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Students First! News and Updates

October 2013 Keith Pontius ’55 hopes his gift for the Academic Center will help to transform lives in the same way Manchester transformed his.Student Orientation Leader (SOL) Jake Burns ’16 tells Manchester stories to an attentive group of first-year students during Welcome Week 2013.

In this issue:



Let’s all say “Yes!” to Manchester
students and fulfilling our mission

By Sandy Cleveland ’74 Haist and Dave Haist ’73
Campaign co-chairs

Students First!
is more than a campaign slogan. At Manchester University, putting students first is a way of life. Or as President Switzer says, “Putting students first is what we do. It is who we are.”

As Manchester graduates, we both understand the importance of supporting Manchester students. We know the importance of encouraging faculty development because we benefitted enormously from the personal attention and mentoring we received. We understand the importance of comfortable, up-to-date learning spaces. And we understand how vital it is to provide our students with financial aid that helps keep a college education affordable – whether that aid is through The Manchester Fund or endowed scholarships.

We know that you understand the importance of this campaign, too.

To date, our alumni and friends have given or pledged $88,601,606 toward the campaign goal of $100 million. We’ve made great progress, but we’re not there yet. Now we’re asking you to help carry Manchester across the finish line.

If you are a Manchester alum, there were people who paved the way for you. They helped construct buildings. They built the endowment. They created scholarship funds. And they gave faithfully to The Manchester Fund. Now it’s our turn to pave the way for future generations of Manchester students just as others once did for us.

We’d like to extend a special “thank you” to President Switzer and Melanie Harmon. President Switzer has provided sound leadership for Students First! and has made innumerable visits to potential donors explaining why the campaign is so important. Melanie Harmon, serving as interim vice president, has kept the Advancement Office team focused on the goal.

Manchester has been graduating “persons of ability and conviction” for more than a century. Students First! is a way for alumni and friends to say “Yes!” to many more years of a mission fulfilled.

The world needs Manchester University graduates. And Manchester University needs you. Thank you for your generous support. Let’s continue to put students first!

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




Retired chemist and MU alum flies missions of mercy for people in need

Don Imhoff worked hard for many years. Few, if any, would begrudge him some leisure. So it’s all the more admirable that this 1961 Manchester graduate spends much of his retirement sharing his time, resources and compassion with people in need.

Shortly after retiring from Albemarle Corp. in Baton Rouge, La., in 2009, Imhoff volunteered for Pilots for Patients, an organization that transports people in need of medical diagnosis and treatment to health care facilities not available where they live. In three years, the private pilot has flown his restored 1974 Cessna Cardinal RG on more than 150 “missions” for people suffering serious health conditions – all at his own expense. “I like being able to help others,” says Imhoff, who retired as an analytical chemist after 43 years at Albemarle. “Flying gets in your blood,” he says of his longtime hobby, and he figures if he’s going to fly anyway, he might as well do some good.

Imhoff has done some good for his alma mater, too. Each year, he leverages his gift to The Manchester Fund with a matching gift from Albemarle. Imhoff also provided a student lounge in the Science Center where his plaque honors chemistry professors Harry Weimer, Carl Holl and Ed Miller for their “enthusiastic teaching.”

“Manchester was good to me,” reflects Imhoff, who, at Weimer’s urging, went on to earn his Ph.D. at Ohio State. The northeast Ohio native was the first in his family to go to college, and he remembers the people who encouraged him. “It’s important to give back,” says Imhoff, “so that others can benefit from Manchester like I did.”

Giving back. It’s a big part of Don Imhoff. Whether he’s helping Manchester students or medical patients in need, he likes “making the world a better place.”

Join Don Imhoff ’61 in supporting Students First! at




Hillary Armstrong (middle row, center) is pictured with some of last year’s Students Today Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) members: (front) Kevin Powers, (middle row from left) Megan Spice, Yousra Kamoona, Hillary, Morgan Hill and Simon Kateregga, and (back from left) Rodney Tigaa, Eric Wilker and Kristen Tentler.

For Hillary Armstrong ’14, leaving home and family to start college “was incredibly difficult.” Now, with graduation on the horizon, the Wheatfield, Ind., native says she can’t imagine being anywhere but Manchester. “I love everything about it.”

As a first-year student, Hillary didn’t know what she wanted to study until an introductory accounting course became a revelation. “Hey, I like this,” she realized. Even better, “I’m pretty good at it.” And another Manchester accountant was born.

Though she considered other schools, Hillary’s choice to attend Manchester “came down to finances.” To trim costs further, she’s taking a heavy academic load to complete a dual degree in accounting and management in four years – the 150-hour accounting program typically takes longer. This time next year she hopes to be a public accountant in Fort Wayne and, eventually, manage a firm.

For now, she’s savoring her senior year. “I’ve had so many opportunities here that I would not have had somewhere else.” Hillary is treasurer of the Accounting and Business Club and president of Students Today Alumni Tomorrow. Her campus job in the Advancement Office connects her to alumni who offer career advice and share great memories. Alumni, faculty, staff, fellow students – “the people make the difference at Manchester,” says Hillary. “I feel so at home here.”

Next May, Hillary will be the first in her family to graduate from college. Her mom, a homemaker, didn’t finish college and regrets it. Her dad works long hours – sometimes seven days a week – for a construction company. Both parents want for their daughter what they didn’t have, says Hillary. They could not be prouder.

“I’m just so glad I chose Manchester,” says Hillary. For anyone considering a gift to Students First!, “Give,” she urges, “so that other people can have the opportunities I’ve had.”

Read more stories about MU students like Hillary >




MU senior has a passion for teaching

When Brandon Curry ’14 was asked to speak at an awards banquet last spring, he felt honored. When he was named Manchester’s Outstanding Student Leader of the Year at the banquet, he was “shocked.”

Such humility is why the senior education major received the award, and why faculty, staff and fellow students admire him. Brandon is a quiet campus leader with a wealth of poise and the work ethic to get things done.

Small classes and a “warm, open community” drew the South Whitley, Ind., native to Manchester. Scholarships sealed the deal. “I will graduate with no debt,” says Brandon, whose widowed mom is a nurse at Parkview Whitley Hospital. “If it weren’t for the generosity of alumni and other donors,” adds Brandon, “I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

This spring, Brandon will do his student teaching in social studies at Fort Wayne’s Shawnee Middle School. The history buff discovered his calling in an education course he took early on at MU. “I found that teaching was what I was really passionate about.”

Manchester offered Brandon opportunities he wouldn’t have had at a large university. He’s been the promotions director for MU’s radio station, WBKE. He’s been vice president of the Student Education Association and coordinator of Partners in Learning, a student tutoring program in the local schools. Brandon’s also the historian for Students Today Alumni Tomorrow. And the classically trained pianist participates in campus chapel services and other religious life activities.

Through the years, he’s played piano for nursing home and hospital patients, and been a counselor for church-related summer camps. “I’ve always enjoyed working with younger people,” says Brandon. “I want to help kids believe in themselves,” he says. “Hopefully, I can be a small inspiration.”

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