Dear Colleagues:

In the past few weeks, I’ve had opportunity to spend time with students, colleagues, alumni and friends at several campus celebrations including the Legacy Dinner (for 420 donors and student scholarship recipients) and the International Gala (for 570 students, employees and Messiah friends). These events were so inspiring as students and alumni testified to God’s provision through Messiah University. In Grantham, our students from around the world and across our nation experience a hospitable home on campus that enables them to live, love and learn in a Christ-centered atmosphere. And in the weeks ahead we will celebrate the Commencement of both Messiah’s undergraduate and graduate Class of 2024! Thank you for all the many ways you contribute to our students’ educational experience.

Now I’d like to share with you an update from the April board of trustees meeting, enrollment, giving and other related campus news.

Highlights from the April board meeting

On April 25-26, Messiah’s board of trustees held their annual spring meeting on campus. The board’s opening session featured the President’s Cabinet response to the trustee’s “blue sky thinking” strategy exercise from the January board meeting, related to Messiah’s challenges and opportunities in the higher education landscape; a review of the University’s annual plan for FY25; and an excellent presentation/discussion on the spiritual lives of Generation Z led by Emily Bingham, teaching pastor and director of campus ministries. Together we engaged in careful listening and learning as we addressed these salient issues.

The final board session concluded with reports and action items from the board’s various committees, which are summarized below.

From the Committee on Education: The board reviewed and approved term tenure and faculty promotions of COE members as presented based on the recommendation of the Term-Tenure and Promotion Committee, the interim provost and the president. The board also approved the employment of nine new faculty members as presented, effective Aug. 1, 2024. 

From the Committee on Finance:

  • The board approved the FY25 Financial Plan as presented this spring to campus governance groups and to the full board, permitting the Executive Committee of the Board, or the Committee on Finance, to take final action on the financial plan in October 2024 when enrollment information will be more complete, if necessary.
  • The board adopted a resolution that the vice president for finance and planning, with the written consent of the president of the University or the chairman of the board of trustees, be authorized to borrow under one line of credit up to a total of $10 million for working capital purposes during the period July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2025. (This is a standard business practice).

From the Committee on Governance:

  • Recommendation of term appointments: The board approved the appointment of the following individuals as a trustee in the class of 2028, effective July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2028:

First term:                    Second term:                Third term:

Doneen Dourte              Larry Bashore               Wendy Cole

Joachim Huerter          Anthony Schiano           Ed Nevin            

Steven Myers                                                           Kimberly Thornbury

  • Recommendation of officers: The board approved the appointment of the following slate of officers of the board of trustees for a one-year term to be effective July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2025.
    • Vice Chair: David Millary
    •  Secretary: Linda Eremita
    • Treasurer:  Anthony Schiano
  • Recommendation of Board Chair: The board approved the appointment of Craig Sider, for a three-year term to be effective July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2027. 

Enrollment snapshot

FAFSA simplification: Perhaps no other higher education story has dominated this year’s news headlines as much as the congressional FAFSA Simplification Act. Intended to ease the burden for families filing for federal student aid and qualify more students for Pell Grant eligibility, the implementation has been more than bumpy. Countless delays and errors in the federal government’s methodology have hampered the ability of higher education institutions to offer financial aid awards based on accurate information. While Messiah typically sends out financial aid offers in early January, we have been delayed by several months. Thanks to the good work of Messiah’s financial aid team and colleagues in ITS, we were finally able to distribute our first set of comprehensive financial aid packages on April 25 and will be sending additional sets as data is received and reconciled from the federal system.

Undergraduate admissions: Due to the complications with the new FAFSA rollout, Messiah, along with many other institutions, moved our recommended decision timeline to June 1. We are still encouraging students to deposit as soon as possible to secure prime housing and parking, but we will extend our deposit refunds to June 1 to give students time to make their college selections. Deposits are trailing 21 percent (435 vs. 552 last year) as we begin a very late “financial aid season.” We are pleased to see that our application and admit pool is steadily maintaining a three to four percent lead over last year. While the gap in deposits is higher among underrepresented students (-38%), acceptances are up by 4 percent. Transfer student deposits are running slightly ahead of last year’s numbers (41 vs. 37).

