May Day Weekend events


May Day/Commencement calendar

Bluffton University will celebrate its annual May Day weekend of festivities May 4-6. 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 an 8 or 3 and the class of 2017 will celebrate reunions.

The events begin on Friday, May 4, with the Juried Student Art Exhibition in Sauder Visual Arts Center. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

At 4 p.m., members of the class of ’68 can attend a reception and dinner in Marbeck Center while the class of ’78 can attend a reception and dinner in Sommer Center at 4:30 p.m.

The first performance of the May Day Musical, “[Title of Show]” will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Yoder Recital Hall. A performance will also take place on Saturday, May 5, at the same time and place. Tickets are available for purchase at

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. 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 brunch event will be held for the class of ’73 at 11 a.m. in Houshower House.

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 2018 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. A reception for alumni, graduates and families will follow.

From 2:30-4 p.m., a retirement reception will be held for Dr. James M. Harder, president, in the lobby of Yoder Recital Hall.

Graduation day, Sunday, May 6, will feature Baccalaureate at 10:30 a.m. in Founders Hall. The religious service will include speeches from Dr. Deanna Barthlow-Potkanowicz, assistant professor of psychology, and graduates, Olivia Poole and Blake Hershberger, who were selected by faculty recommendation.

Bluffton’s 118th Commencement will take place at 2 p.m. in Sommer Center with Dr. James M. Harder, president of Bluffton University, providing the commencement address.

Friday, May 4-Saturday, May 5

  • Juried Student Art Exhibit in Sauder Visual Arts Center. Hours in the Grace Albrecht Gallery are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
  • Lincoln Hall Mementos will be for sale in The Kiva from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  •  Class of ’68 reception and dinner, 4 p.m., Marbeck Center
  • Class of ’78 reception and dinner, 4:30 p.m., Sommer Center
  • May Day musical, a production of “[Title of Show],” the musical, at 7:30 p.m. each evening in Yoder Recital Hall. Tickets, $15 for reserved seats and $5 for Bluffton students, are available online at; for assistance with tickets, call the box office at 419-358-3239.

Saturday, May 5

  • 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 30 minutes from the Kiva in 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
  • Student honors recital, 9:30 a.m., Yoder Recital Hall
  • Class of ’73 brunch, 11 a.m., Houshower House
  • 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 1940 through 2014, their families and friends, and a picnic lunch in Burcky Gym for alumni from 2015-17, their families and friends, plus 2018 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
  • Class of 2018 reception, 2:30 p.m., Centennial Hall lawn
  • Retirement reception for Dr. James Harder, president, 2:30-4 p.m., Yoder Recital Hall lobby
  • Ultimate Frisbee, 3-6 p.m., library green
  • Pi Delta Society banquet, 5:30 p.m., The Commons in Marbeck Center. This event is for Pi Delta members and their guests. Reservations are required.
  • May Day Musical, “[Title of Show],” 7:30 p.m., Yoder Recital Hall


Sunday, May 6

  • Baccalaureate, 10:30 a.m., Founders Hall, Dr. Deanna Barthlow-Potkanowicz, assistant professor of psychology, will give the baccalaureate address.
  • Lunch buffet,11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., The Commons in Marbeck Center, $15 for adults, $10 for children 10 and under.
  • Commencement, 2 p.m., Sommer Center, President Dr. James M. Harder, will give the Commencement address



- Jena O’Brien, public relations student assistant