Previous communications

COVID-19 communications

Special announcement: Dec. 16, 2020


We hope you are doing well at home and finding ways to relax after a complex fall. On campus, the COVID-19 Steering Committee and President’s Cabinet met and reviewed the fall semester and the lessons learned. We will continue our conversations and plans for the spring when we are back to campus in January. For now, we want to communicate one significant change to the spring semester return to campus plan so you and your families have time to prepare.

For all students who are enrolling in the spring 2021 semester, you will be required to submit ONE of the following before you move back onto campus (residential students) or attend your first class (commuter students):

  1. Documentation of a COVID-19 positive test result from sometime in the 90 days prior to Jan. 19, 2021.
  2. Documentation of a COVID-19 negative test result performed after Jan 11, 2021.
  3. Documentation of a COVID-19 antibody test with a positive result performed in the 90 days prior to Jan. 19, 2021.
  4. Documentation of being administered a vaccine for COVID-19.

Documentation must show the student’s name and date of test/vaccine and the result. Please blank out any personal information regarding social security number, health ID, insurance ID, etc.

Email proof of documentation to Amber Smith in the Student Life Office at All campus offices will close at the end of the business day on Friday, Dec. 18, and will reopen on Monday, Jan. 4. If you have questions, please contact Amber Smith at You may send emails with your test results during the time campus is closed but any questions will be responded to after Jan. 4.

At this time, students will not be permitted to return to campus without documentation on file with the Student Life Office. However, we also know that being a month away, many things may change between now and Jan 19; including any new directives that may come from the Governor of Ohio.

We do want to encourage everyone to limit your exposure to large gatherings 14 days before you return to campus. This will help ensure a safe and healthy start to the semester.

Please watch your campus emails more frequently starting in January. We plan to update you on the lessons we learned this fall, enhancements to the #ProtectTheDam plan and any other guidance we may get from the State of Ohio or Allen County Health Department. We will primarily communicate this via your university email.

We hope you have a relaxing time away from campus. We miss you and pray for you and your families.

COVID-19 Steering Committee
Dr. Sherri Winegardner, Director of Nursing
Phill Talavinia, Vice President of Student Life and Athletics
Karen Bontrager, President’s Office

Special announcement: Nov. 13, 2020

Dear Bluffton Campus Community,

As we come to the conclusion of Week 13 on campus, I want to share a brief update to my Monday note. I will provide a more thorough update next Friday, as usual, in my bimonthly update.

The past week and weekend, as I indicated on Monday, we experienced an increase in active infections, much as we see happening across the State of Ohio. However, we are now seeing a clear pattern of virus spread primarily within the social circles who were directly exposed from off-campus social gatherings that took place in the last few weeks.  Our campus trend of secondary positive cases (general spread on campus) is remaining low. We continue to be in close touch with the Allen County Department of Health (ACDH).

Student who have gone home to quarantine or isolate should plan to return to campus if their quarantine/isolation period ends prior to the end of the semester.

At this time, we cautiously remain in yellow alert as we are currently seeing a downward trend of new virus cases. Additionally:

  • Please remember that students are responsible for being in touch with their faculty members for any work missed while in quarantine or isolation;
  • A number of students in isolation, quarantine and sheltering in their rooms will emerge from their 14 day quarantine period in the next few days;
  • The daily symptom reporting for the last two days has shown a decrease in symptoms that are COVID-19 related;
  • All students who are COVID-19 positive who opted not to go home for their isolation period continue to be cared for in houses that are off campus;
  • Placing students in quarantine and sheltering in place per contact tracing is following best epidemiological practice and it does not mean that those students are ill or necessarily will become ill;
  • The number of students that we have needed to quarantine this week has decreased, and we have space again on our quarantine floors;
  • Virus cases among faculty and staff continue to be minimal.  

Your good work in continuing to follow the #ProtectTheDam plan (wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, opening windows, daily symptom reporting) appears to be “boxing in,” or containing, the virus spread.

Remember that our ability to continue on with this downward trend depends almost entirely on student behavior. I want to remind students, faculty and staff to limit your exposure this weekend and through the remainder of this semester. Personal behavior is critical to managing virus spread.

All students are expected to continue to report their symptoms daily. This has been the most critical first-point of response.

Be safe, take care, and have a good weekend.

President Wood

Special announcement: Nov. 9, 2020

Dear Bluffton Campus Community,

Since my Friday update to the campus, we have had a few more positive cases of Covid-19 and subsequently more students are entering quarantine.

At this time, we remain at the yellow alert. However, the Covid-19 Steering Committee and the President’s Cabinet are closely monitoring the situation and we will not hesitate to move to red alert, if needed, in the coming days. Please also see the attached flow chart that may help answer some questions that the Covid-19 Steering Committee is receiving.

During contract tracing we have been able to identify several instances of students who left campus over the Halloween weekend to attend large-group gatherings at other campuses or in other cities. This is disappointing, as the actions of a few are now impacting our entire campus community.