Dual enrollment: Dual enrollment continues to thrive at Messiah! We had 252 students enrolled in the fall of 2023 and 218 in the spring, 2024. This is compared to 140 in the fall and 133 in the spring during the prior academic year. Registration for summer 2024 is now underway. While many students take multiple courses each semester, it is our goal to reach at least 275 unique students through dual enrollment during FY24. The current fall, spring and summer trends point toward achieving this goal.

One of the primary benefits from Messiah’s dual enrollment initiative is the fact that dual enrollees matriculate as full-time undergraduates at a significant rate; this past fall, over 50 students (just under 10% of our incoming first-year class) had participated in dual enrollment at Messiah! We anticipate continued growth in this area (currently 57 seniors who participated in dual enrollment have paid a deposit for fall 2024), in part through the establishment of our Pathway Partners Program, which now includes a dozen Christian high schools. Additionally, we continue to expand online course offerings for dual enrollment. Finally, we are excited to introduce programs that incorporate dual enrollment, such as the new Educators for Tomorrow program, which will launch in fall 2024.

Falcon Fridays: This summer, Undergraduate Admissions will continue to host three Falcon Friday events, scheduled for June 13, July 18 and Aug. 8. These events provide a more general overview of Messiah than an open house and offer a first look at campus. Individual summer visits will be offered most weekdays as well as some Saturdays and evenings.

Graduate enrollment: A mini snapshot was taken on April 5. The 2023-2024 fiscal year budgeted credit hour goal is 15,320. As of April 27, (when including a look at early summer registration), we have reached 15,522 registered credit hours (101% to goal)! Comparing where we are this year to where we were last year on March 31, 2023:

  • 311 new students (89% to goal) this year compared to 305 (90% to goal) last year
  • 907 unduplicated students (99% to goal) this year compared to 914 (100% to goal) last year
  • 15,522 credit hours (101% to goal) this year compared to 15,352 (104% to goal) last year

Giving update

FY24 giving:  I am pleased to share that our giving numbers reflect budgeted projections thanks to the alumni, parents and friends who generously give to support Messiah University’s mission.

As of May 1:

  • Total giving:$5,919,926 (99% of June 30 goal)
  • Messiah Fund/operating:$858,266 (66% of June 30 goal)
  • Total giving plus new pledges:$6,726,006 (56% of June 30 goal)

Giving Day: Messiah University raised $191,000 on this year’s Giving Day (109% of goal); thank you to everyone who donated! The Development Office’s strategy of adding digital platforms as giving options are making it easier for younger donors to participate, i.e., Apple pay and Venmo.

Scholarship endowment: We also continue to raise scholarship endowment dollars as part of our Endowment Matching Challenge #10. We have raised over $1 million in new endowment dollars, which is 71% of the $1.5 million challenge goal further reinforcing the commitment of Messiah’s board of trustees to grow endowment dollars specifically set aside to support student scholarships. New pledges are down from previous years because we are currently not in a major fundraising campaign now that the Campaign for Messiah University has successfully ended. However, as reviewed below, we do have meaningful and significant fundraising targets for Warmer Welcome (Phases 1 and 2), the 40th anniversary of nursing, and potential new fundraising targets for equipment and renovations to our science/nursing areas.

Warmer Welcome Campaign: Construction has begun on Sawyer Pavilion (hospitality space) and the Witmer Family Lacrosse Stadium. Over $4.9 million has been raised toward Phase 1 (92% of $5.3 million goal). Phase 2 includes a new plaza as well as baseball and softball improvements. Baseball and softball subcommittees are working to engage their respective alumni communities and we are encouraged by their level of interest.

40th year anniversary of Messiah’s nursing major: Planning is now underway to launch an upcoming nursing campaign, which includes funds for patient simulators (each can cost $100,000). A portion of funds raised will be directed to the Macha Hospital (in Zambia) for a neonatal unit upgrade in recognition of our long-standing partnership. The goal for the campaign is $500,000 with a target of $100,000 being sent to Macha.

