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.