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  • Who could have imagined …

    by Melinda Lantz | Sep 21, 2020

    Posted Sept. 21 - Once again, Manchester graduates find themselves on the frontlines. Stephanie Wheeler and Nicole Heiberger, recent graduates of our pharmacogenomics program, work for a company called GeneMarkers, our partner for COVID-19 testing.

    Once a week, we administer tests on campus and volunteers drive them to Kalamazoo, where the GeneMarkers labs are located. Recently, Renee and I made the five-hour round-trip drive. We wanted to do our part and to see where and how the tests are processed. The company is in a non-descript building beside a parking garage and its labs look a lot like the science labs on our campuses.

    The best part of our visit was talking with Stephanie, GeneMarkers’ lab manager, about her work. She told us the company was set up to do genetics-related research and development – work she was hired to help with two years ago – and only began doing diagnostic testing when the pandemic hit. Originally, they planned to do 1,000 coronavirus tests a week and find themselves; instead, running about that many tests a day. They’ve tripled the number of people who work there and are running two shifts.

    At the end of our visit, we stood with Stephanie and asked, “Who could have imagined that you would find yourself doing this work during the middle of a pandemic?” She, Nicole and their colleagues are helping dozens of organizations manage through these challenging times. As we say often, the world needs more Manchester graduates.

  • One Manchester more than ever

    by Melinda Lantz | Aug 17, 2020

    Posted Aug. 17 - As students and colleagues return to Manchester, masks are mandatory. The state requires us to wear them, but we made that decision before it was mandated. Why?

    The science is sound that masks, along with social distancing, are two of our most powerful weapons against COVID-19. They are simple, painless ways to slow transmission of the coronavirus.

    They are also profound statements about our investment in One Manchester, in shared responsibility for our individual and collective health. More than protecting individuals, they protect communities like ours.

    Wearing a mask and social distancing are clear statements we can make individually and together to say that we believe in One Manchester. #MaskforOneManchester

     

  • Outstanding in the cornfields

    by Melinda Lantz | May 13, 2020

    Posted May 13 - When I first arrived at Manchester, I said, half seriously, that our tagline should be “Manchester: Outstanding in the Cornfields.” When I shared the idea, it was always good for a laugh, or at least a chuckle. The less-than-hearty laugh response let me know that it was funny, but cut too close to a truth that some found uncomfortable or off-putting.

    Now, after 25 years, it may be time to print the T-shirts and roll out the billboards. Some families and undergraduate students, perhaps many, will find an exceptional small college in a welcoming rural town appealing. Certainly perceived safety in a time of pandemic is an issue, but so are the close attention and personal support that they find at Manchester. It’s not enough just to feel safe. Feeling seen, heard and cared for matter enormously.

    Our mission statement starts by affirming the infinite worth of every person. For students that means they are seen, heard and cared for – individually.

    We’ve always been outstanding in the cornfields, and today we proclaim it with pride.

     

  • Words of wisdom

    by Melinda Lantz | Apr 01, 2020

    Posted April 1 - I spoke with my father this week about what is happening at Manchester and in the world during this coronavirus outbreak. He’s a retired physician, 88 years old and lives at Timbercrest, a local retirement community. We talked some about the challenges Manchester is facing – moving teaching online, asking students to stay away from campus as much as possible – and after listening patiently, he reminded me to keep my eye on the big picture.

    “David,” he said, “remember what you always say to others – that the world needs more Manchester graduates.” The world needs more Manchester graduates. “Especially at a time like this, the world needs people with the skills and values that come with a Manchester education,” he said.

    Our mission statement reminds us that, at the end of the day, our reason for being here is to prepare graduates who improve the human condition. Thanks, Dad, for the words of wisdom.

     

     

  • The new SAT: a banana

    by Melinda Lantz | Jan 20, 2020

    Posted Jan. 20 - While traveling recently, I found myself across from a large family sharing breakfast together. They had the usual in front of them: pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, melon, orange juice … and cell phones. Seven people, five cell phones. A couple of them were into their own things on their phones, but the others were sharing pictures, videos and stories.

    At one corner of the table was a young woman, perhaps 6 or 7 years old, who I was ready to admit to Manchester on the spot because she was entertaining herself with a banana. One minute it was a telephone (the old-fashioned kind that connects ear and mouth), then a swing, then Geordi La Forge’s Star Trek visor, then a hand-held vacuum cleaner.

