Story by Jim Bishop
It’s been “five wonderful years,” but he wants to retire from Eastern Mennonite University in order to “devote more time to family, other organizations and several entrepreneurial interests.”
Allon H. Lefever, 61, who has directed the master of business administration program at EMU since 2003, plans to leave that role on Jan. 10, 2008, the start of the spring semester, and from teaching in the program on May 15, 2008.
“I treasure my experience at EMU, the many friends I have found within the faculty, student body and the larger Harrisonburg community,” Lefever said.
“I am pleased with the growth within the MBA program, the quality of the faculty team, the placement of our graduates and the overall improved awareness and reputation of the program,” he said.
Lefever and his wife, Doris Elaine Lefever, plan to remain in Harrisonburg, where they operate a bed-and-breakfast on Eversole Road, and will retain their EMU’s business and professional club membership. Lefever will continue serving on a number of local boards and organizations, including the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative, Small Business Development Corporation, Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, Gift and Thrift, Summit Bank, and Dynamic Aviation and Immerge Technologies Inc, a local software and web start-up company.
He will also continue to serve on a number of non-local company boards, such as Goodville Mutual Casualty Company and Heavener Supply Inc., in Franconia, Pa. He intends to continue his involvement with domestic and overseas projects with Mennonite Economics Development Associates and continuing as vice president of the MEDA board of directors. He will also remain connected with Mennonite educational programs through continuing service on the Mennonite Education Agency investment committee, as a board member of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind., and as a faculty member of the Anabaptist Leadership Institute, a leadership development organization.
“In response to the entrepreneurial itch,” as he states, Lefever will increase his own consulting service and will be launching three new businesses – one related to social entrepreneurship activities, advising new start-ups, including a socially responsible venture capital arm, a hospitality company and an interim CEO company.
Lefever has extensive senior management experience. He began his business career at Victor F. Weaver Inc., a Pennsylvania poultry processor, eventually serving as group vice president of operations and director of the company when the family firm was sold to Holly Farms in 1986. He next served as senior vice president of affiliated companies for High Industries, the largest bridge builder in the U.S. There he was responsible for strategic planning, served on the executive committee and developed 10 companies over a period of 11 years. He was instrumental in taking one of those companies public and served on the board during its rise to Fortune 500 status.
He, his son and a friend formed an Internet company in 1994, which eventually became OneMain.com., taking the company public through an IPO in 1999. When it was sold to Earthlink in September 2000, Lefever became vice president of mergers and acquisitions for Earthlink. In 2001, Lefever took a break from the business world and joined the faculty of Goshen College in Indiana as executive director of the Goshen Family Business Program, advising family firms on strategic planning, attracting new members to the program and teaching three business courses. He left that role to head EMU’s MBA program, which has 37 students this fall and where he teaches entrepreneurship.
“The MBA program has benefited from Allon’s entrepreneurial and networking skills,” said EMU provost Beryl H. Brubaker. “I am sorry to see him leave the program but wish him the best at what he does so well – create new enterprises that express our values.”
“These last seven years in the academic arena have been very rewarding,” Lefever stated. “I am pleased and excited about the ethical and technological aptitude of this next generation of students that are entering the marketplace. They have tremendous potential to help make this world a better place.”
Jim Bishop is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press.