Monday, December 21, 2009

Stories behind the scholarships

2008-09 Contributers Honor Roll
At first glance the 2008-09 Contributor’s Honor Roll which was delivered a few weeks ago may appear to be little more than names. Lots and lots of names. Lists of names filling up most of a 40-page publication.

I’m intrigued by the idea that behind every one of these names is a story. What is their connection to Bluffton? What led them to make the decision to share their hard-earned money with this institution? I’ve proofed the honor roll in the past, but I’ve never slowed down enough to consider that there are stories behind each and every one of these names.

This year, I’m particularly drawn to the endowed scholarship spread. Bluffton students receive financial aid from more than 250 endowed scholarships. Only the endowed scholarships receiving additional funding during the past year and who made the donation is listed in the honor roll.

Out of curiosity, I looked through the entire list of endowed scholarships. I was surprised how many former faculty/staff members either funded a scholarship or had a scholarship started in their honor or memory; Elmer & Lavera Neufeld and Lee & Del Snyder (former presidents), Lee & Dorothy Lehman (economics), Fred & Mary Amstutz (church relations), Howard Krehbiel (mathematics), “Sugar” Ray & Irene Hamman (education) and many more.

While establishing an endowed scholarship requires an initial gift of $25,000, once the scholarship is set up, additional funds can be added in any amount.

It’s interesting to read in the honor roll the scholarship names and look at who supported them. Some make perfect sense, Luther and Geneva Shetler made a donation to the Luther & Geneva Shetler Scholarship. Some connections are not so obvious, for instance why did Tom and Debbie Simms chose to support the Carlin B. & Sharon K. Carpenter Scholarship?

There has to be some really cool stories hidden in this lists of names. Maybe these gifts reflect a thank you to an inspirational professor or mentor. I’d love to hear the stories! Please share!

If you would like to support an existing scholarship, you are welcome to give online and restrict your gift to the scholarship of your choice. For information about establishing a scholarship, contact

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Missing you already

Megan DeNoi clips newspaper articles
The PR office is blessed to have eight fantastic student assistants working as writers, graphic designers, Web assistant, clerical support, custodian… We love our students. They are not given ‘fluff’ assignments that ‘if it gets done, great; if not, no big deal.’ We rely heavily on our students, and they benefit by gaining experience and building their portfolio with quality pieces.

Plus having the students around helps us stay in touch with the ebb and flow of campus life; the celebration that comes with turning in a killer presentation/paper, the stress that comes with Finals Week.

We are mid-way through fall semester Finals Week and students haven’t been around so much this week. And when they are, they’ve looked a little haggard. Probably the same way we looked after pulling an all-nighter at the L&K or Flying J (depending on your generation.)

Not unexpectedly, this week’s student blogs all focus on finals; ranging from a first-year student experiencing his first collegiate finals, to a senior realizing that this journey is almost complete, to ways that staff help to provide study breaks.

Parking lots are starting to empty as students finish up and head home for a much-deserved Christmas break.

To “our” students in PR – Melinda, Sara, Megan, Ryan, Cody, Cory, Evan and Kristi: Enjoy sleeping in your ‘own’ bedroom, home cooking, hanging out with ‘old’ friends, catching up with family. Relax, rejuvenate. You’ve earned it.

But just know that we’re looking forward to welcoming you back on campus in January. We’ll have an assignment list waiting for you!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Celebrating Christmas at Bluffton

With the light dusting of snow that graced campus yesterday, it can now be said that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The library staff put up their humongous tree in the Reading Room right before Thanksgiving. There are Christmas trees in Marbeck, several offices, residence hall rooms…

Members of SAA (Student Alumni Association) and OCMEA (Ohio Collegiate Music Education Association) assembled and decorated the 12-foot Christmas tree in the lobby of Yoder Recital Hall after Thanksgiving break.

