Opening convocation


Author, educator to help welcome Bluffton class of 2018

BLUFFTON, Ohio—Dr. Ken Bain, whose book, “What the Best College Students Do,” was this year’s summer reading for first-year Bluffton University students, will be the featured speaker Thursday, Aug. 28, as Bluffton welcomes the class of 2018 at its annual opening convocation.

With faculty in regalia looking on, about 245new first-year and transfer students will be introduced during the ceremony, which begins at 10:45 a.m. in the Sommer Center for Health and Fitness Education.

Bain’s presentation, “Deep Learning,” will address how students can get the most out of college by developing a higher purpose. It will also launch Bluffton’s 2014-15 civic engagement theme, “Education Matters! Learning for Life, Vocation and Responsible Citizenship.” Each year, the university focuses on a significant contemporary issue that is related to its mission and becomes the subject of cross-disciplinary exploration. For incoming first-year students, that exploration begins with a summer reading, which, this year, was the 2012 Virginia and Warren Stone Prize-winner as an outstanding book on education and society.

“What the Best College Students Do” was Bain’s follow-up to “What the Best College Teachers Do,” which also won the Stone Prize, in 2004, and was the subject of an award-winning TV documentary series in 2007. Both books were published by Harvard University Press.

Now president of the Best Teachers Institute, Bain spent much of his academic career at Vanderbilt, Northwestern and New York universities. He was founding director of teaching and learning centers at each of the three, and at Montclair (N.J.) State University. His learning research has concentrated on various issues, including deep and sustained learning and the creation of natural critical learning environments.

Bain is also a former professor of history at the University of the District of Columbia—where he was provost and vice president for academic affairs as well—and, earlier, at the University of Texas-Pan American. At the Edinburg, Texas, university, he was founding director of the History Teaching Center, a pioneering program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities to promote greater collaboration between secondary-level history teachers and college and university research historians. From 1984-86, he was director of the National History Teaching Center, which had a similar mission on the national level.

Also the author of three books on the history of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, Bain has won numerous awards—including several major teaching honors—and has presented hundreds of workshops and lectures on six continents.