An overview of Bluffton University


Our mission
Bluffton University is a liberal arts university in northwestern Ohio founded in 1899 and affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Shaped by that historic peace church tradition and nourished by a desire for excellence in all phases of its programs, Bluffton University seeks to prepare students of all backgrounds for life as well as vocation, for responsible citizenship, for service to all peoples and ultimately for the purpose of God's universal kingdom.

Bluffton's pursuit of excellence, informed by its Christian commitments as understood through Anabaptist/Mennonite faith values, expresses itself in the following Bluffton University purposes:

  • to provide a superior baccalaureate program in the liberal arts emphasizing individual inquiry, critical thinking and lifelong learning;
  • to provide superior preparation in a select number of professional areas as an integral part of the liberal arts program;
  • to provide select master's degree programs in areas of Bluffton University strengths and expertise which address contemporary needs;
  • to integrate the Christian expression of outreach, service and peacemaking into not only  the curricular and co-curricular programs, but the daily life of the university community;
  • to contribute to the intellectual, cultural and spiritual welfare of the local, national and global communities.

fToday, Bluffton has grown to an institution of more than 1,200 students, 65 full-time and 45 part-time teaching faculty, and 95 full-time and 19 part-time administrative and staff members.   Bluffton students come from approximately 20 states and a dozen foreign countries, and represent 20 different church denominations. Bluffton's living alumni number close to 13,000, and reside in all 50 states and many foreign countries.

Bluffton's values
Bluffton's motto, The Truth Makes Free, is taken from the words of Christ in the Gospel of John. On a daily basis, this truth finds expression at Bluffton through four enduring values of discovery, community, respect and service.

    • Discovery embodies the explorative nature of our academic offerings and cross-cultural requirement, the development of new relationships and experiences, and the uncovering of personal spirituality and faith.
    • Community represents the rich collaboration among faculty, students and staff, the residential and intimate nature of our campus, and the importance of the shared experience for discerning direction and meaning in life.
    • Respect encompasses and symbolizes our sensitivity to diversity within our community and to our commitments to peaceful resolution of conflict and to environmental stewardship.
    • Service personifies our heartfelt community outreach to meet the needs of others, and offers a means for helping to achieve a more fully reconciled, peaceful world.

Community of respect
Bluffton University strives to be a community of respect where everyone, regardless of circumstances or background, is held in mutual high regard. As members of the Bluffton community whether faculty, staff or students our standards of campus conduct are based on the mutual respect we believe we are committed to extend to each other.

At a minimum this means that Bluffton University will not discriminate against any student or employee because of race, color, creed, gender, religion, age, disability or ethnic or national origin, except that because of our heritage and mission we do give preference in appointing faculty and staff who share a commitment to Christian faith which is consistent with the Mennonite/Anabaptist beliefs of the university's founding and supporting church. However, those religious beliefs, which inform Bluffton's commitment to social justice, compel us to develop and celebrate a diverse and inclusive campus community with respect to culture and race, color, creed, gender, religion, age, disability or ethnic or national origin.

Program description
The educational program offerings of Bluffton University are organized as follows:

    • Traditional undergraduate programs enroll the largest number of Bluffton students about 825 and have been offered since the founding of Bluffton in 1899. Full-time students take four or five semester-long courses each fall and spring. During the month-long May term that follows spring semester, many students take the opportunity to travel on one of Bluffton's many cross-cultural experiences to both domestic and international locations. Bluffton also offers a limited selection of courses during a summer term. Most traditional program students are in the 18-24 age range, are pursuing the four-year Bachelor of Arts degree in one of Bluffton's many undergraduate majors and participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities. About 90 percent of them live on-campus in one of Bluffton's residence halls.
    • Adult undergraduate degree completion programs have been offered at Bluffton since 1992, and more recently at several off-campus sites. Students need about two years of previous college credit to enter this program. Total annual enrollment is about 106 students, with students working toward bachelor's degrees in organizational management or human resource management. Designed for working adults within driving distance of one of Bluffton's teaching locations in Archbold, Findlay, Piqua or Bluffton, the programs enroll students in cohort groups that take a series of one-night-a-week courses together (beginning a new course every four to six weeks), over a period of two years to finish the degree.
    • Graduate programs, begun at Bluffton in 1995, currently enroll about 120 students working toward the Master of Arts in Education (MAED), Master of Arts in Business Administration (MBA) and the Master of Arts in Organizational Management (MAOM) degrees. Graduate programs in education, on the Bluffton campus, feature typical semester-long and summer courses while the graduate programs in business are offered in the one-night-per-week cohort model at Archbold, Piqua and Bluffton.