I am requesting that all students, faculty and staff use extreme caution in your interactions, as well as limit non-essential events and social gatherings.  We are making the following changes and enhancements to the #ProtectTheDam plan immediately:

  1. Starting today, all student organizations need to conduct meetings and events at an outside location or move to a Zoom format. Classes will remain in person unless we move to red alert. All in-person interactions need to be conducted with masks fully in place and social distancing maintained.
  2. Forum, Colloquium and Chapel will also move to an all virtual format for the next two weeks. More information will be coming separately about Arts and Lecture credits and attendance.
  3. Student athletes and teams who are tested weekly may continue practice, although each team will be even more closely monitored.
  4. We continue to have many more students in quarantine than the number of positive cases on campus. Through contact tracing, we are assigning students to quarantine out of an abundance of caution. The campus quarantine spaces moved to full capacity over the weekend and some students are “sheltering in place” in their rooms. The university is providing on campus testing for the students who are “sheltering in place” in the residence halls, so that we can move any positive students to isolation.
  5. To increase efficiencies, our Covid-19 Steering Committee is supporting the contact tracing efforts along with the Allen County Public Health department. Students should continue to follow the protocol of the #ProtectTheDam plan and Dr. Winegarder will be contacting you if you are named as someone who needs to be contact traced.
  6. All students are expected to report their symptoms daily. This has been the most critical first-point of response for students exhibiting COVID-like symptoms.

Students, we will gently remind you that there are about two weeks left in the semester. It is time to start thinking about your transition back to your families and home communities. We want you to be as healthy as possible as you prepare to leave campus before it closes on Nov. 24. Now is the time to limit your exposure to new social circles, and not put yourself or anyone else at risk by making decisions that increase your exposure in unnecessary ways.

As we approach this time of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the good work that has allowed us to remain living and learning in person so far this semester; let’s work together to finish strong by #ProtectingTheDam and our communities.

President Wood

Biweekly update: Nov. 6, 2020

Dear Bluffton Campus Community,

Congratulations to everyone on successfully reaching the end of Week 12 of the semester! I am very proud of the diligence the campus community has shown this semester to #ProtectTheDam, which has allowed us to continue living and learning on campus.

We remain in the YELLOW alert at this time. However, we have seen an increase in symptomatic individuals this past week. We are currently at fewer than ten positive cases of the virus on campus, but that is almost double the “handful” that has been our “normal” up to this point.

We need everyone to practice extra caution with all of the safety measures below:

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth.
  • Submit your daily symptom monitoring in (faculty and staff please continue your daily monitoring at home prior to coming to work). Submit your symptom monitoring on weekends too!
  • Stay 6 feet apart as much as possible.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Open windows to let air circulate.
  • Remain on campus or in the village as much as possible.
  • Limit social and group activities (especially eating with other people).

Please take care of yourself and each other so that we can all be at our best as we get ready for finals and end of the year projects.

Go Beavers!
President Wood

Biweekly update: Oct.  23, 2020

Dear Bluffton Campus Community,

Congratulations to everyone on successfully reaching the end of Week 10 of the semester! I understand that moving swiftly, without breaks through the semester can be tiring and that we all are feeling the impact of this compressed time.

When we scheduled the semester, not knowing what the future held, we scheduled the minimum allowable time to be in class, and so, unfortunately, we cannot take a “self-care” day or break from formal classes and remain in compliance with our regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). However, Dr. Lamar Nisly is working with faculty to think through some possibilities for individual classes to have some types of “project” days, so please pay close attention to your professors for any changes in the days to come. We also made sure to include breaks in the spring semester calendar, and many thanks to all who reached out and shared their thoughts around scheduling.

We hope that you will take time to enjoy the Homecoming activities that are scheduled to provide fun and stress relief as you cheer on our Volleyball and Football teams tomorrow. Volleyball games are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in Sommer Center.

Food trucks will be in the Sommer Center parking lot from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and free tickets are available to students, faculty, and staff (please, no spouses or children on campus as we continue to #ProtectTheDam).

Tailgating inside Salzman Stadium begins at 1 p.m. as well with many activities there, and kick-off for our football game against Adrian takes place at 1:30 p.m. Masks are required at all events, so please #MaskUp as we enjoy the day and Go Beavers!

As a campus, we are grateful to remain in the YELLOW alert at this time. We still have fewer than a handful of positive cases on campus. However, this week we had a very small number of positive test results in two of our athletic teams. Out of an abundance of caution, we have quarantined both the men’s and women’s basketball teams for 14 days. Please remember that behind every positive test result is a much-cared for member of our community. Whether in isolation or quarantine, we all are part of the cherished community at Bluffton University. For all of our students in quarantine/isolation, we are thinking of you and can’t wait to have you all back fully on campus.

As cases of the virus continue to escalate in Ohio and particularly in our county, it is important for all of us to continue:

  • Wearing masks: over the nose, over the nose, over the nose is how it goes! (With apologies to  Dr. Seuss!)
  • Opening windows—we know that outdoors is safer than indoors. Bring the outdoors in as much as possible, even opening a window a little bit with the heat on as it gets colder.
  • Submit your daily symptom monitoring in (faculty and staff please continue your daily monitoring at home prior to coming to work). Submit your symptom monitoring on weekends too!
  • Stay 6 feet apart as much as possible.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Please practice kindness to one another.

As you may know, yesterday afternoon Governor DeWine moved Allen County to a red county. Allen County is now in the top five counties in the state for rapidly increasing cases and it exceeds the CDC’s threshold for high incidence. Governor DeWine is asking for all Ohioans to use extreme care when considering moving outside your immediate social circle. Community spread from large gatherings, especially indoors, is proving to be the number one driver for virus spread.

