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BLUFFTON TRUSTEES HEAR ABOUT SOMMER CENTER OPENING; APPROVE BUDGETS, SABBATICALS
Bluffton Universitys new Sommer Center for Health and Fitness Education was a popular place on Nov. 5, the day it opened to the campus community. At its meeting Nov. 9 and 10, the Bluffton Board of Trustees learned just how popular.
"About 300 studentsroughly one-third of Blufftons residential student populationused the buildings Fitness and Weight Training Center on opening day," said Dr. Mark Bourassa, director of the Sommer Center, as well as Marbeck Center and Founders Hall. "The excitement and enthusiasm continued through the week. Our students are thrilled with the facility and what its offerings add to our campus community."
The fitness equipment is among the enhanced facilities that the Sommer Center offers to Bluffton students, faculty and staff. Its opening was the culmination of a nearly 16-month construction process and a multi-year comprehensive campaign effortExtending Our Reach The Campaign for Blufftonwhich surpassed its goal of $30 million in gifts and pledges.
The more than $32.7 million that was raised during the campaign included $14 million-plus for the Sommer Center. Gifts to the campaign also support academic programs, student financial aid and the universitys endowment, including endowed funds for faculty research and student scholarships.
"Our current campaign total more than doubles any previous campaign effort and is a testament to the wonderful commitment of many alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, trustees, churches, businesses and friends who believe in Blufftons mission," said Dr. Hans Houshower, vice president for advancement.
Also at the trustees meeting, President James Harder shared an update on the universitys long-range facilities planning process, an important component of the 2011-15 strategic plan.
"Blufftons facilities master plan was last revised in 2000 and has informed the development of new campus facilities and renovations since then," Dr. Harder noted. "With the completion of the Sommer Center and other projects, it is time to renew and extend the master plans assessment of Blufftons priority needs further into the future with a careful process during the coming year."
The board also heard goals from Blufftons vice presidents of academic affairs, advancement, enrollment management and marketing, fiscal affairs and student life.
In board business, the trustees:
Approved the Austin E. Knowlton Memorial Scholarship with a preference for students from Logan County, Ohio, majoring in math or related fields.
Adopted a resolution of support for the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce and the Allen Economic Development Group's Local Government Innovation Fund grant from the Ohio Department of Development for creating a credentialed workforce.
Approved a 2012-13 operations budget of $34,780,866 and a 2012-13 capital improvement budget of $1,058,623.
In addition, sabbaticals were approved for:
Dr. Trevor Bechtel, associate professor of religion, to articulate a theology of human-animal relationships in a world where every aspect of life, for both human and non-human animals, is increasingly mediated by technology.
Dr. Daniel Berger, professor of chemistry, to develop chemistry-based educational materials for two National Science Foundation-supported web portals, contribute to a team-taught interdisciplinary seminar at the University of Toledo and to present results at scientific meetings, including the 2014 Biennial Conference on Chemical Education.
Dr. Jo Ellyn Peterson, associate professor of education, to provide assistance and support at a school for students with special needs in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala.
Dr. W. Todd Rainey, professor of biology, to conduct research concerning physiological and behavioral responses to infections and a metabolic stress syndrome in Drosophila fruit flies and other insect "model organisms."
In other business, the trustees updated their bylaws to change member terms from six to four years and adjusted the term limits for members to 20 years. Board members serve at-large, as representatives of Bluffton alumni or as appointees from Mennonite Church USA or church conferences. The full board will begin meeting three times a year after July 1instead of two times under the current schedulereducing the need for meetings of the boards executive committee. The board also modified its committee structure in separating enrollment management and student life oversight, paralleling recent changes in the universitys administrative structure.
Bluffton public relations, 11/16/12