"He is simply a fine human being and a great humanitarian."
The late Gov. Frank O’Bannon wrote those words, in remarking that the State of
Indiana was blessed in having President A. Blair Helman as one of its own.
Many of the hundreds gathering last March to reflect on the life of the College’s
ninth president easily slipped into familiar verbiage about a man of great ability
and conviction. Of a man whose life and the mission of the College were
intertwined. Dr. A. Blair Helman, pivotal president of Manchester College for 30
years, died March 22 at Timbercrest Retirement Community at the age of 88.
While this College he held so dear continues to undergo great transformation as it
did from the day he became president at the young age of 35, he would expect such
energy. He, after all, lit the flame.
“President Helman’s leadership reflected his keen intellect, deep faith, and enduring
love for Manchester College,” said President Jo Young Switzer.
“The entire Manchester College community continues to walk in his footsteps: his
commitments to faith, learning, and service; a broad world view; financial
integrity; and educational strength.”
President Helman would expect that.
“The great days at Manchester College are not in the
past or the present; but, the great days of Manchester
College are in the future,” he declared upon his
retirement in 1986.
And so it shall be, say equally committed members of
the Manchester College community of the 21st
Study abroad programs set in motion during the
Helman years continue to lead generations of
Manchester College students down new paths of
global understanding. For example, one of the winners
of the 2009 Student Research Symposium spent her
junior year studying abroad in Strasbourg, France.
International students continue to find their place in
growing numbers on this northern Indiana campus –
this year they total 42 – taking leadership among their
Hoosier classmates, expanding the global
consciousness of all within the MC community and
African-American students are finding Manchester a
comfortable fit in record numbers, their place here
nurtured years ago by President Helman. Just a year
or so ago, the College celebrated the 40th
anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s convocation
on campus, and a college president’s bravery in
extending the invitation.
In retirement, Dr. Helman remained close to the
College, present at performances and celebrations –
many within the Cordier Auditorium he dedicated in
celebration of the College’s NGO status within the
United Nations and of MC graduate, Andrew
Cordier ’22, who helped draft the Charter of the
Acknowledged as a national and state leader in higher
education and in the Church of the Brethren,
President Helman was at the birth of what today is the
31-member Independent Colleges of Indiana.
Manchester continues to take a leadership role in that
organization that finds strength in its unity.
“Manchester College will always feel his influence,”
Just as President Helman brought new programs and
structures for study and wellness, the tradition
continues today. A Science Center, Recital Hall, Fitness
Center and College Union have opened for this
generation of MC students with the same fiscal
responsibility embraced by that former president.
Now, the College is planning for future generations,
future teaching techniques, future courses, future
PRESIDENTIAL LEADERSHIP AWARDS
at Manchester College were established
with a $1 million endowment donation in
the Helman’s honor by Howard S. and
the late Myra Bates ’32x Brembeck of
Goshen. The scholarships go to students
who demonstrate the promise of making
outstanding contributions to the nation
and the world.
Memorials may be made to The A. Blair
and Patricia K. Helman Honor
Presidential Leadership Awards in care of
the Manchester College Office of College
Advancement, 604 E. College Ave., North
Manchester, Ind., 46962. Also, to The
A. Blair and Patricia Kennedy Helman
To give online, click here.