As we remain under the YELLOW alert, I want to remind students that you should be remaining on campus, or in the village, wearing masks and following safety protocol, as much as possible. Residential students, if you must leave campus overnight, you need to check in with your RA. If you are ill in any way, please e-mail Dr. Sherri Winegardner at

We need to remain vigilant in our efforts to limit opportunities for exposure and keep each other safe,  as the Allen County Department of Health reminds us below:

While Allen County is in the RED, every decision regarding participation in an activity should be filtered through the following questions:

  • Will all participants present be able to be 6 feet apart from one another?
  • Will participants be wearing face coverings, unless actively eating or drinking?
  • Will hand washing and sanitizing opportunities be readily available?
  • Will cleaning and disinfecting be conducted regularly?

If these measures will not be in place, individuals should reconsider participating in that activity until the spread of COVID-19 subsides in Allen County.

Take good care, and I look forward to seeing many of you #MaskUp at the games and additional Homecoming festivities tomorrow.

Go Beavers!

President Wood

Biweekly update: Oct.  9, 2020

Dear Bluffton Campus Community,

We are now more than half-way through the semester! This past week we continued PCR testing of our student athletes and I am pleased to announce that the results continue to be very encouraging. We continue to have fewer than a handful of students, staff and faculty with positive cases of the virus. 

However, as we still have a few active cases on campus, we remain at Yellow alert.

Please keep up the great job you are doing with the following best practices:

  • Open windows in your residence hall living rooms, dorm rooms, classrooms, and in every space that you can. Leave your car door windows open an inch or two.
  • Wear your mask over your nose—(don’t let your nose get cold!)
  • Submit your daily symptom monitoring in (faculty and staff please continue your daily monitoring at home prior to coming to work). Submit your symptom monitoring on weekends too!
  • Stay 6 feet apart.
  • Wash your hands.

Many thanks to each one of you for all that you are doing to keep our campus as safe as possible so that we can continue living and learning in person.

President Wood

Biweekly update: Sept. 25, 2020

Dear Bluffton Campus Community,

As we get ready to finish week six of the semester, I continue to be proud of all of our students. This past week we began random PCR testing of our student athletes and it is so good to announce that the results were very encouraging. We still have fewer than a handful of students, staff, and faculty with positive cases of the virus at this time. We remain at Yellow alert.

Congratulations to the women of 2nd floor Bren-Dell for winning the Chipotle Challenge! The Chipotle Challenge continues for commuter students. All students need to submit your symptom monitoring check on the weekends too.

As cooler weather will be coming soon, and we know that being indoors is not as statistically safe for contagion as being outdoors, please continue to “make the inside as much like the outside” as possible.

  • Open windows in your residence hall living rooms, dorm rooms, classrooms, and in every space that you can. Leave your car door windows open an inch or two.
  • Wear your mask over your nose—(don’t let your nose get cold!)
  • Submit your daily symptom monitoring in (faculty and staff please continue your daily monitoring at home prior to coming to work). Submit your symptom monitoring on weekends too!
  • Stay 6 feet apart.
  • Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.

Together, let us continue the momentum that has allowed us to #ProtectTheDam, and remain living and learning on our beautiful campus.

President Wood

Biweekly update: Sept. 10, 2020

Dear Bluffton Campus Community,

As we get ready to finish week four of the semester, I am so grateful and thankful for the good work of our campus community. We continue to have fewer than a handful of individuals awaiting Covid-19 test results and/or quarantining as a result of exposure to the coronavirus.

While this is overall positive news, we do remain in the Yellow alert phase of our #ProtectTheDam plan.

In order to keep our campus healthy, please continue to:

  • Submit your daily symptom monitoring in (faculty and staff please continue your daily monitoring at home prior to coming to work)
  • Wear your mask (over your nose!)
  • Remain 6 feet apart
  • Open windows (even in cars, try and open the window at least a few inches)
  • Wash your hands

Again, my thanks to this campus community for another two weeks of keeping our campus as safe as possible and #ProtectingTheDam so that we can remain together.

President Wood

Biweekly update: Aug. 28, 2020

Dear Bluffton Campus Community,

We are finishing week two of our semester today, and I want to say both thank you and congratulations to our community.

Although we have had a few active cases of the virus from asymptomatic testing, and a small number from symptomatic testing, overall we had fewer positive cases this week than upon our testing two weeks ago.

The good news is that all of the efforts that we are undertaking are working. Dr. Winegardner, the sports medicine team, and others are being vigilant in following up with every student who has any sort of symptom, and they are taking every precaution.

Also, please remember that some people may be asymptomatic, so continuing the following preventative measures protects all of us:

  • Wearing your masks
  • Students, continuing your daily symptom monitoring in (faculty and staff please continue your daily monitoring at home prior to coming to work)
  • Staying 6 feet apart
  • Opening windows (even in cars)
  • Washing your hands

Dr. Winegardner also wanted me to let everyone know that we are possibly seeing another small “bug” on campus that has some of the symptoms of Covid-19, but when students are tested they are negative for the coronavirus. The symptoms of the small “bug” seem to resolve in a few days on their own. However, it is important that any symptoms continue to be reported to Dr. Winegardner so that we can provide the care that you may need. If you have any questions, please continue to reach out to Dr. Winegardner at the Student Health Center. She shares that she has had encouraging interactions with many students already about the symptom monitoring checks, as well as other healthcare questions and needs.

Many thanks to each one of you, faculty, staff, and students, for your vigilance and care in #ProtectingTheDam. Let’s continue this good work so that we can continue on-campus living and learning as Beavers All.

