Monday, April 25, 2011

Pointing the way

by Eva Voth ‘08
Eva will be one of the guest presentors as Bluffton’s social work program is highlighted on May Day weekend.

I was elementary-age and was feeling a little out of my league, but very important.

I'd walked down the road a half of a mile from my house to the corner of Tom Fett and Bixel roads. It was a bit of a dreary day, but there was excitement in the air. It was May Day. And I had the very important job of making sure the runners in the May Day race didn't take the wrong turn.

I stood at my post, pointing the way... there went Bill Suter... Lawrence Matthews... Louise Matthews.... They all waved at me as they ran around the corner and I waved back.

That is my earliest memory of May Day.

As the daughter, sister, cousin, granddaughter, niece, great niece, and great granddaughter of Bluffton University attendees, I have a lifetime of knowledge about Bluffton University. It was sometime in junior high that I was at a university function with my parents and the name tags were supposed to specify what year the wearer had graduated. So I carefully counted out on my fingers how many years it would be until I graduated and then proudly wrote on my name tag, "Eva Voth '07."

Several May Days and one college application later, I stepped on campus in a different capacity than ever before. Instead of just hearing stories and attending functions with my parents, I was now a student. I was a Bluffton University student. Finally, I got to experience first hand the Bluffton tradition and heritage, and over the next four years, they become my own.

The last May Day I attended was for my own graduation, but this year I will be returning to my home town, to my home university, to my roots, my heritage, to participate once again in the May Day festivities. This year, I’ve been invited to speak at a short program in Musselman Library, the very place where I spent hours and hours pouring over books in pursuit of greater knowledge (i.e. because I had to, to pass Professor Brubaker's classes).

In the past few years, a particular program of study has been highlighted as part of May Day festivities. This year the featured program is social work - my field of study - and I am looking forward to speaking about my path into the growing social work academic program at Bluffton and what I've been doing in social work since graduation.

Consider this a personal invitation to come to the great Musselman Library at 3:30 p.m. May 7, 2011, to hear Elaine Ragsdale, David Voth (my dad) and myself share about our experiences as Bluffton graduates in social work. See you then!

May Day schedule and registration form

Monday, April 18, 2011

Life Goes Faster Than You Think

Guest post by Maria Langenkamp (right) pictured with J. Denny and her roomie Crista Buller at an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.

It’s just two and a half more weeks until summer… two and a half weeks and I can call myself a sophomore. My first year here at Bluffton University has flown by. I’ve lost all of those precious hours somewhere amidst meeting new friends, getting involved in campus life, and earning my first few college A’s.

Upperclassmen have been telling me that college goes faster than you think; and as I look back at my first year, I whole heartedly agree. Somewhere in the whirlwind of activity I’ve managed to find the Maria I’ve always wanted to be.

Being away at college has forced me to think for myself and also take care of myself. Oh how I miss my Mom sometimes! (If she saw my unmade bed I think her heart might stop!) It appears I’ve traded in home cooked meals for adventure and privacy for fun. All and all it is a liberating feeling to be in charge of my own life, even if I regress sometimes and crave the security of home.

I expected a lot from college as I eagerly awaited orientation weekend last summer; I could barely contain my excitement at the idea of meeting new people and having a fresh start. When the first weekend of school got here I remember it going beyond my expectations. The people were so welcoming and the campus was so pretty. My RA was such a sweetheart and her kindness prompted me to open up instantly.

After a full first day of activities I specifically remember lying in my dorm room bed. It was my first time permanently sleeping somewhere else and I felt at peace; I felt perfectly at home, as if this is where God wanted me to be all along.

Classes have been going well and instead of deterring me from another year of college they have invigorated my desire to learn more. This feeling has caught me by surprise. I knew college would teach me new things about myself but I did not anticipate such a hunger for knowledge to be one of them. Of course, I am very pleased with this new development.

As my freshman year draws to close I cannot help but be in awe of how quickly my life is running by and also how perfectly happy I feel among the chaos. As the weather warms up and the trees begin to bud I have to remember to keep my nose in books and out of the tennis courts and clouds. But hey I only need to do that for two and a half more weeks.