Upgrade of the Jordan and Kline science buildings: We held an encouraging initial meeting with Vice President of Operations Kathie Shafer, Derck and Edson (architectural firm) and faculty about the potential for reallocating existing space in the sciences, including moving the nursing department out of the lower level of Kline and maximizing space for the health, nutrition and exercise science, biology, and chemistry majors. In addition to fundraising, Messiah will apply for a federal grant to assist with construction costs. More information, including cost estimations, will be forthcoming later this year.

Facility project updates

Warmer Welcome projects: In late February, we broke ground for the highly anticipated Sawyer Pavilion (Starry Field hospitality) project. Mowery Construction worked diligently to put the foundation in place. Despite the deluge of rain at the beginning of the month, the project remains on schedule with a completion date of Aug. 15, 2024. In mid-May we intend to break ground at the Witmer Family Lacrosse Stadium with project enhancements that include the addition of spectator stands and construction of a new press box.

Naugle Residence Hall:  Phase 1 of renovation work in Naugle Residence Hall is scheduled to begin on May 13 and end by Aug. 10, 2024. This phase of work is centered on student bedrooms and includes new flooring, HVAC units, windows and window treatments, paint, lighting and the addition of new furniture. Our design team, Derck & Edson, and contractor, JEM, are working with us to finalize the bids for Phase 2, which is expected to be completed during the summer of 2025. This work includes installing new building HVAC, restroom renovations and public space upgrades. This two-year project is much needed as a necessary upgrade for our first-year student housing.

Good news about Messiah

Here are some of the recent achievements and good news stories of members of the Messiah community. For more details visit, Messiah’s official Facebook page and the Bridge magazine (the source sites for many of the below news items).

  • The Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) program is excited to announce a 100% (10/10) first-time pass rate on the national Board of Certification exam for our inaugural MSAT (class of ’24) cohort! Congratulations to our MSAT students who have worked hard and represented Messiah’s program so well. Thank you to program director Matt Lewis and faculty Brenda White and Braden Lawson for the outstanding education experience they provide to our athletic training students. 

  • Messiah University is among a select group of members in the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) chosen to receive a Program Development Grant from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). Messiah will use the $58,991 grant from May 1, 2024, through April 30, 2026, to deepen vocational exploration and discernment among undergraduate students. NetVUE Program Development Grants are made possible through generous financial support to the CIC by Lilly Endowment Inc. Messiah University will use the NetVUE grant to help equip undergraduate students to discern their vocational call, using their unique gifts to serve as agents of renewal and reconciliation for the common good. The grant project will expand and deepen vocational formation as part of Messiah’s new general education curriculum, which will launch in fall 2024. Read more.
  • With the significant decline in students graduating with teaching certification majors, and the teacher attrition rate at an all-time high in Pennsylvania, Messiah University is partnering with local school districts to address the teacher shortage in its region. Messiah has launched two new initiatives designed to increase the number of teachers in Pennsylvania. The first program, Educators for Tomorrow, launching in fall 2024, encourages high school students to explore teaching as a career and to consider a teacher certification pathway in college. The second program, a Teacher Certification Initiative, now underway, is designed as a pathway to help teachers in local school districts who currently hold a temporary emergency/intern certification to earn Level I state certification, which is the certification needed to teach long term. Read more.
  • Rising senior and newly named SGA student body president for 2024-2025 Sam Ramos was nominated for outstanding civic leadership and will be recognized by Partners for Campus-Community Engagement (PCCE). PCCE applauds students who have exemplified civic leadership during their higher education experience and who have exemplified PCCE’s mission to build equitable and just relationships with communities in order to advance a democratic society for the public good. Sam and other nominees will be honored at an event at Gannon University on May 30.
  • Messiah University’s student media received multiple honors at the 2024 Keystone Student Media Awards, sponsored by the Pennsylvania News Media Association. The contest recognizes high school and college journalism that provides relevance, integrity and initiative in serving readers. Messiah student media received the following honors in their division:
    • The Swinging Bridge Magazine won Honorable Mention for “Layout and Design,” Allyson Lyndaker, designer
    • YBTV won “First Place for Best Newscast, ” YBTV Staff and Rosie Schiano
    • YBTV also took “Second Place for Best Sports Coverage” for a feature by Caleb Kuiken on “Doug Miller: The Voice of Messiah Women’s Soccer.”
    • Learn more at
  • On March 23, thanks to the generosity and vision of a trustee donor couple, Messiah hosted its first-ever high school esports tournament, with Messiah’s esports players staffing and providing hospitality at the event. We welcomed representatives of seven schools from across Pennsylvania. The tournament featured competitive matches in both Rocket League and Smash Bros, with Biglerville High School claiming victory in Rocket League and Thomas Jefferson High School emerging triumphant in Smash Bros. The tournament served as a catalyst for expanding Messiah’s network within the Pennsylvania high school esports ecosystem, opening doors for future collaborations, larger tournaments and exciting recruitment opportunities.
  • Messiah University and Lititz Christian School (LCS) recently signed a multi-year agreement, as part of the University’s Pathway Partners Program, to advance the mission of both institutions. The partnership will support quality, Christ-centered education in central Pennsylvania, and will include components such as training, development and continuing education of LCS teachers; dual enrollment discounts for LCS students enrolling at Messiah; special admissions-focused events; scholarships for LCS students who attend Messiah as a traditional residential undergraduate student; graduate degree discounts; among other benefits. Read more.
  • On April 21, WGAL News 8 featured Messiah’s participation in Vinylthon, a nationwide event in which radio stations play vinyl records on air to promote and raise money for scholarships for future broadcasting students. Watch the coverage.

