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  • 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.

  • Making better decisions with data

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    One of our strategic initiatives is to “develop a culture focused on institutional effectiveness” and one of the ways we will do that is to enhance use of information and decision-making. What does this mean for us on a day-to-day, operational basis?

    An example is the way that we have begun to evaluate positions that are open because of retirement or resignation. Rather than reflexively fill the position, cabinet is now asking faculty and staff in those areas to present a business case explaining the need for the position. By “business case,” we mean an explanation of how the position advances our strategic priorities. In most cases, the decisions are fairly straightforward, but in others, the information that we receive helps us decide whether filling the position is the best use of limited resources. All of this is intended to help us meet our fifth strategic priority which is “deploying our resources well.”

    We have been applying the same approach to decisions about new programs and will use it to evaluate the effectiveness of recruiting and retention efforts, among others.

    This approach will help us contain our costs and keep Manchester affordable for students. It will help us draw new resources to fund new initiatives and capital projects. Over time, the result of using data to inform decisions will be a better alignment of our resources with our goals.

  • Ask Me

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    One of my favorite things to do is sit by a fire and talk with friends. I get to know others best when we can spend uninterrupted and unhurried time together. William Stafford’s* poem “Ask Me” invites us into just such a conversation – albeit much colder – when he says, “Some time when the river is ice ask me … whether what I have done is my life. … You and I can turn and look at the silent river and wait.”

    This spring semester’s opening convocation on Feb 9 takes its title from Stafford’s poem. I’m going to use the opportunity to talk with several faculty and students about how they learn from others. We’re a place where becoming our best selves is best done in community by connecting with and listening to one another, even when we disagree passionately.

    Join me next Tuesday to hear from Ahmed Abdelmageed, Michelle Calka, Quinn-Michael L'Heureux, Salwa Nubani, Jarod Schrock and Cheri Krueckeberg. You’ll also see many of your friends and colleagues answering these questions:

    • “What are you passionate about?”
    • “What is something you often argue about?”
    • “What do you do when you argue with someone you respect?”

    *In 1970, William Stafford was named the Library of Congress’s Consultant in Poetry, a position now known as the United States Poet Laureate. Well before he achieved national acclaim, Stafford taught for one year at Manchester, 1955-56.

  • A touch of glass represents the best of January session

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    I spent some time today watching and talking with students in Professor Jeff Diesburg’s January session Torchworking Glass class and was impressed by what they’ve been able to do as first-time glass artists. What most impressed me was the range of majors I found. In addition to the art students working in the third-floor science lab, I found a couple of chemistry majors and an exercise science major. I’m sure there were others as well.

    Students explained how they made clear marbles with colored glass inside (it has to do with the surface tension of the glass and the way it reacts when heated). One of the chemistry majors made a benzene ring and an art student with a bent toward biology was creating a school of goldfish.

    The class represents the very best of Manchester’s January session specifically and our approach to the liberal arts more generally. We want students to try new and different things in January, whether by traveling or working with red-hot glass. We also provide them with opportunities to learn outside their majors that inform how they view the world.

    I asked one student what he had learned and he said, “It’s harder than it looks.”  Another said she had learned “patience.” Both are good life lessons.

  • Admiration and appreciation

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    I spent Monday working with our physical plant staff. In a borrowed shirt with “Dave” and “Manchester University” on my chest, I helped with stripping floor wax, repairing folding chairs, preparing UPS packages for on campus delivery; servicing a lawn mower, learning about energy controls, cleaning an ice maker and replacing a worn-out door handle. OK, truth be told, at best I participated in these activities and at worst tried not to break anything.

    It was an enlightening day. Some of the work was back breaking. I only ran the floor scrubber to strip wax for about 10 minutes, but still feel it in my arms and back two days later. Some of it was mind bending. I learned that the energy monitors and controls we’ve installed, played like a Steinway by staff, have kept our utility bills flat despite rising rates and added square feet on campus.

    I asked each staff member “what do you most enjoy about your work?” Almost to a person, they said “the people” and mentioned faculty, staff and students. And that’s how my day ended – with a deep sense of admiration and appreciation for the people who maintain our home. Thanks Becca, Dallas, Gary, Kasey, Kody, Lisa, Mark, Matt, Pieter, Ron and Scott, for sharing your day with me (and Dave, for loaning your shirt). You do great work!

