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  • 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.


  • ‘I can’t wait’

    by Melinda Lantz | May 22, 2018

    Posted May 22 - Commencement is a milestone for our students, a time to reflect on the past and to anticipate the future. One of our newly minted graduates sent me a note that captures that liminal moment and I share a portion of it with you:

    I can’t believe my time at MU is coming to a close. From the first time I heard you speak about becoming my best self, I firmly believe MU has laid the foundation in challenging me to become my best self. From expanding my writing skills through blogging for marketing to learning how to network and interact with alumni through STAT, the opportunities I have gained here are irreplaceable.

    Coming to college I was a very closed-minded, type A, black and white type person. The connections I made and diversity I came across allowed me to grow immensely as a person. MU has opened my mind and taught me that, in life, there is a lot of gray. By showing me that diversity is not only welcomed but encouraged and opposition is met with communication and trying to understand, I was able to grow. …

    The staff, faculty and students that have surrounded and supported me the last four years are the reason I stayed. As you always say, ‘the world needs more Manchester graduates.’ I can’t wait to be one of those graduates, able to get out there and use the tools, skills and knowledge I learned here to make a difference.

  • Custodial staff makes a difference, deserves our gratitude

    by Melinda Lantz | Apr 20, 2018

    Posted April 20 - I had an opportunity to spend two hours this past Monday morning helping Amy Hendrix, Tanya Hartsock and Wendy Isbell clean Schwalm Hall. They also clean the Academic Center for us. They rearranged their Monday cleaning schedule to start in Schwalm so that I could be with them at the start of the day – 6 to 8 a.m. (early for me, routine for them).

    I’d heard horror stories about the condition of Schwalm on some Monday mornings and wanted to see them firsthand, but they told me that what we found that morning was pretty routine. They were both relieved not to find major messes and disappointed that I didn’t experience some of what they find when things are bad.

    What I did experience that morning was a crew of colleagues who work seamlessly together, who thoroughly enjoy one another’s company, who know that what they do makes a difference in student lives and who enjoy – for the most part – the work they do every day.

    Here is the core of what I learned: Like all of us, they deeply appreciate simple behaviors that make their work easier – trash put in a trash can and messes cleaned up by the person(s) who made them, for example. They also appreciate hearing “thank you” and knowing that their work is valued.

    My two hours were mostly spent scrubbing sinks and taking out trash. They graciously allowed me to help them (if you can call what I did help) and didn’t complain when I slowed them down. I’m grateful for both and grateful for all that they and their custodial staff colleagues do for Manchester students, faculty and staff.

     

     

  • Finding a mentor

    by Melinda Lantz | Mar 12, 2018

    Posted March 12 - When meeting with alumni, Renee and I love to ask and hear about the people who meant the most to them while at Manchester. For older alumni, the names include well-known faculty at Manchester: Paul Keller, David Waas, Emerson Niswander, Gladdys Muir and others. Sometimes graduates name staff who were formative: dean of students and coach Paul “Jake” Hoffman, coach Claude Wolfe and custodian Dave Friermood come to mind.

    Noah Shively, the head of Manchester’s grounds crew, shaped my experience at Manchester. He taught me how to drive a stick shift (the College’s old dump truck) and woke me at 4 a.m. on stormy winter days to help shovel snow off the sidewalks. He was a quiet man and taught me about dignity, character and patience.

    Manchester abounds with mentors today. Faculty play pivotal roles in the classroom, but also as academic advisors, research collaborators, choral and instrumental group directors, and vocational sounding boards. Our students also connect with club sponsors, coaches, custodial and physical plant staff, Success Center coaches and others.

    This connecting – at a deeply personal level – reflects our missional commitment to respect the infinite worth of every individual and the individual commitment of each person who serves here to help our students succeed.



  • Kenny Doss inspires others

    by Melinda Lantz | Jan 28, 2018

    Posted Jan. 28 - I first met Kenny Doss walking across campus during the first week of classes two years ago. He and I were heading in the same direction, Kenny to find Professor Joe Messer in the Academic Center and me to find a cup of coffee at Sister’s.