    As she played there at the table, I recognized in her the sort of student we want at Manchester. And I recognized the future of the SAT: a banana. 

     

     

     

  • Office in the heart of campus

    by Melinda Lantz | Oct 29, 2019

    Posted Oct. 29 - Late this summer, my office moved from the Administration Building to Funderburg Library. I suspect that the President’s Office had been in the same location for many, many years and the move felt sacrilegious to some. I, though, love our new digs.

    It feels like we are in the heart of campus. Through my office window I can see and hear students going to and from classes in both the Academic Center and Science Center. I see them go by on skateboards and bicycles. When I walk out the front door, I find students and community members playing Ultimate Frisbee or the Student Activities Council setting up for some weekend event on the mall.

    My favorite thing, though, is connecting with students in the library. After we moved faculty offices and classrooms to the Academic Center half a decade ago, we stopped seeing students in the Ad Building on a regular basis. I see them every day in the library. Yes, our students use the library!

    Some, I think, live here. They seem to be here when I arrive and here when I leave. Because you can bring food and drink into the library now – again, yes! – they can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner while they study. Many sit in the same chair, at the same computer terminal or at the same table every day. They study in small groups surrounded by movable white boards and I can tell when one is helping another with a challenging topic. We have a lively, living library at Manchester.

    One student told me it is his favorite place on campus. It is fast becoming mine, too.

     

  • Rent and extras

    by Melinda Lantz | Jul 16, 2019

    Posted July 16 - Manchester alumni who graduated several decades ago often tell me that they worked their way through school. That is, they earned enough from working to pay for college. It was a different time when tuition was $160 per semester, but it wasn’t easy to cover costs. One graduate told me that spending 10 cents for a cup of coffee in the Oaks was an extravagance. 

    Recently I talked with a Manchester student working as a cashier at the grocery store in North Manchester. As she scanned my purchases, she told me she’s holding down two jobs this summer. One, as a research intern in the Biology Department, “is for rent,” she said. Her New Market job “is for extras.” That includes books, gas money and all the other costs associated with being a college student.

    Across generations of Manchester students, sweat equity – investing the fruits of our own work in our education – has been a given. I’m proud of that Spartan work ethic. It’s one of many reasons our graduates find success and make significant contributions in their communities after graduation.

     

  • A keepsake

    by Melinda Lantz | Jun 20, 2019

    Posted June 20 - I’m a collector of autographed baseballs. It’s an eclectic collection. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, most of the Dodgers 18 Rookies of the Year. A ball signed by Corey Seager (2016 NL ROY) and his parents. Not all the signatures are baseball players. I have a ball signed by Jim Nabors who sang “Back Home Again In Indiana” at the Indy 500 for many years and helped me feel connected to home during the decade we lived in Southern California.

    Some are distinctively Manchester. I have a ball signed by Trevor Kimm ’15 after he hit two home runs in a spring game in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Another is signed by Gene Likens ’57 who came to Manchester from the tiny town of Sidney to play baseball and went on to discover the existence of acid rain in North America.

    My most recent acquisition is a team ball – a baseball signed by all the members of a particular team. In this case, the team is Manchester’s 2018-19 A Cappella Choir. Their spring tour took them through Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, including a stop at the Field of Dreams near Dyersville, Iowa. While there, they bought and signed a baseball, which director Debra Lynn presented to me this month.

    Like any good team ball, some of the signatures are crisp: Nolan McBride, Erin Clanton, Amira Siddiqui. Others, well, not so much. And like the other keepsake autographed baseballs that I have, it has found a place of honor on a shelf in my office. Thank you, Debra and members of the A Cappella choir!

     

  • It’s good to have experts agree with us

    by Melinda Lantz | May 24, 2019

    Posted May 24 - We’ve known for years that we have exceptional programs in accounting, finance and marketing. This spring, College Factual released its 2019 “Best Value for the Money” rankings and named Manchester’s accounting, finance and marketing programs No. 1 in Indiana and among the top 10 percent in the nation. It was the second year in a row for our accounting program.

    Sometimes it takes an objective, independent voice to convince others of something we all know to be true. That’s certainly the case here.

    Congratulations to our Gilbert College of Business faculty and graduates for this recognition!

    You can find the story here.