SAA advisor Julia Szabo said, “The tree is the kind that requires you to put each individual branch into a slot in the stem. The tree was purchased approximately 20 years ago by Deb Brubaker (director of Camerata Singers) who asked the student singing group to help assemble the tree each year. At some point, the building of the tree was taken over by Gene Caskey (faculty emeritus) and Mary Amstutz (wife of staff emeritus). Several years ago, the job of assembling the tree became too much for Gene and Mary, so the Christmas tree has sat in storage. This year, SAA and OCMEA students wanted to revive the tradition. The task took less than 2 hours with all those good helpers. Community members, students, and alumni participating in the upcoming Messiah concert were able to enjoy some fellowship when the tree was completed.”

The first of the Bluffton Christmas traditions has passed for 2009 – the 114th singing of Handel’s Messiah took place last Sunday evening. Additional opportunities to celebrate on campus include:
  • Advent chapel
    Student pastoral assistants Natalie Pajestka, Ben Siebert and Hannah Rybka will lead chapel at 11 a.m. Dec. 10 in Yoder Recital Hall.
  • Advent musical
    Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God,” a musical performed by a group of Bluffton students at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 in Ramseyer Auditorium. The musical is sponsored by the campus ministries department. Admission is free.
  • Christmas Choral Concerts
    The three Bluffton student choirs will perform at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13, Yoder Recital Hall. Tickets are required. Contact
  • Christmas Candle Lighting Service
    Campus pastor “Tig’ Intagliata will lead the service of Christmas hymns, scripture texts and candle lighting at 9 p.m. Dec. 14 in Marbeck Commons.
While there are many formal events planned in December, often times it’s the impromptu, student-organized events that we remember most. Like singing along at the top of our lungs with Amy Grant on Second Ropp Addition, our first attempt at a ‘formal’ Christmas party (we forgot to tell they guys – they showed up in t-shirts & jeans)…

What do you remember most about celebrating Christmas at Bluffton?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What if…

Those sure are two dangerous words. What if… leads to thoughts of regret. Would the grass be greener, would life be somehow easier if I would have…

This fall we created a video promoting the opportunities at Bluffton for high-achieving students. In Bluffton Student Scholars, students talk about why they chose to be part of the honors program or C. Henry Smith Scholars or departmental honors. The video turned out well.

It was interesting talking with the students featured in this video. They are very passionate, focused, self-assured.

Sometimes I wonder what I missed out on by not accepting the invitation to be in the C. Henry Smith Scholars. I still have the letter saved with my Bluffton memorabilia. I wonder, would I have “found myself” sooner? Would I be in a different place professionally?

Don’t get me wrong – I cherish the friendships and memories from my Bluffton days and I wouldn’t change much. But, what if…

I trust that all things happen for a reason. (Rom. 8:28) There is a reason that in high school the guy who brown-nosed the teachers and then tried to cheat off me in algebra II was chosen for National Honor Society while I wasn’t; thus creating my aversion to any type of ‘honor society.’ I know I am right where God wants me to be.

But in talking with the students about C. Henry Smith program – meeting in faculty homes, talking about current issues, exploring topics outside of your major – that could have been really interesting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Making memories

Ellery performs in Bob's Place
It’s amazing what fun things are planned by the student life crowd. Makes me almost wish I could go back and relive my college years.

A duo from Columbus, Ellery, performed in Bob’s Place last week. Bob’s was transformed into a coffeehouse, complete with lighting and rearranging the soft coffeehouse-style couches for ambiance. From the photos it looks like it was an amazing crowd – on a Thursday night to boot! photos…

President Harder and others from the President’s Cabinet still carve turkey and roast beef for the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. But a new tradition, the Midnight Finals Breakfast served by faculty and staff, provides sustenance and a study-break to those pulling all-nighters. It’s not often that you are serenaded by professors wearing Santa hats! photos from last year...

Some things are staples in the student life repertoire. They still play Bingo with college-student needs such as detergent, snacks, writing utensils, etc., given as prizes. But they also go big with Giant Monopoly and Giant Dutch Blitz. photos from Oct. 09... That looks like it could be fun.

