Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Both the volleyball and women's basketball
teams made time for site seeing while in St. Louis.
What are the chances? Sometimes things just happen like they are meant to be.

Like when a season-opening tip-off women’s basketball tourney is scheduled for the same weekend in the same city as the volleyball team is playing in the first round of NCAA post season tournament AND when volleyball plays Friday and basketball plays on Saturday/ Sunday AND when the basketball team is planning to be in town Friday night anyways for team bonding. One could not have planned this any better.

While I had heard the word serendipity before, I remember being encouraged to embrace the concept of serendipity in my first ever collegiate class taught by Dr. Ray Hamman. He talked a lot about serendipity, of “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprises,” of “making discoveries, by accident, of things which they were not in quest of.” (Wikipedia) And to being open to make the most of these “pleasant surprises.”

Like rearranging basketball team bonding activities to include cheering on fellow student-athletes in the national tournament. 

I had the opportunity to drive one of the vans for the women’s basketball team. We were very close to a mutiny in my van as we drove all over the Washington University at St. Louis campus trying to find the gym, especially as the time ticked closer and closer to game time.

Once we finally arrived. I have to admit that I was pretty focused on the volleyball game and didn't pay much attention to the team sitting at the end of the court. That is until the game was over. After the announcement that fans needed to stay off the court following the game, that storming the court could be grounds for legal action.

Win or lose, the volleyball team always huddles after the game to do the Beaver Call.

Was it planned? Was it one of those moments of embraced serendipity? But the basketball team joined the volleyball team on the court. Classmates. Fellow student-athletes. Friends.

I’m a Beaver, You’re a Beaver,
We are Beavers All
And when we get together
We do the Beaver Call
B-E-A-V-E-R Beavers! Beavers!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Different decades... Same spirit

1942 May Day processional
Guest post by Carrie (Holcomb '99) Phillips
Archives and special collections librarian

As I've been working with students in the Introduction to the Study of History class with their assignment work in the archives, I've been wondering how many other college and university archivists out there are alumni of the institutions they serve. So while my unofficial facebook straw poll of my own librarian and archivist colleagues populates, I'm going to talk about why that's working out REALLY WELL for me.

Carrie Phillips with
student assistant Dana Otto
As a 1999 graduate of Bluffton, I've got four years of my own Bluffton memories to think of fondly. Singing in the nun chorus of The Sound of Music. Living in the same Ropp Addition room during two different years. Studying for Humanities II with the guy I'd eventually marry. And lots more.

Because I have these memories to support the study that I've undertaken to be in this vocation, I think I'm especially well-suited to care for the traces of Bluffton from times past - all of the memories and stories which are tangled and embedded in the materials for which I care on a daily basis. The decades may be different, the technology is different, and the names are different, but the experiences and spirit surrounding them are often remarkably similar - something I know because of the context I have as a fellow Beaver.

And speaking of technology, I'm particularly excited about a project we've been working on in the archives to make some of those stories and experiences a little easier to revisit. Using equipment purchased by the Ohio Private Academic Libraries consortium (of which Bluffton is a member) and some that we have here at Musselman Library, we've begun digitizing some of those traces of Bluffton from times past, and we're posting them online at a site we're calling Bluffton University Memory.

To date, my assistants and I have scanned and posted more than 500 photographs from the University Archives photograph collection, as well as about 20 years' worth of issues from The Witmarsum, the student newspaper. The collections are searchable, so you can look for photos of your residence hall, or writeups from early football games or accounts of what life was like at Bluffton in the time surrounding World War II.

As a legacy alumna, it's been really fun to find traces of my grandparents here - something that happens more often than I ever expected in my daily work. Using Bluffton University Memory, I can read about their selection as May Queen and Most Popular Man in the May 23, 1942 issue of The Witmarsum and I can see photographs of the 1942 May Day processional, as they crossed the field of onlookers prior to the Maypole dance.

With this post, I invite you to browse the site and see what memories you find. As we continue to add more issues of The Witmarsum, more recent photographs and even more content, I expect to connect more and more alumni to more of these stories and experiences.

Spend some time reminiscing with Bluffton University Memory, and send your comments to archives@bluffton.edu!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Finding Your Purple Profession?!

Guest post by Shari Ayers, Director of the Center for Career and Vocation

I humbly submit to you that I am a “Lost Item Whisperer” – finder of lost papers, pursuer of wayward keys, the first person you should call when your passport has seemingly evaporated on the night before that trip-of-a-lifetime. I’m not sure that “lost item whisperer” is an actual profession, but if it is, I’m your gal. 

I have noticed that what often prevents people from finding the things they have misplaced is the tendency to concentrate their search in the expected places. The key to finding lost things is to look in the places that are unexpected, inconvenient and sometimes downright mystifying. (How did my cell phone get in the cereal box?!) The key, in other words, to finding things is to be open to surprise.

November is National Career Development Month. Bluffton’s Center for Career & Vocation is working with wonderful partners around campus to provide workshops, employer visits, networking events, lunch discussions and much more. All of these opportunities are clustered around the theme: “Finding Your #PurpleProfession … through Curiosity, Hope and Gratitude.” It’s a mouthful, I’ll grant you! You may find yourself wondering: what’s a Purple Profession and why does it need finding? Who lost it in the first place?

Here in the Center for Career & Vocation, we use the term Purple Profession to describe those creative, vocational moments when two seemingly unrelated things are held together in a new way: 
  • It could be an undecided student who is leaning toward a double major in business administration and youth ministry because she wants to be a thoughtful, effective leader for faith-based organizations.
  • It could be a public health major who opts for a semester in Guatemala because he wants to use his bilingual skills and his global experience to help change the world.
  • It could be a graduate who always knew she wanted to be a math teacher, but who is now surprised to find that she can also put her Bluffton theatre experience to use to produce the first play her inner city district has seen in almost a decade.

I don’t know if a Purple Profession is ever truly lost, but I do know that in my own life this kind of innovative, exciting, emerging work has usually been found in surprising places, and quite often at unexpected (perhaps even inconvenient) times. What has helped me to be open to such creative callings has been cultivating a spirit of curiosity, a sense of hope and a deep well of gratitude for the opportunities before me. These are the same things we are trying to generate throughout this month long series of events and conversations.

Kendra Nickel and I like to say that the Center for Career & Vocation exists to help students emerge from their Bluffton experience feeling both “career ready” and “purpose led.” Sometimes that can seem like an unexpected, inconvenient and even downright mystifying goal. Always, though, it feels like helping someone to find that true #PurpleProfession.