ambassadors of the College and introduced Emory & Henry to a new and national audience.

More than 200 seniors will graduate this spring including Kaelee Belletto of Lake Orion, Michigan. She will receive a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in sociology.  She has been accepted to the Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt University starting this fall. “Emory & Henry provided a unique learning environment that focused on critical thinking and ethical reasoning in a pragmatic way,” said Belleto. “My education has included an array of studies through liberal arts in a way that shows the interconnectedness of all disciplines. Ultimately, my schooling at Emory & Henry created a space for me to ask questions and get the skills to find a way to answer them. I am very grateful to my professors who have invested in me and encouraged me.”

John Fentener van Vlissingen, founder and chairman of the board of BCD Group, will be presented with an honorary degree of Doctor of Business at the commencement ceremony. Born in the Netherlands, van Vlissingen began a career in investment banking before joining the Dutch merchant bank Pierson, Heldring & Pierson. He later moved to New York with the international banking and investments company Brown Brothers Harriman. He founded BCD Holdings in 1975 with $10,000 in capital and two employees and began implementing his vision of purchasing land in the Atlanta suburbs and developing it into shopping centers, hotels and office parks. As the third largest travel management company in the world, BCD Group employs over 14,500 people, fills 360 airplanes full of travelers daily, and operates in 109 countries with total annual sales of over $27 billion. He was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in World Business Travel in 2018 by Business Travel News, a leading industry publication. In 2008, he founded the Van Vlissingen Art Foundation, a Netherlands-based charitable organization that promotes the development of Dutch artists and the appreciation of arts.

On Friday, May 10 at 4 p.m., Rev. Susannah Davis will present at the baccalaureate ceremony in Memorial Chapel on main campus. She grew up in Warrenton, Ga., instilled with a love of church, family and community. After graduating from Emory & Henry in 1992 she moved to Atlanta, Ga., to attend Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

Upon graduation from Candler, she was ordained in the United Methodist Church and served churches and agencies in the North Georgia Conference for the following eleven years before receiving a call to start a new church with the United Church of Christ in 2006. Davis continues to lead Kirkwood UCC in worship, service and creative ways to love the community. She promotes meaningful worship that moves people toward a deeper relationship with God and others. Susannah serves as a Mental Health First Aid trainer and a teacher in the contextual education program at Candler School of Theology. Davis also serves on the Candler Alumni Board, the Emory & Henry Alumni Board and the Church Building and Loan Fund Board of the United Church of Christ.

  • Jake B. Schrum
    Jake B. Schrum
Emory & Henry provided a unique learning environment that focused on critical thinking and ethical reasoning in a pragmatic way.
-Kaelee Belletto

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