Just like 20+ years ago, a walk through the residence halls will show students making their own entertainment. Euchre and Spades were the games of choice then. Now it is mostly video games. It’s all a chance for friends to gather, to laugh, to have fun. Oh, the stories that could be told…
Your turn! What were some of the events/activities which made great memories from your college years?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Once upon a time

Think of your favorite story – whether it is fiction or non-fiction; mystery, biographical, science fiction or romance – we all love a good story. Stories tell us where we’ve come from or help us envision what could be.

It’s no surprise that alumni tell us over and over that the first things they read when the Bluffton magazine arrives are alumnotes and the alumni feature stories. Even if we don’t personally know the people profiled, there is something really cool about reading what others are doing with what they learned at our shared alma mater.

We’re also told that stories are important to prospective students and their parents. It gives them a sense of what they could expect to gain from a Bluffton education. “I/my child could go to Bluffton and become an orthopedic surgeon/ FAA operations analysist/ or recipient of Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. These stories are so important that we’re starting to highlight them on the individual academic department Web pages.

Where do these stories come from? The best story ideas come from you!

Sometimes an interesting alumnote will be expanded into a feature, or sometimes a professor/former classmate will tell us what someone else is doing. Oftentimes we try to align the alumni features with the topic of the magazine – other times they are completely random.

We maintain a list of possible alumni feature stories to choose from, but we can always use more ideas. Tell us what you are doing, or narc on your friends and family. We cannot promise that every idea will become a feature story – but if we don’t know about it, we can’t write about it. Contact us at or online. Be sure to include your contact information.

Help us tell your story and weave your experience into the fabric of Bluffton University for the benefit of alumni and future students.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Having fun along the way

Having fun on the court
What an amazing ride for the Bluffton women’s volleyball team!

When Coach Steve Yarnell took over the reins of the Bluffton program in 2004, his goal was to contend for the HCAC championship in five years. Last year, one year ahead of schedule, his team went to the HCAC tourney where they lost to Mount St. Joseph 3-0 in the semi-finals.

Then came 2009. A perfect 8-0 conference regular season record. Hosting the HCAC post-season NCAA qualifier tournament over the weekend. Let me just say - Founders was rocking! Once again the Beavers met MSJ in the post-season tournament, this time in the finals.

The ladies looked and played NERVOUS. Could it be that a pre-game pep-talk from Coach Clarence Vaughn and his two Super Bowl rings added to their anxiety? Or did they start thinking about actually playing perennial HCAC volleyball powerhouse Mount in the finals?
Team bonding on the playground
Either way, Mount won the first two games rather decisively. Then in the middle of the third game when Bluffton’s women were down and the crowd was deflated, something weird happened with the scoreboard. Bluffton was up by either one or two, then the score on the board changed several times with the action stopped. There was conversation at the scorer’s table with coaches and officials. I heard someone who might know more about volleyball than I say there was a set from the back row. Whatever that means. The scoreboard showed us tied at 8 then tied at 6. It was really bizarre.

All I do know, is that the crowd got back into it the game at this point. And something clicked with the Beavers. They started playing relaxed and having fun on the court. And wouldn’t you know it – they took the final three games to win the tourney.

And the season’s not over yet! The winner of the HCAC tourney has an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III tournament. Bluffton will be playing Ohio Northern University, Thursday at Hope College in Holland, Mich., in the first round of the NCAA regional playoffs. Earlier this season, ONU handed us our only loss in Founders in the past 20 home games.

Bluffton competed in the NCAA regional playoffs three times 1994-97 and six times in the NAIA playoffs 1982-90. Hmmm. Bluffton is a pretty young team. Could we be on the verge of another Bluffton volleyball dynasty?

No pressure though! Ladies – you just keep having fun on the court and take us along for the ride!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween – Bluffton style

This morning I noticed a jack-o-lantern, complete with a tealight, on the front porch steps at the PR house. First thoughts - “That’s odd. Where did that came from?” As my to-do-list beckoned I didn’t think much more about it until later in the day.

In a stroll across campus, there were jack-o-lanterns everywhere: in the Riley Court courtyard, on Beeshy bridge, by Marbeck. Ah, last night was Trick-or-Treat. Somebody – or some group of somebodies – did a lot of work to decorate the campus appropriately. Thank you!