  • Professor Gilliar becomes a U.S. citizen

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016
    Beate Gilliar, a Manchester University professor of English since 1993, became a United States citizen this week. She took her oath with a Syrian faculty member at IPFW, an Iranian computer science major from Purdue and individuals from 15 nations. Celebrating a new flag on her desk, Beate says “In a time where hatred is capitalized against terror in all its outrageous dimensions I so celebrate the gifts of how we are granted to give in teaching and learning.” Amen.
  • Even a cup of coffee can reflect MU

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    It is sometimes the small things that make us glad to be part of the Manchester University community. A fellow coffee lover/addict from our Fort Wayne campus shared this story with me:

    “I am on the N. Manchester campus this evening for a guest lecture. Needing my coffee fix, I stopped by the Switzer Center. I asked Sandy at the register for a cup and she named two flavored coffees to which I replied, ‘Do you have any plain?’ (You know me and my black coffee).

    Sandy said hold on a second. She took an empty cup, ran to the back and returned with a full cup of hot, plain coffee. She hands it to me and says, ‘It’s on me’ when I tried to pay. I looked for a tip jar and there isn't one on the counter so I figured that an email to you mentioning how our appreciation for the ‘infinite worth of every individual’ is part and parcel of what we do here at Manchester, even at the level of a cup of coffee.”

  • Situational awareness

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    I just returned from a trip to New York City and was reminded when walking to dinner near Times Square that I wasn’t in North Manchester anymore.

    In North Manchester, beyond watching for occasional buckling in the sidewalk, I can walk at my own pace and be lost in thought. In New York, I had eyes and ears open constantly. I paid close attention to how fast or slow those around me were walking and tried to get a jump at the crosswalk if no traffic was coming. I looked for opportunities to sweep around those in front of me while watching for those waiting to sweep around me from behind.

    If higher education was ever like taking a walk in North Manchester (and I doubt it was), it is no longer. Thriving in today’s marketplace requires a greater degree of situational awareness – knowing what is going on around us – than ever before. We need to go about our business with eyes and ears wide open. We need to know where we are going and why we are heading there – our mission and strategic plan guide us – but we need to be nimble and agile on the way. We don’t want to be swept along by the crowd, but need to move forward at a pace and with an intentionality that keep us from being knocked down or bumped aside. 

  • Alumna's recent visit to campus a real joy

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    One of the best parts of my job is hearing about the wonderful things that our students, staff and faculty do day in and day out.  This email, from a former student, is a great example and, when it appeared in my inbox, it made my day.

    I shared it with the students, staff and faculty on our North Manchester campus with this message:

    “Manchester is a special place because of you. You invite others into our community in all the ways Jane describes, and more. Thank you."

    Original message:


    My name is Jane Jordan.  I was a student at Manchester from 1970 to 1972.  This past Wednesday my husband and I had occasion to visit the campus as I was picking up a book I have written at the Heckman Bindery.  I wanted to reminisce and tell him stories and see how things had changed.

    The campus is beautiful.  But, the thing that impressed me the most was the hospitality and genuine friendliness we encountered.  I have visited many college campuses and I have experienced them all pretty much the same way: students involved in conversations with peers, instructors hurrying about, minimal interaction with others.  I just wanted you to know that every single person we encountered made it a priority to at least make eye contact and greet us pleasantly.

    When entering or exiting a building, doors were always held open for us.  More often than not, they would ask if they could help us locate something or if we needed anything.  Many times, after finding out I used to attend there, they would engage us in conversation and explain changes that had occurred since that time. It was a lovely experience.

    I just wanted you to know that you should be very proud of your students and staff.  In this day and age when most are so busy and self-involved or buried in their communication devices, you have an atmosphere where others are noticed and welcomed and engaged.  I hope that you can somehow let them know that their friendliness and openness was much appreciated.  I am proud to have been a student at Manchester.

    Jane Jordan

  • Throwback Thursday

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    Many social media sites are inundated with stories and pictures from the past on “Throwback Thursdays.” Count this as my contribution.

    I was recently given a copy of an article written by Professor Emerita Ferne Baldwin in 1995 following our men’s basketball team’s 31-1 season that ended in a trip to Buffalo, N.Y. Titled “The Other Trip to Buffalo,” her piece harkens back to an earlier athletic trip to “The City of Good Neighbors.” It’s worth a read:

     “The Manchester College men’s basketball team went to Buffalo, N.Y.,  this year to compete as one of the final four in Division III competition. They went with a record of 30-0 and went into the championship game with 31-0. Manchester as national runner-up in NCAA Division III with a record of 31-1 for the 1995 season is a never-to-be-forgotten moment in history.

