New Faculty and Staff


Bluffton Welcomes New Faculty and Staff

Five faculty members are joining the Bluffton University community this academic year along with more than 20 new staff members and graduate assistants.

New faculty for the 2016-17 academic year are Christina Bender, speech language pathology and audiology; Melissa Green, business; Howard Keim, business; Jamie Lyn Smith, English; and Sherri Winegardner, nursing.

Bender is the director of Bluffton’s new speech language pathology and audiology program where she is also an assistant professor. Bender comes to Bluffton from St. Rita’s Medical Center where she was a speech language pathologist in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Bender also worked as a speech language pathologist in the department of rehabilitation services at The Ohio State University Medical Center. She’s given multiple presentations and has conducted research on traumatic brain injury, voice management and dysphagia intervention. Bender received her Bachelor of Science and her Master of Health Sciences degrees from the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Green is the director of graduate programs in business and is an associate professor of business. She has worked in higher education for more than 30 years and, most recently, was the associate vice president of the Findlay-area campus at Owens Community College. She held the positions of vice president of student affairs and institutional advancement at Rhodes State College, assistant director of the Lima campus of The Ohio State University and assistant director of admissions at Ohio Northern University. Green earned her undergraduate degree from ONU, master’s degree from Ashland and Ph.D. in higher education administration from Ohio University.

Dr. Keim will serve as senior lecturer in business particularly in the MBA and business completion programs. He has devoted his life to serving Mennonite church institutions and is spending his first year of retirement by returning to the classroom after serving as president of Hesston College in Kansas for the past 11 years. Before that, he was a vice president and dean at Tabor College and field services director for Communities in Schools of Kansas. Keim also taught upper level and graduate courses at Tabor College and The University of Kansas. He has an associate degree from Hesston College, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Central Michigan University and a Ph.D. in communication studies from the University of Kansas.

Smith is an assistant professor of English and will direct Bluffton’s new literary journal. After working as a production manager and master electrician in theatre in both Los Angeles and New York City, Smith became a high school teacher. She also did education and outreach work for New Directions Domestic Abuse Shelter and later coordinated a GED preparation program in Columbus. Most recently, she was a member of the faculty of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. Smith earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from The Ohio State University, a master’s degree in education from Fordham University and a bachelor’s degree with majors in English and drama from Kenyon College.

Dr. Winegardner is the director of Bluffton’s new nursing program and is an associate professor. She comes to Bluffton from Brown Mackie College where she was program administrator for the associate of applied science nursing program and associate program administrator for the practical nursing program. Before that, Winegardner worked at Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay for 30 years, where she served in various roles including director of critical care services and director of nursing. She has also served as vice president of clinical services at Baton Rouge Senior Health Services Community, director of health services at the Heritage and as a case manager for Centene Corporation. Winegardner graduated with a BSN from Bluffton’s original nursing program in 1991. She earned a Master of Science in nursing from Medical College of Ohio in Toledo, a Master of Science in health care administration from University of Phoenix and a doctor of nursing practice from Duquesne University. 

Staff members new to Bluffton since last September are: Tricia Bell, content manager; Siera Bruggeman, admissions marketing coordinator; Adam Craig, men’s and women’s golf coach; Deanna Haan, campus visit leader/transfer coordinator; Wendy Helmig, graphic designer; Robin Hopkins, director of undergraduate admissions; Michael Hummer, database administrator; Kaitlyn Kerr, admissions counselor; James Kusak, men’s soccer coach; Chelsey Lloyd, admissions counselor; Lawrence Matthews, development associate; and Samantha Shrider, interim admissions counselor.

New graduate assistants in athletics are Taylor Ellis, baseball; Ta-Rel Franklin, men’s basketball; Breanna Gleason, softball; Samantha Harshbarger, athletic trainer; Jared Krout, track and cross country; Jonathan Sandwisch, football; Bradley Swavel, football/baseball; and Shanna Thompson, women’s basketball.

Elijah Herman is a graduate intern from Bowling Green State University serving in Hirschy Hall.