And if college has taught me nothing else, it has taught me how fast two and a half weeks can go. I better not blink for fearing of missing May Day and that dance I’ve been preparing for. Wish me luck. Hopefully I don’t tangle up the ribbon on the Maypole!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Let’s plan a meet-up

May Day 2011 is right around the corner. Months of planning are coming down to the final 3 ½ week-push.

On campus, the court has been selected, dancers recruited and musical rehearsals are in full swing. Programs are in their final proof stage before being sent off to the printer. The king and queen are working on their remarks. Set construction for the musical begins today. And that’s just a sampling of all the activity surrounding this annual celebration.

Members of the ‘5-year reunion classes’ – for class years ending in 6 or 1, and last year’s graduating class – have received invitations to their class reunion.

My invite read “Bluffton welcomes the class of 1986 for their 25-year reunion.” Twenty-five years? Really? I don’t feel like we should be marking our 25-year reunion.

It’s interesting talking with alumni from earlier classes. They know exactly who was in their class. Maybe it’s due to the campus traditions of the day - Freshman Beanies and Senior Sneak. Me? I’m glancing through the ‘86 yearbook senior section and thinking “really? I thought she was older than us.” Or “where is so-and-so? I thought he graduated with us.”

Alumni professionals will tell you that somewhere along the line students became more closely affiliated with interest groups such as teams, clubs, music ensembles or majors, than with their graduating class. That’s why over the years group reunions have been added to the May Day schedule along with the class reunions. For many years, former members of the vocal ensembles have gathered for an Alumni Sing. A few years ago, departmental reunions were added and just last year the inaugural Ministry Teams reunion was held. This year, a special reunion will be held for the social work department.

The last few reunions for the class of ’86, I’m thinking we had 12-15 people there. Wouldn’t it be fun to double or triple that number? A class of ’86 Facebook group was created to start a ‘virtual reunion’ that would –in theory– continue with an in-person meet-up at May Day. So far it hasn’t taken off. Here’s your invitation to join, add your friends and post.

You’re not part of the 25-year class, no problems. Start your own Facebook group. Post on the Bluffton University page. Let the reuniting begin!

See you on campus soon! May Day class alumnotes May Day schedule May Day registration form

Monday, April 4, 2011

Life without Marbeck?

There wasn’t much fanfare last week, just a simple tweet from our resident librarian/social media extraordinaire - Carrie (Holcomb '99) Phillips, aka @crp4 - alluding to Marbeck Center’s 43rd birthday.

In the years prior to 1968, the campus dining hall was located in the lower floor of what is now known as “Old Ropp.” In the years since that space has been used for many things, a classroom; exercise room; and currently as the new Bluffton Centre for Academic Excellence, a place for honor students to gather.

It was obvious that as the campus community continued to grow (enrollment had jumped the 400 student barrier in 1960) that a larger dining hall was needed to accommodate the larger student body. However President Bob Kreider’s vision was to build a student union.

“When the old Ropp dining hall taxed beyond capacity by mid-decade, an even bigger project would be the construction of a new dining facility. Kreider coaxed the trustees into envisioning a much more ambitious building than a mere cafeteria…It would have a bookstore, post office, snack shop, loft and dining facilities that could accommodate up to 900, with room for future expansion.” (Dancing with the Kobzar pg. 163-164)

What wonderful forethought. Where would we be now without Marbeck? As President Kreider envisioned, Marbeck Center has become a hub of activity for students and alumni alike. Dances, art displays, concerts, receptions and more have been held in the common spaces. Smaller spaces are routinely used for meetings and luncheons.

With the addition of the aptly named Bob’s Place in 2002, Marbeck Commons now provides dining services for nearly 800 residential students. Bob’s also offers additional meeting spaces, a larger place to hang out and a small performance stage that is well-used for coffee-house style concerts, open mic nights, talent shows and more.

It’s obvious that Marbeck Center transformed Bluffton’s campus in 1968, in the same way that Centennial Hall did in 2000 and the new Health and Fitness Education Center will in the future.

Thank you to all who played a role in making Marbeck Center a reality 43 years ago. You’ve done a great thing.

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