  • Other educational programs
    Post-secondary option courses provide opportunities for high school juniors and seniors from neighboring schools to enroll in select Bluffton classes together with regular college students. They receive college credit from Bluffton that also counts toward their high school graduation requirements. The state of Ohio funds this program.

    Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR) offers non-credit reduced-fee courses as a service to older learners. Since 1991, ILR has offered its courses throughout much of the school year, with participants able to choose to attend topics of interest up to three days a week.

    The Lion & the Lamb Peace Arts Center was founded in 1987 to promote the study of peace and justice, cross-cultural understanding and nonviolent responses to conflict, with an emphasis on these themes for children. Its programs are available to interested individuals and groups from schools, churches and communities throughout the region and beyond. For additional information, please visit

Campus facilities
Bluffton University comprises a main campus in Bluffton, Ohio, with additional teaching sites for adult degree completion and graduate programs at Archbold (60 miles northwest), Findlay (20 miles northeast) and Piqua (60 miles south) in Ohio.

The Bluffton campus itself occupies 234 acres. The 70 acre campus core is partially covered with a natural forest and is bisected by the Little Riley Creek. Physical facilities include 12 major academic and support buildings, seven residence halls and the Emory Sears Athletic Complex. Adjacent is the Bluffton University Nature Preserve with its woodland and grassland trails, a riverine ecosystem and a small lake wildlife habitat.

Governance of Bluffton University
Bluffton is governed by a 27 member (maximum) Board of Trustees. To ensure ongoing connection with the founding denomination, nine of the trustees are appointed by various regional conferences of congregations of Mennonite Church USA, with two others appointed by the denomination's Mennonite Education Agency and representing Mennonite Church USA. Three trustees are appointed by Bluffton alumni and the remainder are appointed by the board itself. The board operates with an Executive Committee and separate committees for oversight of academic affairs, advancement, enrollment management and student life, fiscal affairs and strategic planning/board development. The Board of Trustees employs the university's president, within whom it vests authority for operations of the university.

President's Cabinet
The President's Cabinet constitutes the senior administrative team of Bluffton University and consists of the president plus four vice presidents. The President's Cabinet meets regularly to coordinate campus-wide agenda, make decisions on policy matters of importance to the entire institution and offer counsel on responsibilities that are carried by the president and by individual vice presidents.

    • President is responsible to achieve the mission of Bluffton University as defined by the Board of Trustees. The president determines the university's administrative structure and carries ultimate responsibility for university operations and outcomes, and for assisting the trustees with long-range strategic planning. The president represents the university in many external settings and as legal signatory. In addition to overseeing and coordinating the work of the four vice presidents, the president also supervises the director of athletics.
    • Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs carries responsibility for directing the academic program of the university. As academic dean, this vice president provides leadership with the faculty governance process in shaping Bluffton's curriculum and academic program philosophy, receives advice from the Division Chairs' Council and supervises academic division and department chairs (including adult/graduate education). Other areas of oversight include registrar and student advising functions, libraries, the Learning Resource Center, cross-cultural programs, honors program, assessment, learning technologies, faculty development, The Lion & the Lamb Peace Arts Center, and the adult and graduate education.
    • Vice President for Advancement promotes the university and strengthens relationships with a variety of Bluffton constituencies including alumni, parents, friends, church and business communities. Major responsibilities include overseeing fundraising in support of annual operations, long-term endowment growth and special campaigns for facilities  and program initiatives.  Other areas of oversight include public relations, publications, grant writing, integrated marketing and the Bluffton University Web site.
    • Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Life is responsible to achieve Bluffton's student enrollment goals and to provide overall vision and leadership to Bluffton's student life program. In these roles, this vice president builds important connections between teaching faculty, administrators, students and parents. Areas of administrative oversight include admissions, financial aid and dean of student functions (including student life and residence hall staffs and Marbeck Center operations.) As enrollment manager, this position also carries responsibilities for institutional research. 
    • Vice President for Fiscal Affairs is responsible for long-range financial planning for the university, takes the lead in developing annual operating and capital budgets, and monitors and controls their implementation. As Bluffton's chief fiscal officer, this vice president manages and represents the institution in business transactions, coordinates necessary legal work and assists the Trustees in endowment management. Areas of oversight include business office operations, information technology functions, the buildings and grounds department and the human resources office. As vice president, this role also oversees construction planning and project management.