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  • Stories I heard in Alaska

    by Melinda Lantz | Aug 18, 2017

    Posted Aug. 18 - I’ve just returned from a two-week trip with alumni to Alaska. It was a wonderful trip, partly because of the vistas and wildlife that we saw, but also because of the alumni we got to know. Renee and I made a point to share a meal with each person or couple that wanted to meet with us. As with all such conversations, the best part was hearing their stories about Manchester and what they’ve done with their lives after.

    They were an eclectic group. The oldest were in their 80s and Renee and I were among the youngest. They were physicians, missionaries, teachers, pastors, farmers, social workers, nurses and more. Among their stories, we heard:

    • One couple, newly graduated from Manchester and newly married, chose to go to Laos for two years during the Vietnam War. He had a high draft number and could have avoided going to Southeast Asia, but he felt called to help those in need. Both went. They worked with agriculture and community health projects in a war zone.
    • One alumnus told me he majored in math and chemistry and minored in physics and communication studies. “Communication studies?” I asked him. “That one doesn’t fit.” He told me he felt strongly that being able to communicate effectively with others was one of the most important things he could learn at Manchester.
    • One alumna practices family medicine in a solo practice. She acknowledged that her way of serving her patients is out of step with the direction of health care, but said that it allows her to choose who she serves regardless of their insurance. Her patients are her family, she says.

    I am proud to claim each of each of these graduates as alumni. They embody the spirit of “ability and conviction” and have, over the course of their careers, improved the human condition in tangible and real ways.

     

  • Welcome to an amazing learning community

    by Melinda Lantz | Jul 31, 2017

    Posted July 31 - As we start the 2017-18 academic year, I share with you a letter to new faculty that will be included in their orientation packets. In choosing Manchester, they join a long line of extraordinary teachers and mentors.

    Welcome to Manchester! You are joining an amazing learning community.

    When you are asked by friends and family what distinguishes Manchester from other institutions, I encourage you start with our mission. We begin by affirming the infinite worth of every person, commit ourselves to nurturing both ability and conviction and know we have done our best when our graduates live lives that improve the human condition.

    When I talk with students, I say Manchester is a place where you can be yourself and will be challenged to become your best self. “Self and best self” – you will hear that often. The same applies to all of us at Manchester. We become our best selves by interacting and engaging with people who are different than we are. Our students and employees have different values, different life stories, different beliefs and different experiences. Each one of us is of infinite worth and someone to learn from and with.

    We chose you from among many others because you personify our mission. I know this because we don’t settle or compromise when inviting new colleagues into our community. We value deeply who you are and what you bring: your abilities and convictions; stories and experiences; beliefs and commitments; learning, knowledge and wisdom. You will help us live out our mission and keep our promises to our students, alumni, donors, employers and each other.

    Over the coming months, you will come to understand why we say, “The world needs more Manchester graduates.” Our students and graduates are special people. They leave Manchester equipped to contribute in the workplace, excel in graduate school, shape their communities and change the world.

    On my office wall, I have a paraphrased quote from New England theologian Frederich Buechner: “Vocation is that place to which you are called where your deep joy meets the world’s great need.” I am a third-generation graduate of Manchester. I met my wife, Renée, here, our two grown children are fourth-generation graduates, and I have worked at Manchester since 1993. 

    I am deeply rooted here and Manchester has been a place of vocation for me for many years. I hope you find us to be that place for you.

    Welcome.

     



  • Summer work

    by Melinda Lantz | Jul 19, 2017

    Posted July 19 - There is a commonly held myth that teachers don’t work in the summer. Anyone married to a teacher - as I have been for nearly 40 years – knows that isn’t true.

    In fact, many teachers do their best and most creative work in the summer when they can focus on professional pursuits.

    Debra Lynn, professor of music, is having just that sort of summer. She emailed me recently and pointed me toward a website (https://debralynnmusic.wordpress.com/) that tracks her summer efforts, including progress on her composing and recording projects. Beyond the news of her summer work, I was drawn to the “completed works” page that lists nine compositions since 2015 and 20 total since 2010. Among them is one of my favorites, “I Find My Feet Have Further Goals,” which is sung each year during Baccalaureate by our graduating seniors.