President Wood


Dear Bluffton Campus Community, 

As you know, per the NCAA Resocialization Guidelines, we tested all student athletes upon their return to campus, as well as the “inner-bubble” of coaches and athletic staff. We now have the results in hand. Out of approximately 400 individuals who were recently tested, a very small number tested positive for COVID-19.

At the advice of the Allen County Department of Health, we are not sharing exact numbers, as our campus is so small we need to protect our campus members’ right to privacy, and so instead we will be sharing a “range.” Since we have resumed full campus life with students returning, the tests confirm that at this time we have a handful of students, faculty, and staff who have tested positive for active cases of the virus.

Per our #ProtectTheDam plan and our color alert system, because we now have active cases on campus, we will move into the yellow alert. We will remain in yellow alert throughout the semester as long as any student, staff or faculty member is in quarantine or isolation and we do not have indicators that would move us to a different alert.

We are grateful for the good work of the athletics staff, coaches and our student athletes who quarantined before they came to campus so that we had could start the year as safely as possible. A huge thank you to our student athletes for following the guidelines, and to students, staff and faculty for your good work as we continue to be actively engaged in the practices that will allow us to continue in-person campus living and learning:

  • Wearing masks
  • Opening windows
  • Staying six feet apart
  • Washing hands
  • Avoiding large gatherings

Our campus response plan prepared us for positive cases and those impacted will follow their medical plans. If you have been exposed by an individual who tested positive, you will be contacted by the Allen County Department of Health through contact tracing. Remember, exposure means that you had sustained contact with a person who has tested positive for more than 15 minutes of interaction at a distance of less than 6 feet.

Our residential students who tested positive will isolate in our rental houses or return home for the two weeks until they are released, either by their home county department of health or our Allen County Department of Health. Their roommates will move into quarantine (or move home, per their Health Plans) for the 10 to 14 days necessary to determine whether they will develop symptoms. Any commuting students, faculty or staff, will quarantine and/or isolate at home. So far our plan is working, and we will continue to follow our carefully laid-out plans.

Please feel free to reach out virtually to those who are in quarantine (have been exposed to someone who is COVID-positive) or isolation (COVID-positive). Both those in quarantine and/or isolation may be symptom-free and look forward to text exchanges, email messages, and Zoom conversations. The university will be monitoring those in isolation and quarantine, so do not visit them in person. If one of your friends needs something while in isolation or quarantine such as a book or ice-cream, please contact the Student Affairs staff to help.

Please review the Color Alert Plan now that we are in yellow alert and note areas of changes. For students, now that we are in the yellow alert, you should leave overnight only if absolutely necessary and check out with an RA. Ohio has travel advisories to other states and while we do not encourage you to visit these states, if you were to go to a state on the list, you will need to self-quarantine upon your return. The list of states are updated each week; please contact Student Affairs if you have questions about which states are on the travel advisory list.

Also, please keep in mind that we have many students and employees who were either directly or indirectly impacted by COVID-19 over the summer. We have some students still at home because they are quarantining with family who tested positive and they will be arriving on campus as soon as they are released by their county health department. We also have some students on campus who are self-quarantining because they know people from home who are in the process of being tested or have tested positive in recent days.

Together, we are living and learning in a community of respect. Together, we will continue to #ProtectTheDam because we are Beavers All.

President Wood




It is also our priority to be able to provide an intercollegiate athletics experience for our student-athletes and our campus communities, even during this time. Athletic practice and competitive play is important for the physical and mental health of our students. We believe this can be done through our safer return to athletics plan.

For most of Bluffton University’s athletes, this means they will essentially have a split-season experience with practices in the fall, with possible competition with regional schools, and a spring practice and conference game schedule.

What does that means for fall athletics and fans? >




From the beginning of March, we have been seeking advice and rethinking our operations with safety in mind. Each Vice President has put together a scenario planning team that is configuring each of their areas with the CDC guidelines and the Ohio Department of Health Guidelines in mind. There are a number of additional key strategies that will help us maintain vibrancy and safety that I would like to share with you.

Our decisions have been guided by our educational mission, including our enduring values of discovery, community, respect and service.

Please learn about Bluffton’s Return To Campus plan at

We are launching our #ProtectTheDam awareness campaign to educate all our students and their families on our safety protocols included in our return to campus plan. The #ProtectTheDam plan includes a “green, yellow, and red” color system for ways we will all live and learn during this time. A colored alert bar at the top of will be updated daily so you are aware of our campus community status.

General Guidelines for Students and the #ProtectTheDam plan can be found at

Although we cannot predict what the future will hold for our campus, we believe that the safety measures that we are adopting in conjunction with a wide variety of best practices documents, including, but not limited to, the CDC Guidelines for Institutes of Higher Education, The Responsible RestartOhio: Higher Education Minimum Operating Standards and Recommended Best Practices, ACHHA Guidelines for Considerations for Reopening Institutions of Higher Education in the Covid-19 Era, and others provides us with solid preventative measures.

Please e-mail with questions that you have as you prepare to return to campus.

We look forward to seeing you soon and Go Beavers!

Go Beavers!

President Jane Wood


Dear Bluffton Campus Community,

As I shared in my update in April, teams of faculty and staff have been actively planning since March for the important ways that we will welcome students to campus for the fall 2020 semester and keep our campus community as healthy as possible.