Messiah Athletics highlights

Below are highlights of recent success and accomplishments of Messiah student athletes and the Division of Athletics. For more details, and to view schedules to come out to cheer on the Falcons at future athletic events, visit

  • This past Sunday night, the Athletic Department capped off the year with the third-annual MESPY Awards (Messiah Excellence in Sports Performance Yearlys)—an awards show that highlights the best of Messiah Athletics. In a night of reflection and celebration, the Falcons handed out 14 MESPY awards while also honoring the graduating senior class.
  • The women’s swimming team capped off the 2023-24 season with their 10th conference championship in the last 11 years with Evangeline Soerens being named the Swimmer of the Year. Evangeline and Abigail Soerens advanced to the National Championships in the 200 Breast. Evangeline became the first swimmer in program history to compete in an ‘A’ Final at the national championships, earning All-American honors in the process.
  • The baseball team completed their most successful regular season in program history, going 32-8 and earning the top seed in the upcoming MAC Commonwealth Tournament. The Falcons set new program records for wins (previous record was 28 in 2005 and 2008) and home runs (40 and counting) in a single season. Baseball will host the MAC Commonwealth Semifinals against fourth-seeded York on Friday and Saturday in a three-game series.
  • Josiah Gehr claimed fourth place at the DIII Wrestling National Championships at 141 lbs. Gehr finished his final season with the Falcons with an overall record of 26-4 and helped the Falcons to a 25th-place finish at the national championships.
  • Men’s and women’s tennis have both qualified for the MAC Commonwealth Tournament. The men finished as the top-seed in the conference after a perfect 6-0 record. The women earned the second seed in the conference tournament. Both teams will host the semifinals this week.
  • Women’s lacrosse rattled off seven-straight victories to claim the second seed in the upcoming MAC Commonwealth Tournament. The Falcons finished the conference slate with a 6-1 record and will host third-seeded Stevenson on Wednesday night in the MAC Commonwealth Semifinals.
  • The men’s lacrosse team turned in a perfect 7-0 record at home this season, en route to a 12-5 overall record in the regular season. The Falcons grabbed the third seed in the conference tournament and will head to second-seeded Stevenson on Wednesday for the MAC Commonwealth Semifinals.
  • The men’s and women’s track and field team will head to Widener this weekend for the MAC Championships. The Falcons were picked to finish in the top-five in both Pre-Championship Coaches’ Polls with the men predicted fourth and the women fifth.
  • The softball teams earned the second-seed in the upcoming MAC Commonwealth Tournament. The Falcons finished the regular season with a 27-13 overall record and a 12-2 mark in conference. Messiah finished the season strong and heads into the conference tournament with a 16-1 record in the month of April.

In closing

As our spring semester comes to a close, thank you for the many ways that you serve our students with dedication and excellence. In the weeks ahead, I look forward to recognizing and celebrating the achievements of our graduates and God’s faithful work in their lives during their time at Messiah.

Warm regards,

 Kim S. Phipps, president