Bluffton faculty

Faculty awarded grants, sabbaticals

Several Bluffton University faculty members were recognized at the annual Dean’s Reception on April 22 for grants, sabbaticals and other development opportunities that they have been awarded.

Recipients of endowed faculty scholarship grants and Bluffton University Research Center (BURC) grants were announced. Among them is Dr. Gerald Mast, professor of communication, who has received both a Naomi E. Lehman Faculty Scholarship Grant and a BURC grant related to his research of digital communication technology use in conservative and old order Anabaptist communities.

The Lehman grant, which will provide release time to Mast over the next two academic years, will allow him to complete, or nearly complete, a draft manuscript of a book, “Working Around the Internet.” His BURC grant proposal, for research this summer, is titled “How Hutterites Work Around the Internet.”

Currently in the middle of a two-year, Karl B. Schultz Endowed Faculty Scholarship Grant is Dr. Lucia Unrau, professor and chair of music. She is using her release time to study effective arts programs, particularly in Ohio secondary schools, for students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds. From her research will come new approaches for advocacy of arts education.

Also awarded summer 2014 BURC grants—which provide $3,000 and up to $600 for expenses—were:

  • Heather Bruder, assistant professor of sport management and chair of health, fitness and sport science, for “Comprehensive Examination and Statistical Analysis of Institutional Control Surrounding Intercollegiate Athletics in NCAA Division III University Settings”;
  • Dr. J. Walter Paquin, assistant professor of social work, for “Do Black Neighborhoods Remain Stable? Revisiting Black Suburban Neighborhoods”; and
  • Dr. Zachary Walton, assistant professor of communication, for “A Rhetoric of Concern: John Howard Yoder, the Concern Movement, and the Rhetorical Legacy of the Anabaptist Vision.”

Four faculty members have been granted sabbaticals as well, including:

  • Jeff Gundy, professor of English, during spring semester 2015. Gundy will teach literature and writing courses at LCC International University, an English-language university founded in Klaipeda, Lithuania, in 1991 through the joint efforts of Lithuanian, Canadian and American foundations. He will also explore the history and culture of Klaipeda and the surrounding region, with the intention of writing poems and essays stemming from the experience.
  • Dr. Randall Keeler, associate professor of religion, who will serve as a youth ministry resource to the Ohio Mennonite Conference during the full 2014-15 academic year. He will test and evaluate dissertation work on Anabaptist youth ministry, with the intent of writing a book on the subject.
  • Dr. Hamid Rafizadeh, professor of business, also during spring semester 2015. He will search and develop a case for a foundational link between the teachings of Jesus—especially in the Sermon on the Mount—and business world activities, and prepare one or two scholarly articles relative to the outcomes.
  • Dr. Lamar Nisly, professor of English and associate dean of academic affairs, for summer 2014. He will study several texts that seem to show negation—apparent denial of God, in this case—actually as a step toward encountering God. He will write a journal essay and an article for a more general audience based on his work.

Granted a spring 2015 mini-leave—typically a one-course reduction in teaching—was Dr. Donald Hooley, professor of mathematics. He will prepare to teach Calculus 1 in a flipped course format, meaning that material will be presented in some fashion outside class, and class time will be spent helping students work through their questions and problems.

Also among the faculty recognized at the reception were:

  • Dr. Perry Bush, professor of history, as Bluffton’s 2014-15 C. Henry Smith scholar. A committee composed of representatives from Bluffton and Goshen College—where Smith also taught in the early 20th century—selects a scholar to prepare and present a peace lecture on the campuses and in churches. Bush’s topic will be “The Professor as Peacemaker: C. Henry Smith and Mennonite Public Intellectuals, 1918-1948.”
  • Dr. Diana Kleman, assistant professor of social work, who has completed her Ph.D. in social work at The Ohio State University. She successfully defended her dissertation on April1; it was titled “Elementary Classroom Teachers’ Perceptions of and Lived Experiences with Children in Foster Care: A Qualitative Study.”
  • Gregg Luginbuhl, professor and chair of art, who is retiring at the end of this academic year after 30 years at Bluffton and 38 years of college teaching overall. In addition, he has participated in numerous exhibitions and earned many awards for his work as an artist.


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