Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How much is enough?

There are some issues that are just easy to get behind. When we are forced to consider these societal challenges, when we really acknowledge the issue, it’s an easy decision to act.

For instance, Habitat for Humanity’s “theology of a hammer,” the idea of sharing God’s love by working WITH (as opposed to FOR) people in need to build affordable, decent housing. When you see a family who is trying to improve their circumstances but cannot because of a housing situation, the decision to give them a hand up is an easy one.

I think this year’s Civic Engagement Theme, “Living with Enough: Responding to Global Poverty,” is another good example.

We have heard from students feeling conflicted as they look into their over-stuffed closets upon returning from cross cultural experiences. One of our student workers told us of the lengths his host family went to for fresh water. That conversation often comes to mind when I’m mindlessly running water while doing dishes.

When proofing the Civic Engagement Day schedule last week, I was impressed with the breadth of sessions being offered that day, with how many different departments are presenting and how many of these presentations are being led by students. Art, business studies, biology, mathematics, TESOL, religion, sociology and education are just a few of the departments taking part in Civic Engagement Day on April 6.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the campus has adopted a campus-wide theme to guide academic and student life projects. Each year the theme begins with assigned summer reading for first-year students and concludes with a day set aside for reflection in the spring. In between there are class discussions, student life activities, special Forum speakers and other academic presentations. Previous civic engagement themes have been the environment, security and immigration.

It’s obvious that “Living with Enough” has touched students, faculty and staff alike this year. Accepting the challenge presented by a fall semester Forum speaker, a group of students traveled to Atlanta to work with Mission Year during spring break.

May we continue to struggle with the question of how much is enough beyond the end of this academic year.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Signs that it must be spring

As the temperatures near 70 degrees today, there are many signs that spring has arrived on campus.

10. Flip flops are back, even though for some people flips are a year-round attire.

9. Darryl Nester ‘88, professor of mathematics, has been walking to campus, in short sleeves. Again, Darryl walking to campus isn’t unusual, but having ditched the coat…

8. Those crazy squirrels are everywhere.

7. FORE! The Tennis Ball Golfers are out.

6. The annual faculty/staff fitness challenge began this week. This year’s challenge will conclude with participation in the May Day Run.

5. The tennis courts near Lincoln are hopping. Could it be students preparing for the return of intercollegiate tennis in 2011-12?

4. A variety of music genres can be heard through open windows in the residence halls.

3. There was a run on ice cream cones in The Commons. Of course the sugar cones were restocked yesterday after I chose a different dessert.

2. Today is the Bluffton Beaver baseball home opener. (Softball is playing at Alma today.)

And the number one sign that it must be spring

1. Trevor Bechtel, assistant professor of religion, just rolled by on a skateboard with his satchel slung over his shoulder.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

One Bite at a Time

Eight weeks. Once students return from spring break on Sunday, that’s what is left in the school year. Just eight weeks to finish academic papers, projects and presentations. Eight weeks to rehearse the May Day musical. Eight weeks for seniors to prepare for life after college, while soaking in as much of Bluffton as possible.

For faculty and staff, there are graduation lists to approve, preparations for May Day and graduation events, funds to raise for the new Health and Fitness Education Center and preparations for next fall with room draw, financial aid packets, students to recruit, orientation to plan. Whew.

Let’s just say these next eight weeks on campus will be crazy, exciting, stressful and invigorating.

Just as I start to anticipate and feel the stress building, my eye is drawn to a knickknack distributed during the last Web redesign. It’s a picture frame in the shape of an elephant with the words “One Bite at a Time.”

Riddle me this, “How do you eat an elephant? One Bite at a Time.” How do you tackle any huge project or even multiple big projects? One bite at a time.

But it’s never a bad idea to enlist the support and assistance of others. Consider this your invitation to drop a note of appreciation and/or support to your favorite student or professor. You could also show your support by attending end-of-the-year concerts, art shows, musicals and other events.
Show some love to the admissions staff! Do you know of a high school student who would excel at Bluffton? Let us know and we’ll reach out to them.

Development officers are working to raise $2.3 million for the Health and Fitness Education Center before we can break ground. What was that Grandma used to say? Many hands make for light work? Get involved now.

Need more ideas? Reconnect with friends and fellow classmates while supporting the alumni relations staff by attending May Day on May 7, Ultimate Frisbee on June 25 and/or the Golf Outing on July 16.

Elephant buffet anyone?

Thursday, March 3, 2011


My first collegiate class was Cartooning with Ray “Sugar Ray” Hamman. What a wonderful introduction to college life. While studying the various types of cartoons and cartoonists, we learned how to use the library, study skills, writing papers and other general college-survival skills.

(My favorite cartoonist was Al Hirschfeld who hid his daughter's name in all of his drawings.)

What I remember most about this class was Professor Hamman’s appreciation for serendipity, which Webster’s defines as the “aptitude for making fortunate discoveries accidentally.”

So what brings this memory to mind now? We’re have “made a fortunate discovery” in the advancement division.

A few months back we decided to work to update the look of the online giving site. The vendor that we had purchased our alumni database from just happened to have a solution that would update the look - with a few additional features. Cool.

Now that the “Bluffton University Connects” site is live, we’re finding that in addition to being more visually-appealing, it is also more user-friendly. Now from just one secure site, alumni and friends will be able to update contact information – name, address, phone – maintain enewsletter subscriptions, make gifts and review giving history. Nice.

And on our end, we can better determine what news the majority of you are interested in. Which emails do you open? Which stories to you click through for more information? In theory this will enable me to create enewsletters which better provide the information you are most interested in receiving. Sweet.

Check out Bluffton University Connects. When you register, a live person will verify that you are an alumni or friend, and approve your registration. Once you have access, please enjoy using this new feature to stay connected to Bluffton.