New programs, research

New programs, research highlighted

Bluffton University faculty members outlined new opportunities for a cross-cultural experience and a master of business administration degree program at a May 3 “faculty showcase,” part of May Day activities on campus.

Dr. Paul Neufeld Weaver, an associate professor of education at Bluffton, discussed a new cross-cultural option for students in Guatemala, while Dr. George Lehman, the Howard Raid professor of business, addressed the development of The Collaborative MBA program.

Joining them at the event was Dr. Martina Cucchiara, an assistant professor of history who shared excerpts from the World War II-era diary of Erna Becker-Kohen, a Jewish German woman. Cucchiara previously presented a campus colloquium about the diary, which she discovered while conducting research last summer in a German archive. A story about the colloquium is online at

The semester-long, cross-cultural experience in Guatemala will commence August 25, when eight students will journey to Guatemala City, the nation’s capital. Leading the program is Dr. Rudi Kauffman, assistant professor of restorative justice.

Students will spend their first eight weeks in the capital, where they will study Spanish through Central America Study and Service (CASAS) and take courses at the Latin American Anabaptist Seminary. They will live with host families during their stay.

Weaver, director of cross-cultural programs at Bluffton as well, said he believes it is important to experience another culture firsthand, not just to read about it. “We believe that in order to be educated, you need to understand the world,” he said, noting, too, that 45 percent of all students in the United States are now non-white.

Weaver’s son, Justin, is a Bluffton junior who will travel to Guatemala for fall semester. “Bluffton University was my window to the world,” added Weaver, a 1981 Bluffton graduate. “I hope for Justin that Bluffton will also be a window to the world.”

In addition to Guatemala, cross-cultural destinations for Bluffton students next academic year will be New Orleans, Bolivia, Haiti, Great Britain, China and Botswana.

The Collaborative MBA program is under development through a joint effort by Bluffton, Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen (Ind.) College. The 36-credit-hour program combines residential and distance-learning courses, and will make extensive use of videoconferencing.

Lehman, also the director of Bluffton’s graduate programs in business, said he had wanted to establish such a program for a long time, but found it difficult to develop support for the project. “Our different organizations’ needs did not mesh,” he said.

But in 2012, he and his colleagues at Eastern Mennonite and Goshen began to do some serious planning. With the help of Dr. Jim Smucker, a Pennsylvania businessman, the three institutions designed the program, conducted fundraising efforts and created a website and promotional materials. They hope 18-20 business and nonprofit professionals will start the program in August.

Lehman added that the program planners met other challenges—which also included an extensive accreditation process—by creating a shared sense of importance among Bluffton, EMU and Goshen. “Programs like this demand a lot of faculty,” he noted, “but we believe that ultimately this collaboration will benefit students and faculty from all of our schools.”

For more information about the two-year program—which consists of 12 courses and seven concentration options—visit


Chay Reigle, public relations office