There are a number of additional key strategies that will help us maintain vibrancy and safety that I would like to share with you. First, I have called together a Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) that I am chairing and that is comprised of leaders from Bluffton Village, Allen County Health Department, Bluffton Exempted Village Schools, Blanchard Valley Hospital, and Dr. Sherri Winegardner, Bluffton University Director of Nursing and Associate Professor. This group will serve as our advisory and consulting group for all of our planning and implementation.

Second, another important committee also has been formed, the Student Health and Covid-19 Steering Committee. Dr. Winegardner will be chairing this committee as the project manager, and Mr. Phill Talavinia, and Karen Bontrager from the President’s Office will be leading this action-focused committee. This committee will form sub-committees, including students (when they return), staff, faculty, and community members to implement the action plans that already have begun to be shaped. These action plans will help keep our campus community informed and educated as together we put into place best practices for campus-wide health and safety.

Our planning teams already have been designing how we can safely begin in-person classes and welcome our students into the residence halls. As we work with through the final details, and wait for formal guidelines that should be coming soon from the State of Ohio, I want to announce the following updates that we have confirmed so students, families and faculty can plan accordingly:

  • Bluffton University will return to on-campus living and learning for the fall semester on Aug. 17 for traditional undergraduates. This moves the start date of the fall semester up by two weeks and allows students to finish fall semester classes by Thanksgiving break, with some finals completed remotely after Thanksgiving. Students will not return to campus for the spring semester until January. We believe this minimizes the risk of virus spread from students, faculty and staff travel during the holidays.  
  • First-Year Students will move in on Friday, Aug. 14. The Residence Life office is working on a staggered arrival time plan to incorporate social distancing best practices. More information will come by Aug. 1.
  • Fall student athletes and student support staff for fall teams. Please watch for details to come from your coaches for your respective report times. At this time football will still report to campus Aug. 12 as originally scheduled.
  • Returning Students will move in Aug. 15-16. The Residence Life office is working on a staggered arrival time plan to incorporate social distancing best practices. More information will come by Aug. 1.
  • Fall Semester Traditional Undergraduate Classes will begin on Monday, Aug. 17.
  • Master’s program and degree completion program start dates will remain as normally scheduled.
  • Classes will be held on Labor Day, as usual.
  • There will be no Fall Break this year. Elements of The Great Adventure for first-year students will be incorporated into the first-year course and will occur without travel.
  • Finals will be wrapped around the week of Thanksgiving and details will come from faculty for each class.

Another change is that we will have professional cleaning staff cleaning in the residence halls and campus buildings. We will still have campus Learn and Earn positions for students who have previously worked in custodial services, but due to Covid-19, we are going to be extremely careful about allowing students to support cleaning as they have done in the past. Campus positions are still available for students who are interested in applying for a job on campus and you can find more information online at Learn and Earn campus jobs

Dr. Sherri Winegardner, director of our nursing program, will be revitalizing our on-campus Student Health Center. Bluffton University recognizes access to health care throughout the academic year as an essential social determinant of health for our student community. Based on the excellent work and recommendations of the Student Health Task Force and feedback from students, we have decided to re-establish an on-campus student health center.

The task force convened in October of last year and was charged with conducting a comprehensive review of options for addressing student health needs. We are in the early stages of planning, and our center will not look the same as our previous offering. However, our goal for the health center is to provide on-campus access to consultative resources and guidance to assist students in managing day-to-day health concerns. In addition, a new student health webpage will be developed to offer easy access to a listing of local healthcare providers and resources for students to use in managing their health care needs proactively. All students will need to provide proof of health insurance before they return to campus. For questions about health insurance, student-athletes should contact Kim Schimmoeller ( and non-athletes should contact Amber Smith (

I want to share my appreciation with the faculty and staff who are working in creative ways to ensure that we can provide a true collegiate experience for our students while also following guidelines from the State of Ohio, Health Departments and local health care providers. We will be in touch again before June 30 with the full return to campus plan.

Be well, take good care, and we look forward to seeing you back on campus on Aug. 17, if not before.

Go Beavers!

President Jane Wood



As we near the end of the 2020 spring semester, I wanted to reach out with gratitude and appreciation for all that students, faculty and staff have accomplished in the last few weeks. With new recommendations emerging almost daily, our ability to adapt and continue our educational mission in the light of a rapidly changing world speaks to our resilience and the strength of our entire campus community.

Updates for the end of the academic year >

I also write to share with you that as we ready ourselves to conclude this semester, we are looking forward to fall 2020 with hope and anticipation. We plan to follow our usual practice, which is to welcome our first year students to Bluffton University during Welcome Week (beginning August 28) and look forward to having all of our returning students back on campus by no later than the start of the regular academic year on Monday, August 31. As we all are learning to live with the new realities that are quickly becoming a part of everyday life, we also have increased knowledge of how to keep our campus community functioning and safe as we move forward. We are paying close attention to federal and state guidelines regarding best practices for health and safety as well as partnering with our local Allen County health officials. Bluffton University is committed to continuing to provide our students with our stellar community-based residence life experience, while they also are participating in our highly-ranked academic and athletic programs.

In order to be fully ready for a return to campus life that is as normal as possible, Bluffton University has been busy planning for resuming campus life. Because we have very few classes of more than twenty students, we are confident that we can provide face to face learning even if we are still required to practice social distancing. We also know that if we need to “learn in place,” the past semester has shown us how we can best move back and forth between remote learning and in-person learning if that need arises. We are grateful to have Bluffton Hospital, which is part of the Blanchard Valley Health System, as well as a walk-in clinic operated by Mercy Health within walking distance of our campus. We are working with local and state officials as together we determine the types of pre-testing and ongoing testing that might be needed in ensure the safety of all of our students.