    But there is another story of a trip to Buffalo for a Manchester team which deserves to be remembered. A different team; a different sport; a different era; but also a successful trip.

    Sixty men answered the call for the first scrimmage of Manchester’s 1938 football team. This team faced an interesting schedule. Most thought it was the toughest schedule ever for the Manchester team. There were seven Indiana conference games and an inter-sectional fracas with the University of Buffalo; a there game on October 8. Perhaps it should be noted that the first and seconds all were attired in new uniforms; black satin in the backfield and gold satin in the line.

    It was decreed that not more than 30 could go on the three-day expedition to Buffalo and the competition was torrid, according to The Oak Leaves. Meantime, there were games to play with Valpo and Earlham. Manchester had never been beaten by Valpo and they maintained the record by winning 14-13 even though five times during the game the Valpo, 11 reached the Manchester 15-yard line and failed to score. Earlham was the victim of a 27-0 score as Manchester won its 19th straight game. The Quakers tried: nine passes but none completed.

    Then it was Buffalo. Twenty-three men had been chosen to make the trip. It was the first a Manchester football team had ventured beyond the borders of the state. A special car had been reserved on the Nickel Plate Railroad for the trip. The team boarded the train at Sidney at 12:06 p.m. and reached Buffalo at 10:05. Rest was the only item on the agenda until Saturday afternoon when the men visited Niagara Falls. The game started at 8 p.m.

    The Oak Leaves headline was succinct: BURT’S MEN RUN ROUGH-SHOD OVER STRONG BUFFALO TEAM. Buffalo was surprised to have a much smaller school defeat them 21 to 6. The game was played on the field at Tanawanda, N.Y.,  since the Buffalo field had no lights. A crowd of about 3,000 fans was willing to cheer for Manchester almost as much as for their own team.

    The first Manchester score was on a pass from Lieberum to Eikenberry. Brandon kicked the extra point. Next score came after an 80-yard uninterrupted drive down the field. Milliner punched it across from the 1-yard line and Brandon did his thing. The only Buffalo score came at the beginning of the second half at the end of a persistent drive down the field and on the fourth down. The final Manchester tally was after a 71-yd run down the sidelines by Lieberum and the usual conversion by Brandon.

    The Spartans came home to face Ball State the next Saturday. Ball State considered Manchester to be of the “corn-cob league” and were preparing to eliminate them from their schedule even though Manchester had won five and tied one out their last seven contests. The Spartans outplayed the Cardinals in the first half but the depth of their bench became obvious in the second half and the final score was 20-14 in Ball State’s favor.

    First game out of state; their game under lights and a victory. The other trip to Buffalo was special too.

  • A community comes together

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    The truest test of a community is crisis. We’ve faced our share of them in recent years – a fire in Schwalm Hall’s basement last fall and the shooter hoax last spring come to mind – but none compare to those that involve students or co-workers.

    Two weeks ago, a colleague, Chris Garber, was stricken with an as-yet-undiagnosed medical problem that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down and on a ventilator. At one point, he was going to be removed from life support and he remains in intensive care as I write this.

    You have to know Chris to know why his hospitalization constitutes a campus crisis. His role as vice president for operations has him out and about most of every day on both of our campuses. A former electrician and all around handyman, Chris would rather roll up his sleeves and dig into a project than work at his desk (in fact, he hates to work at his desk). Ask a colleague about Chris and they will start with “he is always upbeat and smiling.” Everyone loves Chris.

    Throughout his ordeal, Chris’s Manchester extended family and those in the community have rallied around him and his wife, Kathy. An impromptu gathering held in Petersime Chapel to pray for him during his darkest hour drew more than 100 Manchester colleagues and a second, held around the fountain behind the Administration Building, brought out more than 50 from the North Manchester community.

    Some express worry from time to time that, as we change and grow, we are losing the sense of being a family that has always marked Manchester. It sometimes takes our shared response to a crisis to remind us that we are still blessed to be part of a close and caring community.

  • Why do you give to MU?

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    One of my favorite things to do is calling and thanking recent donors to Manchester. I’ve been told that it’s part of my job – “it’s best if it comes from the president” – but it feels more like recess and less like school work did when I was a kid. It’s the highlight of my day and something I can’t get enough of. One of my favorite questions is “what prompted you to make your gift?”

