Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Watering the seed

Alumni chat at the reception prior to the President's Banquet.

Servant leader. That is how Bethny (Ricks ’06) Brown sees herself. She said Bluffton “definitely watered the seed” of servant leadership which her parents had planted. Bethny strives to promote ethical work environments in her role as executive human resources director at Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.

She accepted the 2014 Outstanding Young Alumni Award Saturday evening at the first President’s Banquet. Bill Herr ’61 received the Lifetime Service Award which is presented to an alumni who has “made a difference in the lives of others.”

After retiring as a high school math teacher, Bill began to volunteer, and was then hired, as chaplain at Bluffton’s Mennonite Memorial Home. In his remarks, Bill also spoke of the importance of service and focused on the motto “The Truth Makes Free” to illustrate how Bluffton encourages students and alumni to serve. “Seeking truth means following in Jesus’ footsteps, which requires service.”

In recent years the tradition has been to celebrate alumni and donors in two separate Homecoming banquets - the alumni award banquet on Friday night and the President’s Dinner for donors on Saturday. Inevitably come Monday morning, the conversation on campus would lead to how nice it would have been for the donors to hear the touching alumni stories, and for the alumni to hear the inspiring donor stories.

So this year, the two banquets were merged into one Saturday night extravaganza. Have to admit I was a little concerned. Taking two full banquets and merging their content into one? But to be honest, the program moved along quite nicely and the program was over at 8:20 p.m.

President Harder outlined projects which were possible thanks to donor support, such as the new Collaborative MBA program which began last summer; the “Swords to Plowshares” children’s book recently published by The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center, and initial concept planning for a new science building to support growing enrollment.

Still in process is fundraising for the Alumni Field project. The hope is to reach the $1 million goal by spring so the planned FieldTurf and track resurfacing can be in place for the fall 2015 sports season.

I’d be interested in how others feel about the combined banquets. I left the banquet energized by the exciting things my alma mater (and current employer) is doing and the way it – and by extension we – touch student’s lives for the good.

>>>  more about the President's Banquet

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