May Day/Commencement


Traditional end-of-the-academic-year celebration set

Bluffton University will celebrate its annual May Day weekend of festivities May 5-8. The traditional end-of-the-academic-year celebration intertwines the past by hosting alumni reunions, the present by honoring this year's graduates and the future with first-year students performing the traditional Maypole dance. Classes ending in a 6 or 1, and the class of 2015, will celebrate reunions.

The events begin on Thursday, May 5, with the first performance of the May Day Musical, “Curtains” at 7:30 p.m. in Founders Hall. Performances will also take place on Friday, May 6, and Saturday, May 7, at the same time and place.

Also taking place over the four day span is the retrospective exhibit, “Making My Way,” by Gregg Luginbuhl ’71, emeritus professor of art, featuring pottery and ceramic sculpture from his 50-year career. Hours in the Grace Albrecht Gallery in Sauder Visual Arts are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday features a full slate of events. Bluffton University’s annual May Day Run/Walk will start the day. The four-mile race is sponsored by the Bluffton University Alumni Association with support from Bluffton Hospital. Medals will be awarded to the top three finishers in each age/gender bracket. Trophies will be awarded to fastest male and fastest female. Every participant is eligible for a door prize. Check-in starts at 7 a.m. in the Sommer Center with the race beginning at 8 a.m.

At 9:30 a.m., alumni are invited to Yoder Recital Hall to revive their musical energies and share their talent with current students during the Alumni Choir Sing, which is followed by a reception. The Alumni Choir will also gather to sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” to close the May Day ceremony.

A meet-the-artist reception will take place from 10 a.m. to noon with Gregg Luginbuhl ’71, emeritus professor of art, Sauder Visual Arts.

The end of the academic year, the beginning of a new chapter for graduates and the remembrance of times past will be celebrated during the 2016 May Day Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on the Centennial Hall lawn. The event includes the colorful Maypole dance performed by first-year students, crowning of the queen and king and recognition of graduating seniors.

Among the new events on the schedule is a performance of “The King” by critically acclaimed actor John Basinger ’56. The one-character play brings a new twist on Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” The performance will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Ramseyer Auditorium.

Dr. Cynthia Bandish, associate professor of English, will provide context to the play during her faculty showcase titled, “Understanding ‘King Lear.’” The event will take place just before Basinger’s performance at 2:45 p.m. in the Musselman Library Reading Room.

Graduation day, Sunday, May 8, will feature a 10:30 a.m. Baccalaureate in Founders Hall. The religious service will include presentations from graduating seniors, Sarah Dhondt and Jeremy Basinger, who were selected by faculty recommendation.

Bluffton’s 116th Commencement will take place at 2 p.m. in Sommer Center with Sarah Thompson, executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams providing the commencement address.

Thursday, May 5 - Saturday, May 8

  • May Day musical, a production of “Curtains,” the musical comedy whodunit, at 7:30 p.m. each evening in Founders Hall. Tickets, $15 for reserved seats and $5 for open seats, are available online at; for assistance with tickets, call the box office at 419-358-3239.
  • “Making My Way” retrospectiveart exhibit by Gregg Luginbuhl '71, emeritus professor of art, Sauder Visual Arts Center. Hours in the Grace Albrecht Gallery are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Saturday, May 7

  • May Day Run/Walk, 8 a.m. start, Sommer Center. Registration begins at 7 a.m. Visit for registration information.
  • Guided Campus Tours leave every 20 minutes from Marbeck Center, 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 2:30-4:30 p.m.
  • Alumni Choir Sing, 9:30 a.m., Yoder Recital Hall
  • Artist Reception, 10 a.m.-noon, with Gregg Luginbuhl ’71, emeritus professor of art, Sauder Visual Arts
  • Class reunions and May Day lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch will be a buffet in The Commons, Marbeck Center, for alumni through 1999, their families and friends, and a picnic lunch in Burcky Gym for alumni from 2000-15, their families and friends, plus 2016 graduates, their families and current students. Tickets are required; purchase online, at, or at the door.
  • May Day Ceremony, 1:30 p.m., Centennial Hall lawn
  • Faculty Showcase with Dr. Cynthia Bandish, 2:45 p.m., Musselman Library, Reading Room
  • “The King” with John Basinger ’56, 3:30 p.m., Ramseyer Auditorium


Sunday, May 8

  • Baccalaureate, 10:30 a.m., Founders Hall, Dr. Matthew Friesen, assistant professor of sociology, will give the baccalaureate address.
  • Commencement, 2 p.m., Sommer Center, Sarah Thompson, executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams will give the graduation address.