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Students First! News and Updates

May 2014 Accounting ClassPresident Jo Young ’69 Switzer is honored during the Donor Appreciation Dinner.

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Manchester honors generosity of donors and the leadership of retiring President Switzer

Manchester’s annual Donor Appreciation Dinner on April 10 was a night of recognition and gratitude for people who strengthen the University with their generosity and open doors for its students. It also was an evening to honor the transformational leadership of retiring President Jo Young ’69 Switzer for whom the union was renamed the Jo Young Switzer Center.

“We couldn’t have predicted how right Jo Young Switzer would have been for Manchester,” said Randy Brown ’87, chair of the Board of Trustees, and a member of the search committee that chose Switzer as Manchester’s 14th president. During Switzer’s nearly 10 years as president, Brown noted, the University has increased enrollment 25 percent, added a Doctor of Pharmacy program on a new Fort Wayne campus, and raised more than 95 percent of the $100 million goal for its comprehensive campaign Students First!

The new sign on the union went up the morning after the donor dinner.

Brown added that President Switzer and her husband, Professor Dave Switzer, also “have been the most generous presidential donors” in MU history. They were among those recognized at the dinner as members of the Tower Society – donors whose financial support exceeds $50,000 of lifetime giving.

More than 300 people attended the donor dinner and tribute to President Switzer in the PERC arena. Switzer opened the event by telling donors about two Manchester graduates, Sara Rundell ’03 and Bob Biggs ’67, and one current student, Martin Garcia ’15. Without the generosity of Manchester’s supporters, Switzer said, Rundell, Biggs and Garcia would not be where they are today. “Your gifts are the keys to doors that would have otherwise remained locked,” Switzer told the donors.

Timothy McElwee ’78, vice president for university advancement, thanked donors for their ongoing support of the ambitious $100 million Students First! goal, and he recognized members of each donor society who were present.

After a tribute video about President Switzer and Brown’s announcement that the union was being renamed in her honor, Switzer thanked many people for their support throughout her career. She also shared a list of values that, she said, were non-negotiable during her presidency. The list concluded with, “Remember to say ‘thank you.’”

It was a fitting conclusion to an evening of gratitude.

If you’re interested in learning more about Students First!, visit




Link’s many gifts to Manchester include board leadership, support for two campaigns

Marsha Palmer ’68 Link has given abundantly to her alma mater over the years. Her generosity has taken many forms, including a recently concluded term as chair of the Board of Trustees.

Growing up in rural Indiana, Link’s world opened up at Manchester. “Manchester was a safe place for me to grow,” she reflects. “While I felt ‘stretched’ sometimes and wondered, even at graduation, what my future would hold, the confidence and competence I gained while at Manchester have served me well.”

A music major, Link taught music in public schools for three years. She developed an interest in psychology when she saw it was a way to help children in the public schools who had problems.

Link earned her master’s degree from Purdue where her husband, Bill, was studying. After the couple moved to California and had two children, Link earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. She worked in community counseling centers, in-patient psychiatric hospitals, and the family medicine department of a large teaching hospital before starting her own consulting business. “The liberal arts education and the ‘opening of doors’ that my Manchester years provided,” she says, “certainly helped me create an interesting and diverse career.”

Link understands the value of a Manchester education. “I learned how to think critically, ask tough questions of myself and others, and explore areas of study that I would never have discovered had I gone to a different kind of college,” she says. “The world needs more places (like) MU,” adds Link, “that are willing to provide education in ways that benefit humankind and make the world a better place.”

To that end, the Links provided Link Gallery, adjacent to Wine Recital Hall, in the previous campaign. They’re now supporting Students First! with a substantial planned gift for the Academic Center and, of course, they give regularly to the Manchester Fund. “The sharing of financial resources by those who want to see MU continue to thrive is critical,” she says.
“The desire to give back in ways that can have influence and impact is important to me,” Link says. That’s why she supports the University.

Link gained so much during her four years at Manchester, and now her gifts and the gifts of others will help future generations do the same.

Join Marsha Palmer Link in supporting Students First! at





Ever since she was a small child, Miranda Piercy has loved going to school. So the senior education major plans to keep going to school for many years to come — as a teacher.

Four years ago, Miranda was looking at public universities because she thought that was all she could afford. Her focus changed when she discovered that donor-funded scholarships make a Manchester education more affordable than a state school’s. What else attracted her? “Look at it,” says Miranda pointing to the campus fountain and towering oaks on a sunny afternoon. “It’s beautiful.” It’s small too, says the Walton, Ind., native who would have been “just a number” somewhere else.

Inspired by her calculus teacher at Lewis Cass High School, Miranda first wanted to teach secondary mathematics. At Manchester, though, education majors get early exposure to every grade level, which helped Miranda realize she wanted to work with younger children. This spring, she’s student-teaching special education students at Blair Point Elementary School in Peru. She’ll be licensed to teach in a K-6 regular classroom, K-12 special education, and middle school mathematics. Versatility, she says, gives her an edge in the job market.

“It took me a while to build my confidence,” says Miranda, but Manchester faculty encouraged and guided her. “I love them all,” she says simply. Her professors know her name, care about her, and respond to text messages in the evening if she needs homework help. “The academics are great, too.”

Manchester also broadened Miranda’s small-town world. A January study abroad course that exposed her to India’s poverty was “culture shock.” The experience changed her, and she’d welcome more international travel. “You see a bigger picture when you travel abroad,” adds Miranda.

Her next big journey will be that walk across the commencement stage into a classroom of her own. It’s time, says Miranda. “I’m grown up.” She’ll leave a piece of her heart at Manchester, though. “It’s been great.”

Read more stories about MU students like Miranda >




Scholarships, faculty give first-year student a strong start

First-year students don’t always know what their future holds. Manchester accounting major Emily Anderson ’17 has a pretty good idea.

Emily hopes to use her accounting degree to land a job with Ernst and Young, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms in the United States. She wants to work her way up in the company so that she can travel and use her Spanish language skills. After less than a year on campus, Emily knows the care and support that she receives from Manchester’s passionate faculty will help her get there. “I feel as if I’m at home,” she says.

Emily chose to attend Manchester because of the accounting program’s reputation and the help she receives through scholarships. “If not for the scholarships I got from Manchester and other financial aid, I would not have been able to come here,” she says. Multiple visits to campus before she enrolled confirmed another kind of valuable support: a friendly and welcoming faculty and staff.

That support surfaced early. Emily needed help in a chemistry class and she found it in faculty members Jeff Osborne and Mark Bryant. “I was blown away at how much the professors really do care here,” recalls Emily.

Emily’s first semester went much smoother from that point. So smooth, in fact, she made the Dean’s List. “I did not think the smile would leave my face,” Emily says about her first-semester success. “I did not stop smiling until the next morning, but only because my cheeks started to really hurt.”

Emily hasn’t been at Manchester long, but she already has built lasting relationships that will help her succeed. Unlike some first-year students, Emily knows what she wants to accomplish, and she knows that her education at Manchester will propel her toward that goal. “Manchester,” she says, “will make you realize so much about yourself, and ultimately make you into a better individual because of the caring professors and friendly atmosphere.”

Make a gift online to Students First! The Campaign for Manchester >