We are anticipating a vibrant bunch of new Beavers this fall and can’t wait to see them racing their canoes during Freshman Olympics at the Nature Preserve pond.  We also can’t wait to see all of our returning students back on campus and in the residence halls as we continue to prepare students for “life as well as vocation.” A liberal arts education is designed to shine light into all aspects of life. Bluffton University, as a faith-based University, looks forward with certainty and trust in all that we know and that which we will discover. We are BEAVERS All!

Blessings for the journey ahead,

President Wood



We will hold Move Out on May 6-9 for students to return to campus and move out of their residence halls, return their keys, rented text books, instruments, pick up mail, etc. The Student Life Office will send an e-mail to all students with specific details of how and when the move out process will work.

It is still our plan and our intent to hold an in-person graduation for the 2020 class. We have a scenario planned for holding Commencement on Saturday, July 18, for those able to attend. Once we get confirmation from the Governor on large gatherings, we will communicate final details with seniors. Caps and gowns are on campus and all seniors will get them in time for graduation. Please know that based on regulations, there could be a ticket limit for guests per graduate. The event will be live streamed for all family and friends. If we are not able to hold Commencement on Saturday, July 18, our back-up date will be after Homecoming, on Sunday, October 11. We are looking forward to an extra-special celebration of our seniors and their families.

The Business Office is working to confirm the calculations from the last six weeks of pro-rated room and board that will be refunded (to seniors) and credited to returning students, assuming there is no outstanding balance owed. All room and board credits will be posted to student accounts between May 1 and May 15. If you have questions or want to confirm your contact information, including direct deposit is correct, please e-mail 

As part of the CARES Act, Bluffton University will receive funds from the Federal Government that are intended to be passed along to enrolled students who suffered disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each institution is given the authority to determine how best to allocate these funds to its students based upon the impact to its campus. As we understand that for undergraduate residential students there would have been additional travel costs in coming to and from the residence halls multiple times, as well as costs for setting up learning environments at home, and for traditional, undergraduate face to face commuter students there also could have been additional costs for setting up learning environments at home, Bluffton University is issuing the following amounts directly to students: All undergraduate residential students enrolled full-time as of March 18, 2020, will receive $500 per student and traditional undergraduate commuters will receive $200 per student. According to Federal guidelines, international students and DACA students are not eligible for the direct stimulus money. When the university receives this money, funds will be distributed as directed by the Department of Education.

Additionally, for students returning to campus next academic year, there will be some additional emergency relief aid available for students who have increased financial need because of the impact that COVID-19 has had on their personal or family’s financial situation. We are working to confirm a process for how to apply for this aid; please be watching for more details. 



Dear Bluffton Campus Community,

As I write this from my desk looking out over the College Hall lawn, my heart goes out to each and every one of you with deep gratitude for continuing to live out the mission of Bluffton University during these turbulent times.

Bluffton University remains open and operational, while observing the guidelines for virtual working and learning environments as we begin a new order from Governor DeWine to “stay at home”. Gandhi tells us that “[a] small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history” and this campus community is continuing our mission even as we stay at home and save lives.

From students and faculty who are together navigating remote learning, including our IT and library staff members who have worked diligently to make sure that everyone can access platforms and resources, and others like the LRC who continues to tutor students regularly, and so many more, we are demonstrating an unquenchable faith in Bluffton University. Thank you all for your patience, your grace and your caring for and about one another.

As much as all of us would like to come back physically to campus yet this spring, in light of the Governor’s new order to “stay at home” and the increasing number of coronavirus cases nationally and the climbing number in Ohio, and our desire to keep the Bluffton Village community safe as well as abiding by guidelines to protect our most vulnerable citizens, it does not seem possible at this time. As we work together to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus:

  • Bluffton University will remain open and operational to support our students who are learning remotely as well as the few students who remain on campus. Almost all of our faculty and staff are working from home, but there are a few essential employees who will be on campus practicing social distancing and the other guidelines recommended by the CDC and Governor DeWine’s office and in accordance with the “stay at home” order.
  • Bluffton University will continue with remote learning for the rest of the semester. We are doing our best to support our students and families during this time, so please see below for additional information about financial adjustments.
  • The Student Life Office will be in touch with you after April 13 to coordinate times for you to pick up anything left in your dorm room. Your rooms will remain locked and all of your things are perfectly safe for as long as you would like to leave them there for the spring semester.
  • The Heartland Athletic Collegiate Conference (HCAC) officially cancelled spring contests. For our senior student athletes, I am so sorry that you are not able to compete. However, the NCAA has granted an additional year of eligibility for any senior student who would like to return for additional learning and compete with your team. Interested students should talk with Mr. Phill Talavinia or Ms. Kim Schimmoeller about possibilities to add an additional major or begin a graduate degree.
  • We will need to postpone in-person Commencement until we can safely gather together. Seniors, although we are postponing graduation, delaying our celebration will not delay your degree. Please send me any feedback that you may have as to the best potential times for rescheduling at

A few important additional updates/clarifications are below.


