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.