A relatively new tradition on campus is to open the residence halls to area children on the village Trick-or-Treat night, which happened to be last night. I have it on good authority that Trick-or-Treating in the halls – or at least in Hirschy – was a success.

Random notice:
We’re excited to announce that United States Congressman Jim Jordan representing the 4th District, Ohio, will be holding a Town Hall meeting Nov. 11 on Bluffton’s campus. Doors to Founders Hall will open at 6:30 p.m. with the event scheduled for 7-8:30 p.m.

This event is an opportunity for residents of the 4th district, especially those in Allen and Hancock Counties, to ask questions of Congressman Jordan. Other Town Hall events have occurred in the district this year, but none in this part of the region.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Walk slow and enjoy

Every so often Willis Sommer, vice president of fiscal affairs, will send a seemingly random email to the all faculty/staff email list drawing our attention to something he has noticed on campus. It is usually either nature-related or pointing out progress on a construction project.

Campus has been especially beautiful this fall. But with mid-terms, papers, multiple projects and such occupying our minds, it is easy to be so focused on the task at hand that we overlook the beauty around us.

I’d like to share Willis’ note (with his permission)

I suspect all of us are surprised this fall with the richness of the changing color of the trees. I am enjoying walks on campus seeing the various colors. I would especially note the following areas:

  1. The Ehrman Grove on the walk to Riley Court. Standing at the entrance to Sauder looking at the grove, the red maples have a backdrop of yellow leaves.

  2. Standing at Centennial Hall on the College Avenue side looking toward Hirschy—an array of colors.

  3. On the College Hall driveway where the sidewalk from Centennial to College Hall crosses, stop and look at the College Hall side entrance to Mosiman. You will see a red maple getting redder in front of two orange sweet gums. All three should get even better in the next few days.

  4. The trees in Klassen Court are now turning. Although not necessarily as bright, the leaves are still pretty, particularly seen as a grouping.

  5. The purple leaves on the tree near the IT Berky Annex entrance. It is best when the sun is bright.

  6. Several oaks, in front of Shoker and near the greenhouse, seem more colorful than past years.

Walk slow and enjoy.

Walk. Slow. And Enjoy. Amen!

(If it weren’t rainy and grey outside, I would go take a few photos to share. But if you are near campus, it would be worth your while to visit. Maybe catch a game or lecture/concert. You won’t be disappointed.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bluffton students are the BEST!

Tommy Thompson and Sally Orgren go to great lengths to get the perfect shot!
What a fantastic couple of weeks!

Recently, I have had the definite pleasure of getting out and about, meeting and visiting with several of Bluffton’s students.

First there was being involved in taping interviews for new fall sports videos last Thursday; then helping with a 2-day photo shoot for admissions materials earlier this week; and now I’m scheduling interviews for a ‘student scholars’ video for next week. All of which confirms for me – Bluffton has amazing students!

I’m always impressed how well our students do in the interviews for the various Web videos we’ve done in the past year. There are the lights, a microphone hidden on their shoulder, camera, and then they are told “ignore all this. We’re just having a conversation.” Riiiight! Yet they pull it off beautifully.

One of the videos last week was to promote the volleyball team. The ladies decided amongst themselves to dress professionally. What a great visual message to present. Have I mentioned how much I love our students?

Then there was the photo shoot. Select students are lined up to be photographed, but it’s not unusual for us to run ahead of schedule. Rather than wait around for the next shot, photographer Tommy Thompson will ask us to ‘find more students.’

So art director Sally Orgren from Corcoran Communications and I will run to the library, the tech center, accost students walking on the path... We’re looking for students dressed “appropriately,” i.e. colorful shirts, non-grungy, with study materials. What’s cool is that we typically don’t have to look too far. And students are typically willing to help us out.

Yes, I really do love our students!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Congratulations to all

Friday night is the annual Bluffton University Alumni Awards banquet during Homecoming weekend. I’m so looking forward to attending this banquet.

It is fun when someone you know is being honored. Even if it’s someone you only know in passing; a former classmate, former co-worker, you know what I mean.

