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  • Medical Practicum connects generations

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