     

     

  • There is no future that looks like the past

    by Melinda Lantz | Apr 08, 2019

    Posted April 8 - We live in a “both/and” world. We have opportunities and face challenges. We uncover possibilities and respond to problems. We anticipate and cope with rapid change. Both/and. Promise and peril.

    This is certainly true for Manchester in a time of rapid change in higher education. Some describe it as white water and most believe that it will be the new reality for us. Perpetual white water.

    For Manchester, the both/and is to find new expressions of our unchanging mission. Stay true to who we are while finding new ways to express our foundational values. While the words used to articulate our mission have changed over the years, it is, at its core, to graduate persons equipped to live transformative lives and improve the human condition.

    Manchester has always found ways to breathe life into our mission with new programs. Peace Studies after World War II, Environmental Studies in 1971 on the heels of the first Earth Day and, just a few years ago, pharmacogenomics on the forefront of precision medicine are a few examples. We’ve also stopped doing some things over the years. We no longer teach home economics and bookkeeping, for example, and while we teach German, we no longer offer a German major.

    There is no future that looks like the past. But we wouldn’t want to stay fixed in one place even if we could. If we had locked in 20 years ago, we would still be treating our LGBTQ students and colleagues as second-class members of our campus community (I was here when Manchester students held their first Gay Prom and when we began offering benefits to same sex partners).

     If we had locked in 50 years ago, we would still be encouraging our female students to enroll in a limited set of “appropriate” majors like education, bookkeeping and home economics. And, despite our progress on these issues, we still have work to do. We can’t afford to stand pat. We continue to lead, to change, to adapt.

    The future for Manchester is both/and. Both exciting and anxiety-producing. Both opportunity-filled and perilous. And we are up to the challenges – we always have been.

  • ‘So we added pie’

    by Melinda Lantz | Mar 29, 2019

    Posted March 29 - One of the joys of serving my alma mater as president is that I already know so many of our alumni, faculty, staff and friends. Some were my classmates at Manchester and some my teachers and mentors. Having grown up in North Manchester, I knew many from church and the community as well. It is a joy.

    On some days, though, when we lose friends and colleagues, those tight connections compound grief. Just this week, I received news that Lisa Harshbarger passed away. She was a high school classmate and the daughter of Richard and Jane Harshbarger. Dick taught economics here for many years and was my academic advisor at Manchester. Hers was a loss close to home. Also this week, Cathy Mishler Gillam passed away. She was a college classmate and sang in the A Capella Choir with Renée. She was also the sister of Rick Mishler, a current trustee who has become a friend during his service on the board. Both battled illness and died far too young.

    I was reminded during Cathy’s memorial service that the connections that compound grief also help us carry it. Chris Gillam, Cathy’s husband and also a graduate, spoke of the community that surrounded his family during her illness. “We can’t repay the kindness you’ve shown us,” he said. “I know that the ham sandwiches we’ll be serving after the service won’t be enough.” He paused. “So we’ve added pie.” It brought a church full of tears to laughter.

    Pie is what we gain from community, from family. The Manchester family extends far beyond northeast Indiana. When any one of us loses someone, when we individually or collectively are struggling, when we long together for a more just and peaceful world, we are community. We hold one another close and we bring pie.

  • Standing on the shoulders

    by Melinda Lantz | Feb 25, 2019

    Posted Feb. 25 - A. Blair Helman served as Manchester’s president for 30 years, retiring in 1986. In one of his last reports to the Board of Trustees, dated April 1985, he reflected on the challenges facing Manchester and the commitments needed to strengthen the College.

    The challenges he listed are the same as those we face today: “A continuing financial crunch, a rural location, an uncertain market for our historic curriculum, a need to invest heavily in plant and to build endowment, problems with growing involvement with government and a declining student population.”

    In responding to these challenges, Helman said, “We will need to be creative and resourceful in finding more effective and efficient ways to do our work.”

    Helman ended his report by affirming the work of those who came before and the deep love of Manchester exhibited by those who served the College with him.

    “We will need to dedicate our abilities and energies to the perpetuation of the institution which we love and serve into the future. To do less than our best would be a betrayal of the vision and the commitment of those who have built a truly great college.”

    We are nearing the end of a long and exhausting review of our work – the Institutional Vitality and Sustainability Initiative – aimed at fulfilling President Helman’s call. Generations before us have done this same hard work and I am grateful to my colleagues for their contributions to what we all believe will be a long and vibrant future for the institution we love and serve together.