2007 Alumni Award recipientsI attended the banquet in 2007 when Todd Miller ’86 received the Professional Achievement Award. Todd and I were classmates in Wes Richards’ communication courses. It was exciting to hear an acceptance speech for an achievement award from someone that graduated the same year you did.

This year I’ll be attending the banquet to support Tobias Buckell ’00 as he is presented the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. I got to know Tobias when he worked in the Bluffton University tech center. Nice guy, always ready to help with the weird tech issue of the day. (He helped me get an audio clip from the Camerata Singers CD into a format to post on the Bluffton site. Well, more than help, he did it. I’m sitting there, trying to learn so to do it on my own the next time. Yea, he did it so quickly, so effortlessly, I haven’t a clue what he did.)

Crystal Rain by Tobias BuckellNow he is the author of four science-fiction novels, including one that made The New York Times best-sellers list. I give him kudos for following his passion. To jump into an author’s world ready to sink or swim, and not only survive but thrive - that is impressive. (In poking around his Web site, I just learned that his debut novel Crystal Rain has been released in Czech!)

Sorry, Toby, being more of a romantic/mystery person, I cannot say that I’ve read any of your works. But that doesn’t mean I’m any less impressed by your accomplishments. Congratulations.

Congratulations as well to the other award recipients, Herman Neff ’49, Lifetime Service Award; Verne Schrich ’58, Professional Achievement Award; and Mary Ann Sullivan, Faculty/Staff Service Award.

Have more stories about the 2009 Alumni Award recipients? Share them here!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Poking a sleeping dog?

To me, the idea of taking a year to explore hot-button contemporary issues is a kind of like seeing how often one can poke at a sleeping dog before it wakes up and bites you. But never one to back down from a challenge, for the past three years Bluffton’s faculty has chosen to explore a “significant contemporary issue in cross-disciplinary ways” through general education courses and student-life programming.

Student-initiated recycling programIt’s an interesting concept. Select Forum speakers, academic courses and student activities all focus on exploring this one theme throughout the year. First-year students are assigned summer reading focused on the topic, and then the author of that book is the speaker at Opening Convocation. A faculty member is selected the “civic engagement scholar” and serves to champion the theme. The year is wrapped up with Civic Engagement Day with additional speakers, student and faculty presentations and other events and activities.

a scene from 'Whatever Kindles'The first two themes were: Environmental Stewardship: Living in the Natural World in 2007-08 and Living with Uncertainty in a Complex World) in 2008-09.

Some examples of student initiatives from these studies included a campus-wide recycling program and the introduction of Trayless Tuesdays (where there are no trays in Marbeck to save water, dish soap and food) in 2007-08; and the performance of “Whatever Kindles,” a fictional docudrama exploring the everyday experiences and struggles of members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, and men from across campus walking one mile in women’s high-heeled shoes to raise awareness of rape, sexual assault and gender violence in Walk A Mile In Her Shoes® in 2008-09.

This year the chosen civic engagement theme is “Beyond Borders: The Role of Immigration in a Global Community.” Sonia Nazario, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author of the required summer reading Enrique’s Journey, was the Opening Convocation speaker.

In the President’s Forum address, President Harder recalled Ms. Nazario’s challenge for us to deal with the “shades of grey” surrounding the immigration question. He said, “One of those ‘shades of grey’ issues for most of us is the reality that our own ancestors were immigrants to the United States, often coming here out of their own sense of desperation. They—and we as their descendants—benefitted tremendously from the opportunity they found in America.”

Hmmm. It’s going to be an interesting year to see where the students go with this one.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let's celebrate!

photo by D Sharon Pruitt
It’s official. Bluffton University has received re-accreditation through The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools! And we’ve received the maximum 10-years of continuing institutional accreditation. Meaning the next scheduled comprehensive NCA evaluation isn’t until 2018-19!

Why the celebration? This is such a good thing on so many levels. Primarily it means that Bluffton credits and degrees will continue to be accepted and respected by other universities, employers and other organizations. Bluffton has been continuously accredited since 1956 (or so – don’t quote me on the year.)

