Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's about that time

Guest post by Jacqui Slinger
Director of academic development services

It’s hard to believe that final exams are only one week of classes, one Forum, one Chapel and one Handel’s Messiah away.

It is time now to kick it into “Beaver gear” by being hardworking and industrious while preparing for those exams.

The first step is to find the right place to study. For most students that means some place outside of your residence hall room, at least for part of the time. The library provides a quiet place to study—find your own nook to call your own.

The Learning Resource Center allows you to go someplace quiet with other people who have the same goal. Tutors are available to assist with most general education classes and study groups allow you to bounce ideas off of others who are taking the same course. The Technology Center is the place to go to complete assignments that require computer assistance. Visit the Writing Center for expertise in the writing process. Each of these places offers excellent service and specific knowledge.

Then for the next two weeks, carry study material with you wherever you go. You never know when you will have time to study. Create flashcards of key terms to flip through while waiting for a meeting to begin, turn textbook chapter headings into questions and quiz a classmate at lunch, record a complicated chapter of a textbook on tape and play it before you go to sleep at night, etc. (I’ve got a million more ideas from where these came from... )

Just as important is to make time to for stress relief. A favorite is the annual Finals Breakfast to be held this year on Dec. 13 beginning at 10 p.m. in Marbeck Commons.

A fun, festive atmosphere is created by Marbeck Center Board during which faculty and staff serve good food while wearing our silliest holiday sweaters. Contests, singing and more makes the night a good time to forget the stress for a short time and to let you, our students, know that you are cared for and that we wish you well both in your exams and during the holiday season.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In all things give thanks

“I’m thankful for the past, because the past is why I’m here today.”

Not exactly what I expected to be written when people were given the opportunity to anonymously express thanks on the PR conference room white board. Thanksgiving break, home cooking, family, health; these would not have surprised me. But “I’m thankful for the past?”

Maybe it wasn’t intended, but I read into that statement gratefulness for all the good and the bad; the heartbreak and the joy. It takes a very strong person to be thankful for all that is past, and to acknowledge its role in shaping who we are today as individuals, as families, as institutions and as a country.

And depending on the past, some may never get to this place. Acceptance – OK. But thankfulness? That can be a stretch.

So to whoever wrote this statement, for whatever past you are referring to, I’m thankful for the you that you are today. Consider yourself hugged.

I’m also thankful that the rest of the posts were, while for the most part thoughtful, a bit less deep.

We can all be thankful for the long weekend, for indoor plumbing (curious about the story behind that one!), for nice people and for all of our student workers, including Ariel Shuey.

From all of us at Bluffton, Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

On a sugar high

Every year the email comes around recruiting judges for the Fundamentals in Food Preparation cake contest. Every year I’m tempted. And most years - well every year until now - I’ve resisted.

Thinking it would be fun to write about in this blog, I volunteered. But while walking over to Berky Hall on cold, windy Thursday afternoon, I was already regretting the number of calories I was about to consume.

The task seemed simple enough. Six judges were divided into two groups. Group A tasted the cakes in group A, and nominated three semi-finalists. Group B judges did the same with the group B cakes. Then Academic Dean Sally Weaver Sommer and Associate Dean Lamar Nisly selected the winners.

The first task was to judge on appearance. We have very creative students, there was a pumpkin cake made to look like a pumpkin, complete with a green “stem”; a cake wrapped in fondant; a cake surrounded by KitKats and topped with M&Ms to look like a candy dish.

Now do they compete with the Food Network’s Ace of Cakes? Not so much, but for some of these students this was their first attempt at decorating a cake. They all looked good. But a judge judges, so I scored the group A cakes on appearance. There, that wasn’t too tough.

But then came the hard part. Judging on flavor and on palatability - or as the directions said “mouth-feel.” This is when I realized that I was such a newbie. Long-time judge Steve Rodabaugh is rolling the cake around in his mouth, analyzing, debating. Another long-time judge Darryl Nester has his own system, analyzing the tastes, jotting notes on the score sheet, very methodical.

