2022-23 University News

(Non) resident writer

Jeff Gundy, emeritus professor of English at Bluffton University, received a $93,500 grant to travel the world as a writer in (non) residence.

At Bluffton, a dedicated admissions transfer coordinator works with each student individually throughout the application process.

Transfer Honor Roll

Bluffton is one of the 208 colleges and universities selected to the 2023 Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society's Transfer Honor Roll. Colleges were named based on a "Transfer Friendliness" rating.

Bluffton has been recognized as a College of Distinction since 2019-20.

College of Distinction

Colleges of Distinction recognized Bluffton University for providing a high-quality undergraduate education that focuses on hands-on learning, strong student-teacher relationships, a vibrant campus life and successful outcomes.

 Alumni, family and friends join forces: Jesse Williams III ‘89, Clayton Jacobs, Jesse Williams IV and Matthew Jacobs golfed in 2022.

FORE! '23 scramble set

The 26th annual Alumni and Friends Golf Scramble to benefit Bluffton athletics, is set for Saturday, July 22, at Bluffton Golf Club.

Collegiate faculty and staff from as far away as Rhodes Island, South Carolina and Winnipeg, Canada, gathered to discuss vocation.

NetVUE gathering

Career center professionals gathered at Bluffton for the NetVUE (Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education) regional meeting to discuss ways to infuse vocational exploration into the curriculum.

Despite taking courses online, 2023 MBA graduates created community and gathered in-person following commencement.

Alumni discount

A 20 percent tuition discount on a MBA, MAOM, MAEd, MSW or Master of Dietetics degree is available to all alumni who earned an undergraduate degree at Bluffton.

Changes to the Board

Following best practices for an engaged board, the Board of Trustees changed its bylaws, reducing the number of members and standing committees. Retiring trustee Mitch Kingsley was also recognized.

The Bluffton University Nature Preserve is home to 160 acres of woodland and grassland trails, a riverine ecosystem and a small, lake, wildlife habitat.

Invasive plants

A $25,000 Cenovus grant will fund the removal of invasive plants from the Bluffton University Nature Preserve. This work will allow native plants to thrive.

More than 200 students make their way to Sommer Center for their Commencement ceremony.

Commencement 2023

More than 200 students received degrees on a beautiful Saturday morning. Commencement speaker Kathy (Gaines '78) Carr encouraged them to "Have faith in how far you can go."

Faculty received summer 2023 Bluffton University Research Center grants, which provide $2,000 and up to $300 for research-related expenses.

Dean's Reception

Faculty members were recently recognized at the annual Dean's Reception, an academic year-end event honoring faculty who have been awarded grants and other scholarly endeavors.

C. Henry Smith Scholars were among the students recognized at the Academic Awards Forum.

Academic excellence

Student scholars were recognized at the annual Academic Awards and Honors Forum.

Coach Burrow poses with outstanding senior athletes of the year, Haley Gill and Jack Towell.

Burrow philosophy

Coach Jimmy Burrow, aka "Joe Burrow's dad," shared his "Plan to Win" at the Athletic Awards Forum. Outstanding senior athletes and supporters of Bluffton athletics were also recognized.

Rev. Valerie Bridgman shared stories from her life including the integration of schools during her childhood and interacting with young gang members in Austin and Memphis.

Lifetime of activism

Rev. Valerie Bridgman looked back on her 50 years of experience as a peace activist during the annual Keeney Peace Lecture.

More than 20 Civic Engagement Day sessions were presented, many by Bluffton students.

Civic Engagement

Styled like a conference, Civic Engagement Day sessions ranged from sociology students presenting about YikYak to interactive theatre workshops on conversations on race and gender.

Payton Stephens’ speech, “Finding Peace in Religious Conversations: The Free Exercise Clause and Public Schools,” was delivered to address issues of restraining religious conversations in schools.

Oratorical contest

Payton Stephens '22, a writing and communication and media double major from Lebanon, Ohio, was named the winner of the annual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest.

Pastor Georgia Metz, guest speaker for spring Spiritual Life Week, focused on the importance of really listening during Forum.

Let's Listen

Georgia Metz '13 returned to campus for spring semester's Spiritual Life Week. The theme, "Let's Listen," reflects conversations around the polarization of society and the ways technology shapes us.

New head men's basketball coach Seth Clark has experience as a DIII student-athlete, assistant coach and faculty member.

Welcome Coach Clark

Seth Clark, former assistant men's basketball coach at Manchester University, will serve as the next head men's basketball coach at Bluffton University.

Rae Carson has published 10 books and several short stories, but the obstacles she faced at the beginning of her career, remain. The difference now is she’s made peace with them.

Path to publication

New York Times Bestselling Author Rae Carson shared a few lessons she learned on her journey to becoming a full-time author during Bluffton University's 38th English Festival.

Destinations include Edinburgh, the Scottish Highlands, Glasgow, Belfast, Galway and Dublin!

Alumni travel

Join President Jane M. Wood and fellow travelers in Scotland and Ireland. Tour participants will visit small villages, enjoy the beautiful countryside and view seaside cliffs.