     

  • It’s OK to be uncomfortable talking about race

    by Melinda Lantz | Feb 01, 2019

    Posted Feb. 1 - David Pilgrim graced the Cordier Auditorium stage on Jan. 31 for our annual MLK Remembrance and Rededication Ceremony. Founder of the Jim Crow Museum and professor of sociology at Ferris State University, Pilgrim spoke about “Difficult Conversations About Race” and shared some lessons from his many years of engaging with others on issues of racism and other “-isms.” Among the lessons he shared were these:

    • Places where people feel comfortable sharing will allow them to talk – and some of what they say may be disappointing.
    • Conversations about race can be safe but uncomfortable, and that is OK.
    • Not changing someone’s mind is OK.
    • It’s OK to push back when you disagree, but don’t crush people.


    Pilgrim also reminded us that we won’t finish this work– addressing racism – in our lifetimes, but we can make progress and we can get better at it. And he told those of us with privilege to own it and use it to empower others.

    I’m grateful that David chose to drive to campus on a day that travel was hazardous because of subzero temperatures. His insights, experience, humor and lessons lifted those who heard him.

  • The power of cookies and a personal thank you

    by Melinda Lantz | Dec 14, 2018

    Posted Dec. 14 - A friend stopped by today to give me some cookies. When offering them, she said, “These had your name on them.” A small gesture, perhaps, but one rich with import (as well as butter). I’d had a long week and that box of cookies said, “I’ve been thinking about you” and “I’d like to brighten your day.” It was an unexpected and powerful gift.

    As we immerse ourselves in the holidays, know that Manchester is blessed to be a community of wonderful colleagues. Thank you for the positive difference you make in the lives of those with whom you work.

     

     

  • Serving our community – a Manchester tradition

    by Melinda Lantz | Nov 26, 2018

    Volunteering is a tradition at Manchester that we’ve celebrated for decades. This year, Ali Goetcheus, director of our Center for Service Opportunities, has been recognizing Volunteers of the Month – students and employees – from nominations submitted by faculty and staff.

    When Ali sent her email asking for nominees for November’s Volunteers of the Month, she included a list of volunteer projects for the month. It was impressive: Blessings in a Backpack, Flannels and Flapjacks, Community Dinner, Blood Drive, Habitat Raking Leaves, The Great Move, Warm Up America, Food Pantry, Book Bash, Friendsgiving Cooking, Rotary Club Veteran Breakfast, Rotary World Affairs Conference, Giving Tuesday, Fellowship of Churches Move, and a variety of First-Year Experience service projects.

    Among the most impressive things about this list is that our students and employees have been helping with some of these projects for many, many years. And our high level of participation is a tradition as well.

    In this season of giving and thanksgiving, we are grateful for the ways our students and colleagues are connecting with our community. We are glad to have good neighbors and be good neighbors.

     

  • Like clockwork

    by Melinda Lantz | Nov 06, 2018

    Posted Nov. 6 - Like clockwork, America votes in November. Like clockwork, voters in North Manchester flock to the Rotary Pancake Breakfast on Election Day. And, like clockwork, Chemistry Professor Susan Klein shows up at the pancake breakfast with students in tow.

    The Rotarians know to expect Susan and her entourage and greet her warmly. On Nov. 6, she paid for eight students to enjoy pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausage. This year they included her lab assistants, senior chemistry majors and assorted others. In the past, she’s brought international students with her. It’s a civics lesson, she says. Even if the students she treats to breakfast can’t vote in North Manchester, it’s an opportunity to talk about why elections matter.

    It’s also about building community: among students, between a beloved faculty member and her students and with North Manchester residents. A good lesson in civics, indeed.

     

  • 'Manchester people'

    by Melinda Lantz | Sep 17, 2018

    I had coffee recently with a Manchester senior. She asked for the meeting so that she could share her story with me, and I’m grateful that she did.

    Her story, in brief, came in three parts.

    First, she told me, she found her place at Manchester. It happened through formal connections – her faculty advisor, her residence hall assistant – and also informally. A classmate became a good friend and her go-to person when she hit bumps in the road. “I found ‘my people’ here,” she told me.

