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The fall semester of the 2006-07 academic school year is one filled with celebration at Bluffton University as the campus welcomes a new president. The inauguration of Dr. James M. Harder will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8, in Founders Hall.

The planning committee for Harder’s inauguration has scheduled a number of events in addition to the ceremony to commemorate this significant moment in Bluffton’s history. "We haven’t had many presidents at Bluffton in its 106 years," said Don Schweingruber, chair of the inaugural planning committee, "This is an exciting time for the university."

A number of events take place Friday, Oct. 6, and Saturday, Oct. 7, leading up to the inauguration. These special events include an art exhibit at The Grace Albrecht Gallery in Sauder Visual Arts Center; faculty showcases displayed throughout campus, which profile the academic life at Bluffton; and an exhibit consisting of the work of former Bluffton University presidents, which will be open noon-3 p.m., both days, in Musselman Library.

On Sunday, the inauguration ceremony will begin with a processional in which faculty, staff, student leaders of campus organizations, greeters and delegates from 40 different institutions will participate. Greeters include Hannah Kehr, Student Senate President; Dr. Angie Montel, Bluffton University professor of biology; Dr. Donald L. Pannabecker, emeriti faculty; Fred Rodabaugh, mayor of Bluffton; Dr. C. Todd Jones, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio; Craig Bauman, president of Bluffton University Alumni Association; the Rev. Roy Williams, moderator of Mennonite Church USA; and the Rev. James Schrag, executive director of Mennonite Church USA. The four living former Bluffton University presidents will also participate in the
ceremony. They include Dr. Lee Snyder (1996-2006), Dr. Elmer Neufeld (1978-96), Dr. Benjamin Sprunger (1972-77) and Dr. Robert S. Kreider (1965-72).

Bluffton’s three choirs, Camerata, Bel Canto and Accent!, will be joined by the Bethany Christian School Chamber Choir and the Central Christian School Chamber Choir, allowing a combined choir of more than 100 singers to perform during the ceremony.

Following the ceremony, a reception to greet President and Mrs. Karen Harder will be held in Marbeck Center Commons. A picnic and festivities for campus and community members will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Salzman Stadium. The day will come to a close with a firework show at dusk.

A performance by Ted & Lee, a Christian comic duo, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, in Founders Hall, bringing a "light end to the inauguration weekend," said Schweingruber. Admission is free and open to the public.

Dr. Harder has served as Bluffton’s vice president for institutional planning since 2003 and special assistant to the president and professor of economics since 2001. Before his positions at Bluffton, he was a professor of economics and business at Bethel College in Kansas for 11 years. He received his bachelor’s degrees from Bethel College (Kan.) in 1978 and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Notre Dame in 1987 and 1990, respectively.

Photo—President James M. Harder

Katie Wrabel, public relations office, 9/21/06