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EMU counseling program co-founder David Glanzer receives career service award from Virginia Counselors Association

david glanzerEastern Mennonite University professor David Glanzer enjoys building things. He has built a kayak, a small sailboat, even a house.

“You just start and learn it as you go,” Glanzer says. “I have dabbled in a lot of things, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert in any of them.”

Fortunately for EMU, Glanzer brought quite a bit of expertise as he built something else: a fully accredited and well-respected MA in Counseling program. Glanzer and EMU professor emerita Helen Benoit Anderson co-founded the innovative program more than two decades ago. It has added new dimensions over the years, such as a unique psychotherapy program and the Institute for Experiential Therapies.

Glanzer’s peers have been among those taking notice. In November, Glanzer received the prestigious William H. Van Hoose Career Service Award from the Virginia Counselors Association (VCA). The award was established in 1964 “to give recognition to those members whose contributions to the professional aims of the organization have been substantial.”

The award comes at the right time: Glanzer recently announced his retirement at the end of this academic year.

Annmarie Early, one of Glanzer’s colleagues at EMU, wrote one of the letters nominating Glanzer for the honor.

“Dr. Glanzer created a structure and vision that offers a unique perspective in providing mental health services to our community,” Early wrote. “Coming forth from the heritage of service in an Anabaptist context—one that values community service and outreach—he heeded his inner call to develop this now thriving program. His form of leadership for our profession is quiet, but powerful, as his faithful steps have made a way forward.”

A 1971 graduate of EMU, Glanzer did his doctoral program in psychology at the University of Utah, focusing on psycholinguistics on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, before returning to Eastern Mennonite in 1977 to teach in the psychology department. He and Benoit Anderson began talking in the 1980s about the possibility of a graduate program in counseling, and in 1993 it became a reality.

More than 225 students have graduated from the program since then, about a quarter of them beginning as EMU undergraduates.

“I feel most pleased that we have been able to graduate so many highly qualified counselors who come out of here with a mission to really serve people in the field,” says Glanzer, who has both taught in the program and twice served as director. “The quality of the program, the tight cohort that develops between students, the relationships between students and faculty—it’s just been a wonderful place to do counselor education.”

Many of the graduates, who represent a wide diversity of backgrounds, have gone on to receive their doctorates and become researchers and faculty members in other schools. The VCA award, Glanzer says, represents the breadth of that network.

“You don’t just win an award like this by yourself,” he says. “Everyone has to pull together and work together. It’s a personal honor, but it’s also an honor to the program as a whole. For the honor to be given at a state convention just helps put us on the map a little bit more, so that feels really good.”

Story by Walt Wiltschek