    I am grateful to all of our faculty who devote significant parts of the summer conducting research with students, pursuing academic and professional interests, preparing to teach during the coming year and, yes, recharging their batteries. Thank you for serving Manchester and our students so well.

  • Self and best self

    by Melinda Lantz | Jun 28, 2017

    Posted June 28 - At Manchester, you can be yourself and you will be challenged to become your best self. I say this so often that it risks becoming a cliché.

    Recently, in Louisville, I shared this “Self and Best Self” summary of Manchester’s mission: we respect the infinite worth of every person – you can be yourself at Manchester – and we seek to graduate persons of ability and conviction – you will be challenged to become your best self during your time here.

    The setting was a workshop on institutional messaging that I presented with Adam Hohman, assistant vice president for enrollment and marketing, at a conference. Sponsored by an academic program development group called Learning House, the conference focused on how institutions can adapt and thrive in the face of significant changes in higher education.

    Our session felt decidedly old school. We talked about message mapping and finding authentic and relevant language to tell an effective institutional story. It didn’t focus on technology or new learning strategies or alternative credentialing. Rather, we focused on the “why” of an institution rather than the “how,” on the mission rather than the delivery of instruction.

    I was reminded, in explaining it, that our mission – the opportunity to be yourself and the challenge to become your best self – is what distinguishes us from many institutions around us. It’s also what makes me proud to serve Manchester with all of those who work here to help our students succeed and go out to change the world. 

  • The best

    by Melinda Lantz | May 15, 2017

    Posted May 15 - It’s common to hear that graduation is the best weekend of the academic year on campuses across the country. The students with whom faculty and staff have worked closely are about to graduate and go into the world. This year’s Class of 2017 at Manchester includes undergraduates, pharmacy, pharmacogenomics and athletic training graduates.

    At Manchester, this “best weekend” is extended into the “best week,” as graduates return for Alumni Days. On the Tuesday after commencement, graduates from 1967 will gather to celebrate their 50th class reunion. They will be joined by alumni celebrating their graduations of 55, 60, 65 and 70 years ago.

    • Our new graduates leave ready to change the world. Our alumni return to share stories of their contributions, large and small, that have improved the human condition.
    • Our new graduates leave with hugs and handshakes from family and extended Manchester family, able to touch those who made their success possible. Our alumni return to reunite with some and remember others who touched their lives at Manchester.
    • Most of our graduates leave with some amount of debt, having borrowed to invest in their futures. Most of our alumni return having contributed to Manchester over many years, investing in the futures of others.

    Gratitude, celebration and hope for the future mark both events, making this the best week of the year.

     

  • Building bridges

    by Melinda Lantz | Mar 13, 2017

    Posted March 13 - Manchester is preparing to build bridges in northeast Indiana.

    In October 2014, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership (NEIRP) launched a project to identify and clearly articulate the distinctive strengths of our 11-county region. Called “Our Story,” the consultant-led process engaged more than 850 individuals in 23 in-person workshops and an online workshop and resulted in a messaging platform that is being used to market and promote the region.

    The process identified storylines that were easily and quickly embraced, but also some disagreements about who we are. The most significant area of disagreement was around inclusion. We agreed that people in northeast Indiana are warm and welcoming – the personification of Hoosier hospitality – but differed on whether this is synonymous with being inclusive.

    The project summary included this caution:

    The region may be mistaking Midwestern values and helpfulness for being inclusive, which was revealed as a blind spot. A divide exists between how welcoming the region thinks it is, and how welcomed people actually feel.

    The debate and discussion across the region during the workshops pointed consistently to the need for the region to improve on the concept of inclusiveness. This is critical in order to bring more people together, attract new talent, and inspire the growth required to leave a legacy for future generations.

    Manchester has a long tradition and well-established competence in helping individuals and groups move from understanding to appreciation of difference. For more than 20 years, for example, we’ve offered Safe Zone training to help students, faculty and staff understand issues around sexual orientation. The four-hour training program covers vocabulary, building appreciation of what it is to be LGBTQ in today’s society, the consequences of being a largely invisible minority, myths and research about sexual orientation and gender identity, and how to support those who seek empathy, understanding and allies.