Bluffton University will take the following actions to reflect the shortened period most students will use University housing and meal plans during the spring 2020 semester:

  • Prorated housing credits will be placed on student accounts for the period of time students are unable to return to their campus housing. These credits will roll over to the next academic year for returning students. If the student will not be living in University housing during fall 2020, the credit will be applied to tuition charges for the next academic year.
  • Balances of both General Meal Plans and Beaver Bucks will roll over to the next academic year. The University is waiving all current limitations on the amount that may be rolled over.
  • Those students who were granted approval to remain on campus during this time and continue to live in University housing will not be eligible for the credit and/or roll over.
  • Seniors graduating in May will receive a prorated housing and meal plan credit on their student account. The credits will first apply to any outstanding balance owed to the University. If the account balance is paid in full at graduation, the University will issue a refund to the student in the weeks following.
  • There will be no financial credit provided for tuition since faculty instruction continues on a remote basis.
  • The housing credit and meal plan rollover is null and void if the student does not return in fall 2020; this excludes graduating seniors.
  • As explained above, all financial credits will be applied in the June 2020 billing cycle.

Should the State or Federal Government make any new decisions regarding reimbursement to college and university students, we reserve the right to modify these adjustments.

If you have questions, please call or contact Art Woodruff at 419-358-3320 or email at We would also ask for your patience and support as we work through this process together; it is the first time in the history of the University that we have attempted this type of financial adjusting on such a large scale.


Last Thursday evening, Dr. Paul Neufeld Weaver, director of global education, met with students registered to participate in May cross-cultural experiences to update them on our evolving plans.  At this point, we are planning that the experiences in Germany, Arizona and Kentucky will be moved to later in the summer. The Greece experience is being cancelled. The August Guatemala experience is still scheduled as planned.  Students will be working with Paul and Elaine Suderman to determine how the adjusted dates work for them or to make alternative plans. Any questions should be directed to Paul Neufeld Weaver.


We have made the decision to cancel all May Day events scheduled for Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2. The alumni office plans to explore possibilities for some Virtual May Day activities to honor this venerable Bluffton tradition. 

Bluffton University remains open and operational, while observing the stay at home guidelines for virtual working and learning environments, and we will continue to be in contact with one another throughout the rest of the semester, as together we learn and cultivate that which we know to be honest, good and true.

Blessings to you and your family as we continue to stay in touch while we stay at home.

President Jane Wood



Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Based on the increasing recommendations by Governor DeWine and today’s recommendation by The President of the United States to reduce group gatherings to 10 people or less, Bluffton University is taking the following actions:

  • All classes will continue to be held via online/remote learning methods through April 12. We are suspending all other athletic-related activities, including practice and intra-squad games of traditional and non-traditional teams, until further notice. We will continue to evaluate whether it will be possible for everyone to return to campus following Easter break to finish out the semester, including a modified plan for Commencement.
  • The university requests that all students return to their primary residence. We are closing our traditional residence halls, with move-out to be complete by no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 18. You do not have to take everything home at this time, but you can if you choose to do so. Once you leave campus, you may not return until residence halls reopen.  

We understand that for some students the university is their primary home. We will work with students who have extenuating circumstances to provide continuity of housing and services. If you believe you must stay on campus, please contact Tyson Goings, director of residence life.

  • While the university will continue its business operations, more university faculty and staff will begin to work remotely from home as roles and timing permit. More information will come from your vice president this evening. Understanding this affects student workers as well, student employment will end today as of 5 p.m., unless you are contacted by your supervisor at a later date. Some students may be able to work remotely.
  • As of Wednesday at 5 p.m., the majority of buildings on campus will limit public access and visitors.

While I know that this is disappointing news for all of us, we want to comply with the State and Federal recommendations to keep students, faculty, staff, and community safe.

We are a people of hope and we continue to lift each other up in prayer as we stay connected in the journey ahead.

President Jane Wood 



Additional information for students and staff posted below.


To the Bluffton University Campus Community:

As I mentioned in my note to you yesterday afternoon, Governor DeWine held a press conference where he strongly recommended that all higher education institutions in Ohio move to remote learning for classes as soon as possible for a period of time. The full list of recommendations can be found at In addition, he asked that all large events, such as indoor sports and other performance events, be canceled.

Bluffton University, in alignment with Governor DeWine’s recommendations, has established the following plan to protect its students, employees, visitors and the Bluffton community.

As a residential campus, Bluffton University recognizes that some students do not have the ability to return home and therefore the university will remain open, including student support services, the Learning Resource Center, academic resources, residence and dining facilities, athletic and recreation facilities. Beginning today, the university is implementing a plan for remote learning options.

The following measures will be implemented immediately and will extend through Easter Break (Monday, April 13). We will continue to evaluate new information as it develops and share updates as they become available.

Academic classes and coursework:


  • Face-to-face classes will be in session on Thursday, March 12, to help with the transition to remote learning. However, we urge students to make choices that are best for their own personal health situations. Students are responsible for notifying professors if a student decides it is not in their best interest to be in class on Thursday. Students are responsible for making up the work that they miss. 
  • All classes are canceled for Friday, March 13, to allow faculty to prepare for remote teaching and learning.
  • Beginning on Monday, March 16, through Monday, April 13, academic coursework will take place in an online format and/or remote options (for example, Moodle, Zoom, etc.)
  • Clinical and off-campus learning placements will continue at this time and students should follow the protocols of the facility where they are working. Classroom experiences such as labs, studio art and performance classes are still being evaluated and additional information will come from your professors.
  • Students will receive additional information on how to transition to remote learning in the days ahead, including what this means for Arts and Lecture credits.
  • We continue to evaluate the May Cross-Cultural experiences and we will communicate with those students and faculty as additional information becomes available.
  • Students and faculty who have questions about these measures should contact Dr. Lamar Nisly, vice president and dean of academic affairs.


