MU Today Celebrating One Manchester

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  • 'Manchester people'

    by User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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.


  • Stories I heard in Alaska

    by User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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.



  • Summer work

    by User Not Found | 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 ( 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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!