    “I came for basketball,” Kenny told me, “but I’m going to stay because of Messer.” Kenny had experienced an immediate sense of kinship with Joe when they first met and he was eager to reconnect.

    Kenny’s story has garnered lots of attention and press, most recently in this NCAA story. He comes from a challenging neighborhood in Chicago and is committed to doing everything he can to lift up the kids growing up there. Basketball has been Kenny’s passion for years, but he doesn’t see the way up coming from get-rich glory in the NBA. Rather, he sees basketball as a bridge across the divides that literally separate kids on one block from those on another.

    Kenny once explained to me that individual city blocks define communities and safe spaces for many of the kids in his neighborhood. His idea, come to life several years ago, was to create a summer basketball league that helped young people to connect with one another where rivalry was friendly and safe and competitors could become friends.

    Manchester’s mission is to graduate persons of ability and conviction. Some of our students, like Kenny, arrive well on their way and serve as role models for their classmates. They also serve as inspirations for those, like me, who came before.

  • Celebrating Manchester’s first peace studies graduate

    by Melinda Lantz | Dec 12, 2017

    Posted Dec. 12 - W. Robert “Bob” McFadden, the first graduating major from Manchester’s Peace Studies Program, passed away on Friday, Dec. 8. After graduating from Manchester in 1951, McFadden earned degrees from Bethany Theological Seminary and Boston College and taught at both Juniata and Bridgewater colleges, the latter for 37 years from 1961 to 1998. In 2014, he was honored by the Peace Studies Program with a plaque and Japanese maple in the Peace Garden.

    McFadden was a thoughtful and prolific student of pacifism and nonviolence, Christian ethics, the Old Testament, Biblical archaeology and the study of the historical Jesus. His early writing addressed pacifism in the context of nuclear weapons and the challenges they presented to traditional just war theories. His later work focused on the Old Testament and Biblical history.

    Beyond being Manchester’s first peace studies major and a well-respected teacher and scholar, McFadden was my Uncle Bob. He officiated Renee’s and my wedding and I enjoyed long conversations with him about our shared interests in politics and religion. In fall 1990, I wrote “Vocational Pacifism and Civil Disobedience” for Brethren Life and Thought after we talked about an article he wrote – “Perspective in Pacifism” – for the same publication in spring 1961.

    As president of his alma mater, I am deeply grateful for the ways in which W. Robert McFadden used his Manchester education to teach and promote peace and justice. As his nephew, I am glad to have spent many hours in his company. He will be missed!

  • Thankful for exploring new ideas

    by Melinda Lantz | Nov 21, 2017

    Posted Nov. 21 - I’m grateful this Thanksgiving season for innovation and innovators at Manchester. Several faculty have brought forward or are exploring new curricular ideas this fall:

    • Jeff Osborne, associate professor of chemistry, proposed a new major in global health, bringing an interdisciplinary approach to the complex social and medical issues shaping health care around the world.
    • Jeff Beer, associate professor of exercise science and athletic training, suggested bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nutrition, noting that nutrition is growing as an area of emphasis in promoting health and well-being.
    • Scott DeVries, associate professor of Spanish, and Thelma Rohrer, dean of arts and humanities, are developing a proposal to strengthen our programs in modern languages.
    • A committee including Mark Huntington, Jeff Osborne, Kim Duchane, Cheryl Krueckeberg, Jennifer Henriksen, Susan Klein, Raylene Rospond and Whitney Caudill is exploring opportunities in nursing.
    • Tommy Smith, dean of pharmacy, and a small working group are examining possible degrees and certificates in precision medicine and bioinformatics, building on our growing program in pharmacogenomics.

    All of these are simply ideas at this point, but they reflect a growing energy at Manchester around strengthening our academic programs and extending our mission. Thank you, all, for your passion for Manchester and our students!

