Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What a beginning!

Ross Kauffman welcomes guest speaker Deo Niyizonkiza
 What a way to begin the academic year.

First, “Strength in What Remains” was assigned as required reading for all first-year students and student leaders. Then, the protagonist of the book, Deogratias Niyizonkiza - who escaped Burundi genocide with little more than his life, who landed in NYC knowing no English, who thanks to the kindness of strangers learned the language and earned degrees from Columbia and Harvard Universities, who returned to Burundi to serve his people - spoke during Opening Convocation.

He also spoke with first-year students during a Monday evening orientation event. Following which a student posted a link to the Village Health Center in Burundi on the university Facebook page with the comment:

“Thank you Deo for coming to talk to us!”
Founders Hall was filled for Opening Convocation. Along with faculty in academic regalia, first-year students, returning students and staff, many community members attended the presentation, including two couples from First Presbyterian church in Findlay. One of the men shared in the Faculty/Staff Lunch (paraphrased)
“We read ‘Strength in What Remains’ in Sunday School. We never imagined that we would have the opportunity to hear Deo speak in person. This has been an awesome experience."
The entire journey Deo shared was both horrifying and amazing, to see this soft-spoken individual say matter-of-factly “I have such a scar” after showing images of beaten and burnt survivors. He has and is now working with community members, governments and philanthropists to build a water tank, a health center, a community center and a road to provide access to all.

For too many of the examples he shared, an important “medical treatment” was to provide clean water to drink and nutritious food to eat. I cannot even get my mind around that concept.

Deb Simon-Heinfeld, aka @debBlufftonAGE, tweeted, “Vote for Deo (Bluffton University's Convocation Speaker) to win 10K for his work! GQ + The Gentlemen's Fund - Nominees

This speaker appeared to touch hearts and minds in a special way to start off the new academic year. It’s going to be exciting to see what comes next.

News release

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

25 years of "Bibliotherapy"

Guest blog by Louise Matthews
Director, The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center of Bluffton University

I have always enjoyed children’s books, and even after my children were grown, I would visit the children’s sections of libraries and book stores. I didn’t want to miss any good books coming out for kids. When others would mention the good novels they were reading, I would mention the children’s books that I had recently discovered. It seems I never outgrew my love for picture books!

As director of The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center of Bluffton University, I am thrilled that my JOB includes reading and incorporating picture books into programs for audiences of all ages.

We are celebrating The Lion and Lamb’s
25th year of promoting peace.

Our collection at the center is constantly growing and currently includes more than 3,000 books that reflect peace and related themes of kindness and respect, cultural understanding, appreciating diversity, finding inner peace, care for environment, social issues, etc. The messages and application found in these books written for children are relevant for all of us.

I recently learned the word “bibliotherapy” which refers to the use of books and literature to address issues. This aptly describes an aspect of my work here at the center as I choose books to read during programs that lay a foundation for discussion and interaction on various topics. Though it is hard to limit my list of favorite books, the following titles are high on my list for programming:
  • bullying, Hey Little Ant by Phillip & Hannah Hoose
  • appreciating diversity, People by Peter Spiers
  • giving second chances, Chance to Shine by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin
  • empathy, Don’t Laugh at Me by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin
  • understanding grief and loss, Tear Soup by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen
  • value of everyone in spite of disabilities, Puppies for Sale by Dan Clark
For additional titles, visit the Directors Choice web page.

Visual art is another resource available here at The Lion and Lamb that reflects various themes of peace. We are in the process of creating a series of short video clips highlighting some of the artwork and sculptures found in the center and in the outdoor peace garden.

We will celebrate The Lion and Lamb’s 25th year of promoting peace during the 2011-12 school year.

Events scheduled include open house receptions on Sept. 21, World Peace Day, and Oct. 1 during Homecoming. Celebration of Peace: A Bridge Between Us, a children’s conference, is scheduled for Oct 21-22. On April 3, author Jane Kurtz will present the Forum address and several other sessions with children and students. The year will conclude with a 25th birthday party for The Lion and Lamb on May 5, 2012.

With the exception of the children's conference, these events are all free and open to the public. Come and celebrate with us. Or feel free to stop by The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center. Visitors are always welcome.


Thursday, August 18, 2011


Health and Fitness Education Center site preparation as of Aug. 18, 2011
Bluffton’s latest addition to the web has gained quite a following.

I’ve heard of people checking the progress on the Health and Fitness Education Center multiple times each day via the live webcam at Others report watching the feed for a half hour at a time to determine how many truckloads of dirt are dumped every 30 minutes. Then there was the email filled with great anguish sent when the webcam link was moved off the home page.

It’s good to see that people are so excited about the new center that they are fascinated with dirt being moved. Kevin Nickel, VP for fiscal affairs, reports:
They are bringing in 18,000 cubic yards of fill dirt. That is about 1,300 truckloads. To date they have been working on site preparation. Local contractor, Don Snyder, has been doing the earthwork and site preparation work.
New water lines, electric lines and data lines have been extended to the new building site. Storm water lines are partially installed and should be completed in the next couple of weeks. The building pad is nearing the final elevation meaning the pouring of footers can begin in the next couple of weeks. New sidewalks have been poured between Marbeck and Founders/Burcky.
Currently we are ahead of schedule by a few days. That is subject to change depending on weather and any unexpected items that might arise.
It’s a good thing people are excited, because as with any major construction project there will be inconveniences, such as parking.

Parking is very limited in the three lots along Rosenberger Drive, between Elm Street and Burcky Gym. Signs are posted to guide you to the visitor parking when you visit campus. Just keep in mind, there will be more parking than before when the project is completed. It’s a short term inconvenience for a long term benefit.

Enjoy keeping tabs on the progress. The webcam now has its own tab at the lower left corner of Bluffton’s web, or feel free to bookmark the actual page,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Love those electives

Every year as I proof Bluffton’s course catalog I can’t help but to wax nostalgic. Reading over the course titles and descriptions my mind drifts back to when I sat in those classes, to the professors, to the classmates. I remember reading children’s books aloud in Oral Interp. Fond memories from Shakespeare, Statistics, Grammar, all come flooding back.

Focus. Must. Focus.

Then there are courses which are intriguing. Wouldn’t it be fun to take classes just for the pure joy of learning? No tests. No grades. Courses with no immediate purpose other than gaining knowledge - courses like Women’s History; Recreation & the Aging ProcessGender, Race and Communication; Ceramics, etc. etc.

Bluffton’s students are given the wonderful opportunity to take random classes not because they meet a gen ed or major requirement, but because they sound interesting. Love those electives. Electives can enrich your education, or might lead to your true calling. For instance I started out as a business major… but have enjoyed a career in communications for 25 years and counting.

For the last several years, the Institute for Learning in Retirement offered at Bluffton, has provided no test, no grade classes for senior citizens. For one low fee, seniors may take as many or as few classes each session as interests them. How cool is that? Classes range from art to nutrition, religion to history, and more.

Wouldn’t that be fun? But for now, I really must focus and get back to proofing the catalog!