    This training, as well as other workshops in conflict transformation, celebrating diversity, tackling racism and listening across cultures will be part of the programming offered through our new Intercultural Center to regional businesses, organizations and individuals, helping northeast Indiana bridge from friendly to welcoming, from tolerant to affirming of differences.

  • Claiming our place

    by Melinda Lantz | Jan 09, 2017

    Posted Jan. 9 - Every year, presidents of independent colleges and universities gather early in January to talk together about the state of higher education and compare notes about leading their individual institutions. This year, I come home to Manchester proud and optimistic.

    The institutions that gathered were diverse. This year there were breakfast sessions for schools with enrollments of 600 or fewer and discussions of the responsibilities of those with endowments exceeding $1 billion. As different as we were, the things that keep us up at night were strikingly similar: students and families unable to pay for college, questions about the sustainability of doing even more with even less year after year, a widely held perception that a college education is no longer a good investment and attacks on the fundamental value of the liberal arts.

    I am proud to claim who we are and the work we are doing in the face of these challenges. For decades, we have served many students who were the first in their families to go to college and who sacrificed to pay for their educations. We have educated all of our students broadly, infusing our curriculum with the liberal arts and preparing our graduates to be lifelong learners. Both remain true today. It makes balancing our budget a challenge, but enriches our students and the world.

    I am optimistic as well. The world needs more Manchester graduates. We graduate persons of ability and conviction, individuals with skills and values that can take on the seemingly intractable problems we face today. And equally good news: The world wants more Manchester graduates. Employers find our new graduates well prepared and eager to contribute on day one and tell us they are excited to hire them.

    Proud and optimistic: a great way to start the new year!

  • Medical Practicum connects generations

    by Melinda Lantz | Dec 05, 2016

    Posted Dec. 5 - I was reminded recently that our January Session Medical Practicum is an intergenerational event at Manchester. Led by Jeff Osborne, associate professor of chemistry, a group of students, faculty, alumni and friends of Manchester will spend the better part of three weeks in Alto Wangki-Bocay, Nicaragua, providing health services to more than 1,000 underserved individuals.

    While traveling in Texas, Renee and I had dinner with Robert Studebaker ’91 and his family. Next month, Robert, a dentist, and his wife, Mybell, who manages his practice, will participate in their third consecutive practicum. Last year, two of their children, Rico and Annie, and Robert’s physician father, John ’68, made the trip. “They had three generations working together, with Nico and Annie having days working with their grandfather and parents,” says Osborne. Robert told us that his interest in dentistry was sparked in 1985 when, as a high school student, he made the trip with his father.

    The trip is generational in another sense: It has been handed down and nurtured by many after Professor Ed Miller took his first group south in 1981. As was true for Robert, the experience has launched many into careers in the health sciences.

  • Now more than ever

    by Melinda Lantz | Nov 10, 2016

    Posted Nov. 10 - Manchester University’s mission is more relevant and needed today than at any time in recent history.

    Manchester University respects the infinite worth of every individual and graduates persons of ability and conviction who draw upon their education and faith to lead principled, productive and compassionate lives that improve the human condition.

    We are an amazingly diverse community of teachers and learners. And we are deeply committed to inclusion and diversity.

    We bring different faith traditions, political viewpoints, and personal experiences to the table. Some of us live lives of privilege and others at the margins. We would not be who we are without these differences and we treasure them. In the classroom, in our personal interactions, as we step out into our communities as clinicians, interns, student teachers, mentors and volunteers, we carry what we learn from each other into each new relationship and experience.

    Within our diversity, because of this diversity, we know the significance of respecting the infinite worth of every individual, becoming persons of ability and conviction and improving the human condition. Now more than ever.

    .

  • Our Brethren foundation

    by Melinda Lantz | Nov 08, 2016
    Posted Nov. 8 - I recently chaired a meeting of the Brethren Higher Education Association, a group comprised of the presidents of the colleges, universities and seminary of the Church of the Brethren. We meet regularly to discuss common issues and shared interests.

    This meeting began with a Sunday afternoon conversation. We sat down with a working group of campus pastors, advancement and admissions staff – they go by the acronym COBCOA – who aim to recruit Brethren students to our campuses and keep us connected to the church. Nearly 20 years old, this cross-institutional collaboration represents Brethren higher education at Annual Conference, National Youth Conference and in many other Brethren venues. The group’s staying power reflects our institutional and shared commitments to engaging with the wider church.