Peer reviewers found that Bluffton “[is] fulfilling our stated mission with integrity…looking ahead and preparing for the future…shows sound evidence of student learning and effective teaching…creates an environment that fosters and supports inquiry, creativity, practice and social responsibility… and engages and serves its internal and external constituencies and community neighbors in ways that both values.”

The reaccreditation process began in spring 2006 with preparations for a self-study. During the self-study five committees worked to pull together evidence of the many ways that Bluffton fulfills its mission based on five criteria given by the HLC/NCA. This is when institutional memory is huge. To be able compile information about a conference/program/event that happened nine years ago that perfectly supports a criterion is - to borrow a phrase – priceless.

Each committee drafted a chapter of the resulting 268-page self-study document. Then the fun really began. Editing. Proofing. Locating and compiling supporting documents. Building an on-line “resource room.” And I was only on the fringes of all this fun-ness. And we won’t have to do this again to this extent for another 10 years! Woohoo!

To be honest, it is an important process to undergo. Both to take the time to look up from the immediate task at hand and really see what amazing things have been accomplished around us, but to also identify what opportunities we may be missing. Bluffton is a stronger university for having gone through this process – and I don’t say that just because they pay me.

(President Jim Harder announced the official reaccreditation during the annual President’s Forum on Sept. 15.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Win-Win Proposition

Another great thing about the beginning of the school year? The student workers are back!

Through the Learn and Earn program, a campus job is offered to any student that wants one. I never realized how unique this is to Bluffton University until my son went to college (at another school – long story). I’m on his case to get a campus job and he’s saying “But I’m not a work-study student. A what?

But I hadn’t thought of it from a larger school perspective. They wouldn’t have enough jobs to offer to all interested students. Another plus for the smaller school!

We so rely on our student workers at Bluffton. Our campus jobs are not gimmes. Our students are doing real work that is important to our success and that gives them great work experience.

For example: last weekend a “Game Day @ Bluffton” event was held to celebrate the home opening football game. Individualized invitations were created by a summer intern (a senior art major/graphic design minor) to send to prospective student-athletes for women's basketball, men's basketball, baseball, softball and football. What an amazing learning experience for her to not only create the different postcards, but see the project through the printing process. And then to see the results when 70 prospective students arrived on campus for the day.

Student writers research and compose news releases about future events; a web assistant helps ensure Web content is up-to-date; a photographer/intern takes photos, writes captions and helps with other general PR duties; a student secretary processes mailings; and that’s just in the public relations office. There are also students working as research assistants, admissions ambassadors, general office assistants, clerks, as well as janitors and Buildings & Grounds workers.

So why am I so excited that the student workers are back? There is so much to do that one could easily become buried beneath a pile of minutia. To have competent student workers, who are willing and able to take some of the load, and receive life lessons and build their resumes and portfolios at the same time – what a Win-Win Proposition!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thank you, Fred

Word came this morning that Fred Amstutz has passed away after a short illness. Fred served Bluffton University for many years in numerous capacities—directing Marbeck Center, admissions, alumni affairs and church relations. He and his wife, Mary, became surrogate parents for many Bluffton students as they led BASIC (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) groups in their home.

After he retired from Bluffton, he and Mary continued to be very involved in campus life. It was not unusual to see them at ball games, music and theatre events, Homecoming and May Day.

I had the privilege of having an office next to his when he worked in church relations. Somehow or other, he was able to hang a wind chime outside of his second story office window in Riley Court. To me, Fred was a lot like that wind chime; gently and continually sharing good vibes to everyone around.

Arrangements are pending at Chiles-Laman Funeral Home.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The more things change...

Line Dancing and Ice Cream Social orientation tradition The first year students are moving in on campus today. It feels so good to watch the campus “come alive” again. Yes, there are people on campus during the summer, and the fall sports athletes and student leaders have been trickling in for the past 2-3 weeks. But it’s just different when all the students are back.