  • Stories to share

    by Melinda Lantz | Nov 16, 2017

    Posted Nov. 16 - My job at Manchester is to tell stories. Today, over coffee at Sisters, Heather Schilling, Education Department chair and director of teacher education, shared some great ones. Each one reflects a facet of who we are and the kind of community we want to be. We only had an hour, so she had to talk quickly:

    • Assistant Professor Stacy Stetzel organized 15 faculty and staff volunteers to serve as mentors to our wrestling team. It’s a reciprocal relationship. Since not all of the mentors know much about wrestling, some of the wrestlers are putting together a video explaining scoring. (If you’ve ever been lost watching college wrestling, you’ll want to see it.)
    • Heidi Wieland, field experience and assessment coordinator, and Heather, through friendships and conversations with two of our African-American students, invited a diverse group of nearly 20 students to Heather’s home to talk about what it is to be black at Manchester. It was exactly the kind of conversation we want our students to have, listening to and learning from each other, guided by trusted faculty and staff.
    • Faculty are working on a partnership with a South Whitley preschool, giving our students opportunities to serve as classroom assistants and strengthening the quality of services offered to the children. They are also actively involved in the Wabash County Early Childhood Initiative.
    • Our Student Education Association (SEA) is always vibrant, and this year is no exception. Our delegation to the fall state convention was the largest of any college or university – public or private – and our group is the second largest in the state, period. Our students regularly serve in state-level leadership positions; Bradley Williams is the representative for Region 2 this year.
    • The department spent a day with our custodial staff scraping gum off the bottom of desks and sanitizing classrooms in the Academic Center. Organized by Stacy and joined by Dean Leonard Williams, they devoted Reading Day (the Monday of finals week) to working shoulder to shoulder with their staff colleagues.
    • Faculty actively engage students in joint research. Assistant Professor Mike Martynowicz, in the troughs of finishing his dissertation, worked with a student over the summer studying retention at Manchester. Their preliminary results were especially helpful after we experienced a downturn in first- to second-year retention this year.
    • Heather is the official mom for the Women’s Basketball Team and helps organize football tailgating for players and families. She is a tireless cheerleader for our student-athletes in all sports and draws everyone around her into supporting them.

    You can get to know our education faculty by following this link

  • A thousand forests

    by Melinda Lantz | Oct 09, 2017

    Posted Oct. 9 - In an 1841 essay titled “History,” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

    Ask faculty and staff why they work at Manchester and, almost to a person, they will say “our students.”  Our passion at Manchester is nurturing students – encouraging, challenging, mentoring, teaching – providing all of the resources and support they need to discover where they might go with their lives.

    When new students arrive on our campuses, we give them an acorn. When they graduate, they receive an oak seedling. Both represent the hope that we place in them, that they will thrive while they are here and beyond.

    If, as Emerson wrote, one acorn can yield a thousand forests, then our work, minute-by-minute, day-by-day, year-by-year, yields thousands upon thousands of forests. This is who we are.

  • We’ve always been audacious

    by Melinda Lantz | Sep 27, 2017

    Posted Sept. 27 - I’m often asked, “What’s the next big thing for Manchester?” It’s a question I love, because it means the person asking it expects a “next big thing” from us. We’ve done big things before and they anticipate we have more in store.

    Lest we forget, we’ve always been audacious:

    • We came to North Manchester in 1889 after the Town of North Manchester raised $6,800 of an $8,000 goal, enough to build the first building on campus, Bumgerdner Hall (it is still in use as the west end of the Administration Building).
    • We launched the world’s first peace studies major in 1948, shortly after World War II ended, believing that conflict could be resolved without violence.
    • Our Environmental Studies Program, started in 1971, was one of the nation’s first, begun just one year after the first Earth Day.
    • Our Pharmacy Program, begun in 2010, was audacious for a school of our size. We began offering our first doctoral program, opened a second campus in Fort Wayne and drew $35 million in support from the Lilly Endowment Inc.
    • In 2016, we launched a master’s degree in pharmacogenomics, the first of its kind in the nation, on our Fort Wayne campus.  We’re adding an online degree in January.

    My vision for Manchester is that we be audacious, serve well and extend our mission. It is who we are and who we have been for generations.