    I talked recently with Linda Murbach ’62 to thank her for her gift to the Avis A. Murbach Literacy Fund and learned that her answer was “to equip future teachers to be effective teachers.”

    Linda graduated with a degree in education and spent her long career teaching, serving as a principal and working with children with learning disabilities in a hospital. Along the way she earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago. Linda told me that the fund is named in honor of her mother who borrowed from family and friends to keep Linda in college after her father’s health issues meant a loss of family income during her freshman year. Given that back story, I guessed that the endowment was a scholarship fund to help others who, like Linda, find it hard to pay for college.

    Instead, Linda told me, the endowment provides funds for faculty development in the area of teaching literacy. When Linda was a principal, she was discouraged that many of the new teachers that she interviewed and hired weren’t well prepared to teach literacy. “I know how important it is for faculty have the resources they need to be good teachers,” she said.

    Linda’s gift assures that our faculty are well equipped to graduate new teachers ready to contribute in the classroom from Day One. It’s a wonderful investment in making certain that future learners have more effective teachers than she could find when hiring new teachers.

  • It's raining tennis balls!

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    Tennis balls raining from the Chime Tower is a sure sign that school has started on the North Manchester campus. Professor Greg Clark has had his Physics 210 class doing a variation of the experiment for about 15 years. Sitting in the president’s office means I have a front row seat.

    I asked Greg for a simple explanation and this is what he sent me: “In a nutshell, students experimentally determine the free-fall acceleration (gravitational field strength) here at MU using their cell phones to take videos of a soccer ball dropped from the tower. They use software to analyze the video and produce graphs of the ball’s velocity vs. time and extract the acceleration.  They then use this and the average time of fall of a bunch of dropped tennis balls to determine the height of the tower using elementary kinematics.”

    Got it. Sort of. Actually, not so much.

    I thought maybe the lab instructions would help: “Determine the height of the Manchester Chime Tower, h ± δh, by modeling the motion as that of a body undergoing free-fall using your experimental value of g ± δg. Make multiple measurements of the time of fall and use the average time to calculate the height of the tower. Show all of your calculations and assumptions in a logical, easy to follow manner. Use MKS units for the calculations, but give the heights in meters, feet, and yards. Also, determine the speed with which the ball hits the ground.”

    Reading the instructions reminded me that I can’t help the students much when they are doing their calculations outside my window. Based on several years of observation, though, I could provide lots of guidance about the best ways to retrieve errant balls that bounce into or under the shrubs around the Administration Building or dodging cars when the balls make their way across College Avenue.

    Perhaps most importantly, I can help Greg meet one of his long-term goals: making sure there is safe roof access on the new Chime Tower when it is built.



  • How Manchester answers the “Why?” question

    by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

    Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on the importance of starting with “Why?” has been viewed 23,623,134 times and counting.

    Sinek says many organizations focus on what and how, “but very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by ‘why’ I don't mean ‘to make a profit.’ That's a result. It's always a result. By ‘why,’ I mean: What's your purpose? What's your cause? What's your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?

    A year ago, at our undergraduate faculty workshop, John Planer and I started a conversation about our mission and values. Our initial exchange was heated and took place before an audience of 70-plus colleagues, but continued on the way out of the meeting and then by email.

    John and I continue to disagree about the whats and hows of Manchester, but we agree completely on answering Sinek’s “why?” question. In one email, John said this:

     “…  Our nation and world need inspiration and hope —

    • A path leading toward a better future
    • A way to find meaning in our lives
    • A vision of people working together and caring for one another.”

    In that same message, John quoted from an email he’d received from a student, Katie Clauser ’17. Katie wrote, “I just want to play a part in creating a world that isn't as awful as it seems right now.” 

    Manchester’s “why” is to bring hope and prepare our students to deliver that hope. As John put it, “Instead of ignoring the unhappy world we live in, proclaim what we can do to improve it.”

     We communicate our fundamental commitment to improving the human condition when we tell prospective students that there is hope for a better world and that we will prepare them to be part of the solution; when we recruit new faculty by letting them know that teaching at Manchester changes lives and, through our graduates, changes the world; and by letting donors know that contributions are multiplied many times over through the work of our faculty, staff, students and graduates.

    We are growing because the world needs more Manchester graduates, graduates who are eager to “play a part in creating a world that isn’t as awful as it seems right now.”