Walking across campus this morning, I couldn’t help think how much things have changed during move-in day – and how much is the same. There is the same nervousness and excitement in the students, the same nervousness, pride and near panic in the parents. Student life continues to organize a full week’s worth of orientation activities to create community, to introduce the new students to the campus, to the faculty and to each other. That’s not changed; just evolved.

Dr. Elmer NeufeldThen: Who could forget President Elmer Neufeld in a toga bringing in the torch for the “Freshman Olympics?” (sorry- no photo of the toga - but here's one of Elmer at another student-life affair!)

Dr. Eric FulcomerNow: Faculty and staff show a different side of themselves at the Faculty Follies skit and “talent” show; including Vice President of Enrollment and Student Life Eric Fulcomer’s impersonation of The King.

Then: The majority of what I needed was packed in the back of a Pinto. Quit laughing - put the back seat down and there was a lot room in there. I loved that Pinto.

Now: I saw an UHaul Van driving onto campus.

Then: It was up to me and my family to carry belongings to the top floor of Ropp Addition.

Now: Faculty, staff, the fall student-athletes and members of local churches offer assistance in carrying things into the residence hall rooms. One church even offers beverages and sno-cones.

So this post is obviously from my vantage point as a new student back in the '80s. What are your memories from orientation?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Making "The List"

It’s a fun little badge to put on your Web site. It’s fun to read the headline in the local paper. And it’s even more fun see who made “the list” and who, um, didn’t.

I’m talking about the latest release of the U.S.News & World Report’s 2010 “America’s Best Colleges Guide” which was announced Aug. 20. (In which Bluffton was listed 20th in the top tier of Best Baccalaureate Colleges in the Midwest - the 12th year Bluffton has been included in the guide.)

For what it’s worth, there are several categories of “best colleges” – best national university, best university-masters, best liberal arts colleges, best baccalaureate college – and even more lists, A+ schools for B students, business, diversity, engineering and many more.

But what does it mean? “For families, the U.S. News rankings provide an excellent starting point because they offer the opportunity to judge the relative quality of institutions based on widely accepted indicators of excellence. You can compare different schools' numbers at a glance, and looking at unfamiliar schools that are ranked near schools you know can be a good way to broaden your search.” (U.S.News & Report news release)

It would be tough to come to a consensus on what are the most important “indicators of excellence.” And U.S.News has taken some lumps for this in the past. But you might as well start somewhere, so for this list, indicators (and Bluffton stats) include average frosh retention rate (73%), average graduation rate (59%), % of classes under 20 (57%), % of classes of 50 or more (1%), student/faculty ratio (13/1), % of full time faculty (80%), frosh in the top 25% of HS class (40%), alumni giving rate (24%) and more.

So what do we do next? We will keep doing what it is we do best; educating students, “preparing students of all backgrounds for life as well as vocation, for responsible citizenship, for service to all peoples and ultimately for the purposes of God’s universal kingdom.”

Monday, August 17, 2009

It can now be told…

Coach Veidt introduced former Washington Redskins player, two-time Super Bowl winner and current Bluffton defensive assistant coach Clarence Vaughn to the team Saturday night.

He’ll be with the team through the season thanks to a NFLPA/NCAA program that pairs retired NFL players with DII and DIII schools to give them coaching experience and the schools an amazing resource. More than 70 schools and more than 30 NFL alumni applied to participate. Only 12 matches were made – and Bluffton was one of them. (read the news release)

Coach Vaughn told Bluffton’s PR director that he was given three schools to consider. It was the football video on the athletics Web site that sealed the deal! He was impressed by how well-spoken the student-athletes were, by the intensity he saw in the coaches. Our students are the best!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Are you ready for some Beaver football?

The home opener is Saturday, Sept. 5. Consider this your personal invitation to be part of the excitement of 2009 Bluffton football! There will be a picnic, give-aways at the gate, the Beaver Dam. We’re hoping to pack the stands and cheer the Beavers on to victory.

OK, we all know the Beavers’ football team has struggled in the past.