    There were three significant outcomes. First, we affirmed our common foundational values: peace and social justice, service, community, diversity and inclusion, and stewardship. Second, we agreed that those values drive us to a common goal: equipping young people to live lives of consequence. Third, we reaffirmed the good work of COBCOA.

    While the words we use on each campus differ when we talk about mission and values, they all clearly reflect our shared rootedness in the Church of the Brethren. It’s certainly true at Manchester, where we respect the infinite worth of every individual and graduate persons of ability and conviction who draw upon their education and faith to lead principled, productive and compassionate lives that improve the human condition.

  • We celebrate Parker's life and mourn his loss

    by Melinda Lantz | Oct 17, 2016

    Posted Oct. 17 - Renée and I had the honor of representing the Manchester family at the memorial service for Parker Marden, Manchester’s 13th president. Parker was remembered by family and friends as generous, funny, intellectually engaged and a mentor. I knew and experienced him in all of those ways.

    Our son, Sam, experienced the intersection of Parker’s humor and generosity. During the years when Steve Alford’s basketball teams regularly filled the PERC, Sam, then in late elementary school, would come into the stands looking for his parents for money for concessions. Renée and I were always seated halfway down a tightly packed row of fans, with Parker and Ann seated on the aisle where Sam would stand with a pleading look on his face. Parker, an excellent actor, would look at Sam, look down the row at us, look at Sam again, and then – with a weary shake of his head – pull out his wallet and give Sam a dollar. Neither could help but smile after the exchange, Sam in gratitude for the dollar and Parker for the chance to act out the game, over and over.

    Parker Marden lived a good life, well worth celebrating, and he will be missed.

  • Building bridges

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Oct 10, 2016

    Posted March 13 - Manchester is preparing to build bridges in northeast Indiana.

    In October 2014, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership (NEIRP) launched a project to identify and clearly articulate the distinctive strengths of our 11-county region. Called “Our Story,” the consultant-led process engaged more than 850 individuals in 23 in-person workshops and an online workshop and resulted in a messaging platform that is being used to market and promote the region.

    The process identified storylines that were easily and quickly embraced, but also some disagreements about who we are. The most significant area of disagreement was around inclusion. We agreed that people in northeast Indiana are warm and welcoming – the personification of Hoosier hospitality – but differed on whether this is synonymous with being inclusive.

    The project summary included this caution:

    The region may be mistaking Midwestern values and helpfulness for being inclusive, which was revealed as a blind spot. A divide exists between how welcoming the region thinks it is, and how welcomed people actually feel.

    The debate and discussion across the region during the workshops pointed consistently to the need for the region to improve on the concept of inclusiveness. This is critical in order to bring more people together, attract new talent, and inspire the growth required to leave a legacy for future generations.

    Manchester has a long tradition and well-established competence in helping individuals and groups move from understanding to appreciation of difference. For more than 20 years, for example, we’ve offered Safe Zone training to help students, faculty and staff understand issues around sexual orientation. The four-hour training program covers vocabulary, building appreciation of what it is to be LGBTQ in today’s society, the consequences of being a largely invisible minority, myths and research about sexual orientation and gender identity, and how to support those who seek empathy, understanding and allies.

    This training, as well as other workshops in conflict transformation, celebrating diversity, tackling racism and listening across cultures will be part of the programming offered through our new Intercultural Center to regional businesses, organizations and individuals, helping northeast Indiana bridge from friendly to welcoming, from tolerant to affirming of differences.

  • Educating the whole person

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Oct 10, 2016

    Posted Aug. 17 - “My name is Kevin, but my friends call me Gork.” I was a first-year student at Manchester and my resident assistant (RA) was Gork. It was an interesting start to life in Ikenberry Hall. He guided us through the challenges of residence hall living, led us in snowball fights when other halls came marauding and, most memorably, taught us how to belch the alphabet.