Guidance for students:


To-go food boxes: On Monday, March 16, Bluffton Dining Services will have to-go food boxes available for your convenience and safety. The Commons remains open for dining in, however, please use social distancing and practice preventative hygiene.

Zoom on-line learning platform: Professors may decide to host live-streamed video class meetings using our Zoom platform. While there are many ways to connect to a Zoom meeting, the most reliable way is via Zoom’s software, available for all major computer and mobile platforms, as well as browser plug-ins for Chrome and Firefox. We’d recommend that you install the software while you are still on campus using this link. While we expect the installation to be smooth and simple, installing while on campus means we can help you should you run into challenges. If you have any questions, feel free to stop by the Tech Center or e-mail Chris Gott at

Class schedule: During this transitional time of remote learning, the intent is to preserve the current structure of class times. For example, if your class usually met from 9-9:50 a.m. MWF, you need to plan to attend class on-line at that time unless told differently by your professor. You should not schedule work or other activities during the times when you normally have class. If you have questions contact Dr. Lamar Nisly, vice president and dean and academic affairs.

This afternoon Governor DeWine did close all K-12 public and private schools starting next Tuesday, April 3. This does not impact our plan at Bluffton University. Campus remains open and remote classes will begin Monday. Please continue to watch your e-mail for additional updates.


  • While completing classes remotely, students may choose to return to their permanent place of residence or stay in their on-campus housing.
  • Students who choose to move home during this time need to check out with their hall director before Friday at 5 p.m. Students who leave campus should not return to campus residence halls prior to April 14.
  • For students who remain on campus, the university encourages taking enhanced preventative public health and hygiene measures and encourages social distancing as described by the World Health Organization.
  • If students are staying on campus and become ill with flu-like symptoms contact the Student Life Office at 419-358-3247.    
  • Students workers should speak with their supervisor about their campus job.
  • Students who have questions about housing and campus life should contact Phill Talavinia, interim vice president for student life, director of athletics.


Guidance For Faculty:


  • Faculty should immediately begin preparation to deliver courses remotely beginning Monday, March 16 (Moodle, Zoom and other online platforms).
  • Training sessions and workshops will be offered on Friday, March 13, for faculty; more information will come from the Academic Affairs Office.
  • Faculty may continue to use their offices and campus facilities while delivering courses remotely and may continue to meet with students individually during this period.


Guidance For Staff:


As we continue to serve our students, we do need all employees to be present to continue campus services. However, this afternoon Governor Mike DeWine announced that all K-12 schools will be closed for three weeks starting no later than end of the day on Monday; some districts will close earlier. We understand that some employees will have a demonstrated need for flexibility. Those employees should talk with their vice president to create a work flow plan as indicated in President Wood’s message on March 11. During this mandated three week period with K-12, the university is flexing current policies to allow for alternative work hours and the use of sick, vacation or personal hours. All impacted employees will need to develop a written work plan with their vice president.


  • The university is open during this time period. Staff are expected to report to campus for work. Sick time should continue to be used per the Employee Handbook. 
  • Bluffton will provide work-at-home flexibility to employees who are at high-risk (i.e. chronically ill or immuno-compromised prior to this outbreak, or have a need to work remotely due to personal matters related to the COVID-19). Employees should talk with their vice president to establish a work plan.
  • Vice presidents will communicate with each division for additional work-flow plans by Friday, March 13.


Campus Events and Meetings:


  • Effective today, Wednesday, March 11, the university is canceling all large indoor gatherings (any group of 20 or more) and public events until April 13; this includes student organization events and use of university facilities by off-campus groups (for example, conference rentals). 
  • We are asking all university groups and employees to suspend meetings that include 20 or more participants, or these groups should meet in a virtual capacity when possible, including student organizations.
  • Outdoor sports (baseball, softball, track and field, golf) will continue at this time. Indoor team practice will not be permitted, including non-traditional (off-season) practices that happen indoors. Small group/individual practices may continue indoors under the supervision and guidance of coaches and in direct consultation with the athletic director. We remain in communication with the Commissioner of the Heartland Conference who is continuing to monitor the situation across the NCAA and we will evaluate developments as they occur.




  • Effective immediately and until April 13, all university-sponsored international travel is suspended. This includes new travel as well as any currently planned trips.
  • University-sponsored domestic travel must be approved by the appropriate vice president. This includes new travel as well as any currently planned trips between now and April 13.
  • Travelers returning from Level 3 warning countries are required to report their exposure to the Allen County Health Department and to observe a 14-day period of self-quarantine and monitoring.

Bluffton University’s Cabinet and Campus Emergency Response Task Force continue to evaluate risk and develop contingency plans, working directly with the Allen County Health Department and following the guidelines of the CDC and local, state, and federal authorities.

As a reminder, below are recommendations from the Campus Emergency Response Task Force:
  • If you are running a temperature it is recommended that you see a doctor or physician assistant. Please take everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill or exhibit symptoms of infection

I recognize that this is a deeply disruptive time in our world. Bluffton is a caring community, and I invite us to come together and support our efforts to follow the Governor’s recommendations and continue to live out Bluffton’s educational mission in all that we do. We will continue to provide official updates via email and the webpage.

Let’s hold our campus community in prayer as we journey through this time together.

President Jane Wood