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

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