Me? I went with first impressions. Can I justify the scores given? Does “that was yummy” count? I’d never make it as a judge on Chopped.
The Bluffton University Nutrition Association will serve cake at Friday night's "Fill the CUP" spaghetti dinner.
Katie the student photographer is taking photos, drooling over the cakes and looking over my shoulder. As I tally the scores, she whispers, that chocolate cake was made by a soccer player. Call me relieved that I had scored it in my personal top three! In the end it wasn’t chosen as a semi-finalist because of appearance. But heck it was probably the first cake he had ever decorated. Not a bad start.

Jealous yet? Hungry for cake?

You are in luck. The Bluffton University Nutrition Association will be serving cake at its annual Fill the CUP spaghetti dinner Friday night. Come to the Bluffton First Mennonite Church, 5-7 p.m., for a donation-only meal. You are invited to contribute cash or canned goods for the Lima-based Churches United Food Pantry.

And enjoy cake made by Bluffton’s students.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Health and Fitness Education Center entry level
Many people are watching the progress of the Health and Fitness Education Center with great interest. In the past month there have been more than 2,000 visitors to the live construction webcam (500 alone from on campus.)

“So, when I look at the live construction, what am I seeing?” Funny you should ask.

The steel support beams are along the north and west walls of the performance arena, i.e. the gym. The wall angling off the west arena wall is the north edge of the multi-purpose facilities; walkways, multi-purpose rooms, Hall of Fame area, concession area, rest rooms, etc.

The weights and fitness center, for use by all students, will be located on the Marbeck (south) side of the building.

According to Kevin Nickel, vice president for fiscal affairs, the project is on schedule. He also provided a few fun facts…

“There will be about 500,000 lbs of steel in the building. The vertical support columns are about 7,000 lbs each. The trusses are 25,000 lbs each. About 1,100 yards of concrete have been poured to form the walls. The elevator shaft now stands at 34 feet and will be completed once the third floor is poured.”
There are probably few groups watching the construction with greater anticipation than the men’s and women’s basketball coaches and student-athletes. From the beginning the hope has been that the building would be open for the 2012-13 basketball seasons.

MCB (Marbeck Center Board) will kick off the 2011-12 basketball season with their annual Midnight Madness festivities Sunday at 10 p.m. with contests, faculty/staff vs. students game, refreshments and, of course, an appearance by J. Denny Beaver.

Not that we’re looking past the final weekend of fall sports of course, as the football team travels to Defiance and cross-country competes in NCAA regionals at Oberlin.

Go Beavers!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Synergistic effect: the combining of two things which creates a new thing that is greater than the sum of its parts.

That is what I am expecting to experience next week when the music department and campus ministries join forces for Fall Spiritual Life Week (SLW), “Finding Your Voice,” and a music event “Blended Voices: Music and Worship in the Gospel Tradition.”

Speaker/vocalist and assistant professor of music Crystal Sellers will kick off SLW Sunday night, followed by a week’s worth of special events with special guest Dr. Raymond Wise.

By the weekend, SLW will morph into a music conference. Dr. Wise will continue as guest presenter for a day of workshops, concluding with a combined Gospel choir concert Saturday night. (6 p.m., Founders, free and open to the public. #shamelessPlug)

Because of this collaboration, there have been more people planning for the week. More people vested in its outcome. More people involved. It’s going to be great.

The guiding verse for SLW is Ephesians 5:19b-20:

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)
Maybe I can add to this synergy in some small way. While I expect SLW focus will be on “sing and make music” in the guiding verse, I’m drawn to “always giving thanks.”

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a blog post about a “100 Days of Gratitude” experiment where each day the author posted things for which he was thankful, knowing that we typically find that which we seek. "Simply put, the higher your level of gratitude the happier you are in life. The happier you are in life the more things you have to be grateful for. It’s a self-perpetuating energy." 

Knowing I could stand to better my attitude, I started my own 75 Days of Thankfulness. (At that point it was 75 days until New Years.) Earlier this week a high school classmate decided to make thankfulness posts through Thanksgiving. When I shared that with a student in my office, she decided to also express thanks via Facebook this month, and at least one of her friends is doing the same.

You are welcome to join us. Take some time to day to find your voice, blend your voice with those around you and give thanks.