Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Would I?

Sometimes I wonder what type of alumna I’d be if I didn’t work at Bluffton. One thing for sure – I would not have just called myself an alumna.

But would I be engaged? Would I be on the web site checking out the latest news, or would I only think about Bluffton when the magazine arrives in the mail? Would I then read the magazine cover to cover, or just skim alumnotes from “my years.” Would I “like” Bluffton University on Facebook? Would I come back to campus for May Day, Homecoming, etc.?

It’s really hard to tell. While memories of my days as a student on this campus are fairly positive, life goes on and I doubt Bluffton would be first and foremost in my mind as I went about my days – that is if I wasn’t also a Bluffton staff member.

I’m sure I’d notice and smile when seeing a Bluffton dam shirt on a waitress at Texas Roadhouse (as I did last Saturday night.) I might hear rumors about what’s happening on campus. But most likely I’d be disconnected.

Bluffton alumni relations office has started a program to reconnect with alumni where they are – in their hometown, in their place of business. It’s called “Bluffton on the Road” and there is no agenda other than to connect and to share information about what’s new at Bluffton.

Over the next year or so, Bluffton administrators, faculty and/or staff members plan to meet with small groups of alumni across the Midwest. The purpose is to answer questions… What’s happening at Bluffton now? I’ve heard… is that true? And to provide information about plans and hopes for Bluffton’s future.

It all started quietly last spring. Just a simple reception for Bluffton alumni who happen to be employees at Marathon headquarters in Findlay, Ohio. Those in attendance enjoyed light refreshments and conversation with Bluffton President Jim Harder.

Since then the Bluffton on the Road (gatherings for alumni living in a certain vicinity) and Bluffton @ Work (receptions for alumni working for a certain business) programs have gained momentum. Since April, nearly 150 people have gathered for Bluffton events. We’ve been to Lima, to eastern Pennsylvania, to Parma, Ohio (near Cleveland), to Archbold, Ohio. Plans are being made for gatherings in Lancaster, Pa., in Kansas and Florida, in Columbus and Pittsburgh, and more. 

Here is your chance to reconnect with your alma mater, to gather with fellow alumni. Be watching for Bluffton on the Road to be coming near you. Announcements will be on the bluffton.edu web, on Facebook; with invitations sent via email and US mail. And if you are interested in hosting an event, contact Julia Szabo, director of alumni relations.

If you happen to live near Hesston, Kan., your Bluffton on the Road event has morphed into a full Alumni Weekend in Kansas complete with an opportunity for you to sing with the Bluffton University Gospel Choir. Make reservations by Oct. 7 to purchase music.

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