    I’m reminded of Gork every time I meet with our RAs at the beginning of the year during their orientation. They understand that their roles are complicated. They are friends, mentors, enforcers, leaders, teachers and guides, all at the same time. They also know, from experience, that they make an enormous difference in the lives of their residents. One student said that she became an RA because she appreciated and admired her own RA when she was a first-year student.

    One of our priorities at Manchester is educating the whole person. For undergraduate students who live on our North Manchester campus – nearly 1,000 this year – their growth from self to best self includes lessons learned from their RAs. I was glad that Gork was my RA and grateful that our students this year will be served so well by a great group of RAs.

     
  • Building the body and feeding the soul

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Oct 10, 2016

    Our work at Manchester today is to build the body and feed the soul.

    Building the body means more effectively serving our students, growing our enrollments, strengthening our programs, drawing new resources and staying competitive in a difficult and changing marketplace.

    Feeding the soul means advancing our mission, providing opportunities for our students to become graduates of ability and conviction, fostering community on and across our campuses, and leading in ways that are distinctively Manchester.

    Sometimes we accomplish both with a single action. An example is the new Intercultural Center we are planning to put at College Avenue and East Street. In April the Board of Trustees approved our plan to build a new structure to replace the current Intercultural Center, located in an old house across from the Administration Building. They quickly challenged us, though, to think bigger, to have the space reflect, in form and function, our commitment to inclusion and to serve as a focal point for those efforts in the community and region.

    So now our plans include a large, round gathering space, approximately 50 feet in diameter and nearly 2,000 square feet in area. I’ve described this room, this setting, as a community space, a sacred space, where we can step away from the incivility of the world around us and learn from our differences. When it is completed, we will invite our neighbors in northeast Indiana to join us for these important conversations, grounded in the infinite worth of every person and aiming to make the world a better place for everyone.

     
  • Faculty who make a difference

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Oct 10, 2016

    During faculty workshop on the North Manchester campus recently, I shared this story to illustrate the way they change student lives:

    A colleague and I had lunch with several football players during pre-season camp this week. Two were quarterbacks, complete with ice packs on their throwing arms, and one a wide receiver. Two were first-year students and one a senior.

    We asked each what they were most looking forward to this year. Logan Haston, the senior QB, said he is most looking forward to his TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) student teaching placement this year. Really? I thought he’d say “being a senior” or “leading the football team.” But TESOL?

    Logan told us that faculty introduced him to TESOL during his first year as an education major. He loved it and ended up adding it as a minor. One thing led to another and Logan spent last spring in Barcelona, Spain, where he learned firsthand how his future TESOL students might feel.

    Logan says that when he came to Manchester he was “closed minded.” In Spain, he said, he especially enjoyed learning another culture. One idea, one suggestion opened a mind to a world of possibilities.

     
  • Remembering those who came before us

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    Every year during Alumni Days, we hold a memorial service to remember those who died during the previous year. The list is often long and always rich with graduates and friends of the University who enriched the lives of those around them. This year we remembered individuals whose ages ranged from 19 to 104. Four were current students when they died. It is always a difficult and moving service.

    At the same time that we mourned the loss of friends and family, we celebrated their lives. Farmers, pastors, business people, health care providers, artists, teachers, spouses, caretakers and others: They had diverse callings and used their gifts to enrich the lives of others. Some were nationally and internationally acclaimed, and some known and admired only by their family and friends, and for whom that was enough.

    We were reminded that we stand on the shoulders — strong and broad — of those who have come before us. We know that one day, a new generation will stand on our shoulders and reap the benefits of our knowledge and talents and contributions. Each generation leaves its legacy for those who follow. May God bless those who passed away this year and those of us who remain to carry on.

  • The real meaning of a winner

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    Each fall, winter and spring, Renée and I host athletic team captains and coaches at Tall Oaks. It’s a chance for us to get to know them and them to get to know each other.

     While athletics at many Division I schools drain resources and give administrators headaches, our athletics program and student-athletes make us a better place.

    Earlier this month, we shared time with spring season captains and coaches and asked what has become a standard question: What have you most enjoyed this year? It being a gathering of highly accomplished athletes, you would expect the answers to be all about personal bests or winning seasons. Instead we heard “my January Session Cinema course with Dr. Jonathan Watson” and “the friendships I have across campus” and “watching my teammates improve.”

