Stories behind the plaques speak of gratitude

Every person is a story, often more than one. Gifts to Manchester University have stories, too, including some poignant tributes from donors who contributed to Manchester’s new Spartan Stadium.

Coach Cornell 

When Manchester offered donors a chance to dedicate a row of bleachers in the new Spartan Stadium with a plaque, David Allbritten ’87 knew he wanted to dedicate his plaque to Bob Cornell ’68, who coached Manchester football from the 1982 through 1989 seasons.

“Coach Cornell was my position coach and soon defined himself as the quiet leader,” says Allbritten, an offensive lineman who now lives in Warsaw, Ind. “He is a man of the highest character and integrity and he demanded the same of those he led.”

Allbritten compares the relationship to Proverbs 27:17 (NIV): “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

“I worked to make him proud on the field, and there were times I would let him down by my off-field behavior,” recalls Allbritten. “It was on those occasions when Coach would sharpen me as a man. We had several one-one-one meetings in his office and I soon came to realize this was more than football and he was more than a coach. He continues to be an integral part of my success in faith and as a husband and father. Coach Cornell is not the guy you recognize when you walk into a room at a large gathering. Nope. He is the guy you give the standing ovation to after you look back and thank him for being a part of your journey for sharpening you to be a man of God.”

Andrew Cornell’s plaque is a tribute to the same man, who also is his father, and a nod to the deep affection his entire family has for Manchester.“We were all a part of it,” says Andrew, one of six Cornell children and an All-State quarterback at Manchester High School while his dad coached at the college. “I played my high school football games at that field (adjacent to the new stadium). And so did my two older brothers.”


Andrew, a Butler graduate who is now a senior vice president for UBS Financial Services Inc., in Indianapolis, says his whole family was involved with Spartan football. “We were on the sidelines, all three of us, as ball boys for the college games,” says Andrew. “It felt like were part of the team.”

Andrew’s sisters, Angela Cornell ’90 Moon and Julianne Cornell ’95 Topp, who was a Spartan cheerleader, attended Manchester. “My mom was a big part of it, too,” Andrew said. “We were always around there supporting the team and players. It was just a great period of time – probably as much fun as I can recall in my life.”


Dan Walker ’85 contributed to two plaques for the new stadium, one expressing his gratitude for Manchester, the other honoring the memory of a close friend and teammate.

“I knew on my first visit that Manchester was special – the moment my feet hit the ground,” says Walker, who earned a degree in economics and lives in Indianapolis. On that first day, he met professors, coaches and students. It felt like “the perfect school” for him. “My gratitude is for the people who became my family, my home and community for the next four-plus years. I was introduced to campus life and a wonderful liberal arts curriculum that paved the way for my adulthood. Like many others, I met my best friends at Manchester.”

One of those friends, Rich Rowlands, was a Spartan football teammate. A 1985 accounting graduate, he died in 1988 at the age of 25. “Rich was an extremely kind person who always had time to have a conversation,” says Walker. He was lighthearted and, because of his character, made many friends, and made them easily.

His teammates nicknamed Rowlands “Tiny” because he was 6’3” and had a large frame, even for an offensive tackle. Walker and several teammates have memorialized “Tiny” Rowlands with a row of bleachers and a plaque in Spartan Stadium, a gift to the place that brought them together years ago. Adds Walker, “I miss you, Tiny.”

What is your story?

Even though Spartan Stadium is complete and Manchester students are benefitting from the generosity of stadium donors, it is not too late to make a gift and provide a plaque. For more information, please contact Shannon Griffith, director of development, at