So why should this year be any different for Bluffton football, coming off of two years with identical 1-9 records? Last year was a transition year as first-year Head Coach Tyson Veidt worked to shape this team. It sounds cliché, but he is a very intense individual. If his players pick up just a fraction of his intensity, you should be able to hear the shoulder pads popping as our “boys” take it to the house. (Watch the Bluffton football video.)

Remember the Beaver Dam student fan section? It’s coming back this year. So there will be a renewed energy coming from the stands. And there is something else new this year that will add a whole new dimension to Bluffton football, a whole new excitement to the team. I can’t tell you what it is yet, but trust me, it’s BIG!

So make plans now to join us for the home opener vs. Alma on Game Day @ Bluffton. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5. Or come early and join us for a picnic lunch under the tent at the stadium. Cost for the picnic is $6.

Go Beavers!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tucked away in a corner of the Bluffton University campus is an amazing place. It’s a quiet place for reflection; a cool, shaded place to relax from the heat of the day; a resource place for teachers; a learning place for students.

The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center was founded in in 1987 to provide a resource for children to gain skills necessary for developing a vision of peace. The center is a library with children’s books on peace, multiculturalism, social issues and more; teacher resources; art work to promote discussion and the Honda Outdoor Peace Sculpture Garden.

A two-day conference for students in grades 3-7, Celebration of Peace: Beyond Borders, will be held Oct. 23-24, 2009. Through music, storytelling, drama, art, drumming, games, multicultural interaction and more, students will recognize and learn to see beyond the “borders” created by society to separate people.

Interested in learning more about the Lion and Lamb? An open house is set for Aug. 18.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Down time on campus?

Many people have the misconception that all work ceases on college campuses during the summer. Ah contraire.

While it is true that there are significantly fewer Bluffton students and faculty around during the summer, there is still much activity on campus and with our students, alumni and faculty.

Here is just a sampling of activities from Bluffton this summer.

Summer dreaming/MIR
While many students head home to summer jobs and internships, several students are exploring their vocation through Summer Dreaming Grants, Ministry Inquiry Program or Pathways to Ministry scholarship program.

Research Center grants
Three faculty members received grants to support summer projects that are scholarly or creative in nature through the Bluffton University Research Center. They will report on their research in Friday Colloquium presentations this academic year.

Mathematics education workshops

Each year Duane Bollenbacher, mathematics, hosts a series of three-day workshops for middle school and high school math teachers. Each workshop can be taken for 20 contact hours, LPDC credit or one semester hour graduate workshop credit.

Marpeck conference
More than 75 Anabaptist scholars from around the world gathered at Bluffton for the Anabaptist Convictions after Marpeck Conference in June. (Yes, Marpeck. It’s not a typo.)

Conference center

Bluffton’s campus becomes a conference center during the summer months. More than 7,000 guests will visit campus this summer for various events including

  • band camps for 11 high school marching bands (including the Willard H.S. band that has been on campus every summer since 1975)
  • high school basketball, volleyball and soccer day camps
  • a wedding on the Intramural Field and a wedding reception in Marbeck Center
  • pre-Mennonite Church USA convention lodging for six youth groups representing Kansas, Oregon and Pennsylvania
  • Catholic youth gathering from the Toledo Diocese, an annual event on campus dating from 1971
  • events such as the American Cancer Society Bluffton Relay for Life, the Lyons Club Festival of Wheels and the Bluffton/Pandora Rotary Freedom Fest celebration

Alumni events
Good times were had by all at two annual alumni summer events, the Young Alumni Ultimate Frisbee event in June and the Alumni and Friends Golf Scramble in July. In addition, this year more than 100 alumni gathered for a reunion at the Mennonite Church USA conference held in Columbus, Ohio.

Your turn. How have you been keeping busy this summer thus far?

Friday, June 19, 2009

How do you serve?

For 110 years, Bluffton University has offered a high-quality education based on the enduring values of Discovery, Community, Respect and Service.

In the summer 2009 Bluffton magazine, five alumni shared how they live out the value of service. (Bluffton magazine )

Now it is your turn. We want to know how Bluffton alumni are serving the world. No act of service is too big or too small. We’d love to hear from you.