    Second, she had a life-changing experience when she traveled to Atlanta with a group of education majors. She had planned to teach, but found herself drawn to policy and advocacy work after being immersed with students who had no voice and few advocates. “I completely re-envisioned my career.”

    Third, her father was struggling with stage-four cancer, diagnosed during her time at Manchester. Our conversation was on a Monday and later that week she was taking her father to the doctor and to chemo. “I want to be there for him.”

    I was reminded as we talked that our students live complex and sometimes challenging lives, making our work with them complex and challenging. Their stories and experiences here make for a rich learning environment for them and for us. I am grateful for our students, faculty, staff and friends – for “our people,” for “Manchester people.”

     

  • Getting it right

    by Melinda Lantz | Aug 03, 2018

    Posted Aug. 3 - Succeeding in higher education today is a challenge. Many institutions face daunting financial challenges and a growing number close every year. It’s not uncommon for an institution to face the need to make significant changes in the midst of crisis.

    We are anticipating changes, perhaps significant changes, at Manchester as well. The difference is that we have the opportunity to weigh those changes strategically and pursue them intentionally. We are using a process we call the Institutional Vitality and Sustainability Initiative (IVSI). Two task forces and a steering committee made up of faculty and staff are reviewing all of our undergraduate programs – academic and co-curricular – and all of our administrative practices.

    Our goal is to align what we do with the needs and interests of our prospective and current students and to meet the expectations of a rapidly changing marketplace of employers and graduate and professional schools. As the Wise Stewards Guide puts it, we are aiming for “mission fulfillment with economic vitality.”

    We owe it to our students, supporters and future generations to get it right.

  • Church of the Brethren, born and bred

    by Melinda Lantz | Jul 05, 2018

    Posted July 5 - When I came to Manchester 25 years ago, one of the things I negotiated was the opportunity to represent Manchester at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference each year. I was born into the Church of the Brethren, multiple generations back on both sides of my family, which explains in part my desire to be part of the great annual gathering of the denomination.

    This year, Annual Conference is in Cincinnati. Attendees will see Manchester faculty, staff, alumni and students in key roles throughout the week. A highlight will be our alumni luncheon on Saturday where several of us will reflect on the ways in which deep and meaningful relationships develop at Manchester.

    Manchester University is also Church of the Brethren, born and bred. Signs of our Brethren roots are everywhere. Although we don’t explicitly name all of them, they are evident to those who know the Brethren. Peace studies grew out of the Brethren commitment to justice and non-violence, environmental studies out of our emphasis on stewardship of the earth, and many other-focused programs and activities out of our commitment to service.

    Our focus at Annual Conference – the importance of and investment in relationships at Manchester – is also an outgrowth of our Church of the Brethren roots. If you’ve ever been to a Brethren church potluck, you know that we enjoy one another’s company (and cooking!) and care deeply about community.

    The world needs more Manchester graduates, in part because, knowingly or not, they’ve all encountered the best of the Church of the Brethren at Manchester.

  • One family

    by Melinda Lantz | Jun 07, 2018

    Posted June 7 - Alumni Days at Manchester bring graduates home to campus for their 50th, 55th, 60th and more reunions. It is wonderful to hear their stories and share about what has and has not changed since their years as students.

    One of the highlights is the memorial service we hold to remember, by name, family, friends and graduates who passed away during the previous year. It is a moving service, both solemn and celebratory, that reminds us of the contributions and rich lives of our extended family members.

    On my way back to the office after the service, I stopped on the sidewalk to talk with a mother and daughter – Nell and Jennie Voelker, both graduates – who had come to campus for the service. David Voelker ’67, husband and father, respectively, had passed away unexpectedly a few months ago and was being remembered. A sad circumstance had brought them back, but both were smiling as they recounted their time at Manchester. David and Nell met while in line to register for classes and both Nell and Jennie had served as residence hall assistants during their Manchester years. They were deeply appreciative of experiences and glad to be back on campus.

    Alumni who return to campus comment on the many things, mostly physical, that have changed over the years. They are glad to hear and deeply appreciate that the soul of Manchester – our mission and the ways in which we touch and transform lives – has not changed. Just as was true for the classes of 1968 and earlier, our students find caring faculty and staff, friendships that last a lifetime and exceptional preparation for lives and careers that improve communities and the world.

    We are grateful to connect generations of students – our extended Manchester family – in serving the world.