    The day after the gathering, Dylan Burns, a senior golfer, offered an apology for missing the event. He said he had a tutoring appointment. “Being tutored or tutoring?” I asked. “I was tutoring someone,” he said. Not what you would hear from a successful athlete at many institutions, but exactly what I expected Dylan to say.

  • Chocolate chip cookies

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    One of my favorite things to do as president is sending emails to students that begin, “My wife, Renée, makes awesome oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and a bag of cookies with your name on it is waiting in my office.” Sometimes the cookies go to students we know well and sometimes to someone I just met for the first time on the sidewalk. They are a tangible expression of our affection for our students.

    Renée’s cookies are awesome. They are soft and loaded with chocolate chips. Some students think I’m bragging about Renee’s baking out of loyalty, but they discover I’m sharing an evidence-based fact (the evidence being that no one has ever declined a second bag when offered).

    Students love homemade cookies and, for me, it’s fun to have students visit my office. For most, it’s the first time they’ve been here. Some arrive with trepidation and most leave with a smile.

    Each email ends with a warning: “if you don’t pick up your cookies in the next day or so, I can’t guarantee that some of them won’t have been eaten when you come by.” After all, I have 40 years of experience with Renée’s cookies and affection only goes so far.

  • The White Hot Why

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    Maranda Partin, a senior education major, shared this with Heather Schilling, associate professor and chair of the Education Department. It is worth sharing verbatim:

    Good morning! I have been thinking a lot about the question you asked us Thursday night during class: "Why are you here?" I have been reminiscing on my time at Manchester and my decision to go into education. At 101 Days to Commencement [a dinner for seniors], we all received letters that we wrote to ourselves as first-years. Mine consisted of reminding myself that all I wanted for a career was to make a difference and positively impact people's lives. As a first-year, that meant going into the medical field. However, we both know that I chose a different route. 

    Your question and that letter to myself has been on my mind all weekend and yesterday at church, the theme of the service was, "The White Hot Why?" The pastor continued the service quoting Scripture and discussing the big question, "Why are we here?" Sitting though this service I couldn't believe how much that related to everything that I had been thinking about for the past few days. It was overwhelming the way I felt God was speaking to me during this service. My "white hot why" and my purpose in life, I believe, is to positively impact the lives of students through education and it all goes back to what I came to Manchester for: to make a difference. 

    Anyway, the point of this email is not only to answer your question but to also thank you. You and all the other education professors at Manchester are inspiring and if it weren't for your motivation and support I would not have discovered my passion and my “white hot why.” I see my peers being overwhelmed and nervous for the next chapter in their lives, but I believe because of your classes and the Education Department as a whole, I am ready and so excited to continue this chapter of my life and fulfill my purpose. So, thank you for all that you do for your students and all that you have done for me. 

     
  • Grieving together

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    We will look back on this academic year as one of the most emotionally taxing in recent memory at Manchester. In December we lost Chris Garber, a beloved colleague, and Tony Loera, a wonderful student. And then yesterday, the unimaginable: We lost three students and are praying for a fourth who is hospitalized after a horrific and senseless automobile accident.

    Last night several hundred students, faculty, staff and community members gathered to grieve together. We started in Petersime Chapel and, when it became obvious that the space was going to be far too small to accommodate those who were coming, we moved to the Switzer Center. The procession from the chapel to the Switzer Center was somber. As we walked, I felt connected to those I could see in front of me and supported by those who were following.

    The gathering reflected the best of Manchester and, for those who knew them best, the spirit and personalities of those who died. There was a lot of crying – boxes of Kleenex were passed around the room – but we also laughed often as student after student told stories about the friends they’d lost. I shared with the group that we’ve received dozens of emails, tweets, texts and phone calls expressing support and condolences from individuals and groups off campus.

    These are difficult times, but none of us is going it alone. Students and families are surrounded by close friends who are in turn supported by friends of friends, and all of us who experience Manchester as our extended family are held in the embrace of graduates, neighbors and those around us.

    You won’t find me saying there is any good that comes out of these losses. They are awful and painful and difficult. They do, though, reveal the good that is woven into who we are, that which makes us a wonderful, supportive community. I am grateful today for all of the good at Manchester.