A new president for Conrad Grebel University College means changes for St. Jacobs’ Mercedes Corp., as company president Marcus Shantz makes the transition to his new role.

The college last week announced the selection of Shantz as its eighth president effective Oct. 1.

“I went to school at Conrad Grebel. I’ve been on the board there. It was a pleasure to be asked to serve there – it’s very special for me,” said Shantz of the new position.

“It’s going to be a whole new world. Or at least a world I haven’t been part of for a while.”

Shantz said his name arose when the college was discussing candidates, the idea coming as something of a surprise to him.

“I was nominated for the role. That’s how it was formally: my name came up at the selection committee, and I agreed to let my name stand. I’m happy how it came out.”

The college has had an interim president (Jim Pankratz) since last October following the five-year tenure of Susan Schultz Huxman.

Conrad Grebel, affiliated with the University of Waterloo, was founded more than five decades ago by a group of Mennonite church and business leaders. It still fosters that Mennonite spirit of community, said Shantz.

In selecting a new president, the college’s board of governors cited Shantz’s civic leadership abilities, including his time as board chair of The Centre In The Square and Silver Lake Mennonite Camp, and his board experience with Ten Thousand Villages and Conrad Grebel itself.  He has also held leadership roles at Rockway Mennonite Church and Mennonite World Conference.

“Marcus is a strong supporter of the college’s unique identity and mission,” said Fred Redekop, board of governors chair, in a statement. “His business and administrative experience and his background in law have equipped him to lead strategically, fiscally, and creatively into the next decade. Marcus has a remarkable capacity for insightful inquiry and for developing collaborative partnerships. He will provide strong leadership as the next president of Conrad Grebel University College.”

The new job will see him helping to set the overall course for the college.

“You’re responsible for what happens at the college – the day-to-day stuff and the overall governance and direction,” said Shantz.

With that in mind, the focus is to provide support for the students, to foster the community that is Conrad Grebel, he said, noting students face much different circumstances than was the case even in the early 1990s when he was a student there.
“Students today have challenges that we don’t even understand. When I was a student, we talked about how the Baby Boomers had it so easy, but, really, my generation had it easy compared to what students go through today.”

With his new job starting in October, Shantz is currently busy with the transition at Mercedes Corp., the St. Jacobs-based property management company.

“There’s a lot of work to be done. But no one is irreplaceable.”

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