Lead President's Ambassadors for 2023-24

Ambassadors named

President's Ambassadors for 2023-24 have been named. They will receive professional development training and will engage with prospective students, alumni and donors.

Seniors Logan Daugherty of Bradford HS and Abbigail Martin of Colonel Crawford HS accepted Bluffton's full-tuition Presidential Scholarship.

Presidential Scholars

Logan Daugherty and Abbigail Martin, incoming students at Bluffton University, have been awarded the full-tuition Presidential Scholarship, valued at nearly $140,000 for four years.

Tickets are available now for performances on March 30, 31 and April 1.

'Quilters' musical

Through music, story and dance, the challenges and joys women faced on the North American frontier will be performed as the spring musical "Quilters."

Commencement speaker Kathy Carr began her career with Fort Wayne Community Schools as a special education teacher in 1978.

Commencement speaker

Kathy (Gaines) Carr, a 1978 Bluffton graduate, long-time educator and community advocate, will address the 2023 graduating class during the May 6 Commencement ceremony.

“We’re not putting on rose colored glasses or airbrushing out the warts of this history in this class. We’re remembering the past as it was and there are lessons out there for us,” said Perry Bush

A look into the past

History students “put their fingers on the bones of Lima’s historic African American neighborhood” in Perry Bush’s Theory and Application class. “What they found is significant,” said Bush.

“My favorite thing about the trip was being able to learn the Greek language in a classroom setting and then using it out on the street right away.”


Immersed in new environments, participants experience diverse lifestyles, make new friendships and learn respect for other heritages all while meeting personal challenges which build character.

Board action taken

The Board of Trustees approved a new construction project and a grant for students, recognized retiring faculty and welcomed a new board member during its annual winter meeting.

Former female student athletes gathered in 2022 for a reunion with Coach Kim Fischer.

Fischer Press Box

Construction for the Coach Kim Fischer Softball Press Box will start in May 2023. Former student-athletes, fans and friends contributed toward the two-story building.

Dr. Jane Wood selected for year-long Presidential Renewal Program.

Sustain leadership

President Dr. Jane Wood was one of just 15 college presidents selected for The Council of Independent Colleges' Presidential Renewal Program.

Dr. Duane Stoltzfus, professor of communication at Goshen College, told stories of three conscientious objectors seeking US citizenship.

Citizenship for COs

Following World War I, prospective US citizens were asked: "Are you willing to take up arms in defense of country?" The impact of this question on pacifists was discussed at Forum.

Biblical study notes developed by Dr. Gerald Mast's Religious Communication class will be submitted for publication.

Not just an assignment

Students of Dr. Gerald Mast's Religious Communication class developed study notes to submit for possible inclusion in the Anabaptist Community Bible.

Bluffton Bread Company student advisory board members.

Student-run business

From developing and standardizing recipes to streamlining the online shopping cart, Bluffton University students are gaining hands-on learning experiences through the Bluffton Bread Company.

Students are prepared to successfully enter the workforce or pursue graduate nursing education after completion of their BSN.

Full accreditation

Bluffton's nursing program has been granted the full five-year accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the nation's leading accrediting agency for nursing programs.

Ceramic students built a new wood-fired kiln. The design is similar to a kiln often used in the 19th and early 20th centuries in southern states.

New wood-fired kiln

Behind Sauder Visual Art Center, there is a newly built wood-fired kiln constructed by ceramics students and T.R. Steiner, adjunct professor of art. Bricks used in the kiln were repurposed.

A clinical educator schedules all supervised experiential learning experiences, including at the Blanchard Valley Hospital.

New MND program

Bluffton is now offering a Master of Nutrition and Dietetics graduate degree for students interested in becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Complete requirements for the RDN exam in 12 months.

Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith gave three pieces of advice: no one is successful on their own, be a person of character and keep showing up.

Show up every day

Early circumstances did not deter future successes for Sharetta Smith, the mayor of Lima, Ohio. Smith spoke on her "Journey to Leadership" at the Presidential Leadership Forum.

A celebration of Coach Guy Neal's accomplishments will be held following the men's basketball game on Feb. 4.

Legacy coach retires

Men's Basketball Coach Guy Neal will retire at the end of his 34th season. The three-time conference Coach of the Year is the winningest coach in Bluffton men's basketball history.

Clayton Moore described his experiences as the first black police officer in Fostoria, Ohio, and his fight against racial discrimination within the department.

Why me?

During the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Forum, retired police sergeant Clayton Moore addressed a question people often ask themselves in times of trial.

Estée (Arend ’13) Hemphill, assistant director of service for the Cleveland Guardians, shared lessons from her career at Forum.

Those other duties

When Estée (Arend '13) Hemphill reflects on her rise through the Cleveland Guardians's front office, she places importance on words often overlooked in a job description: other duties as assigned.

A 2022 graduate of Miami University (Ohio) in interactive media studies, Brian Williams founded R6 and helped grow the Rainbow Six: Siege Esports community.

19th Varsity sport

Brian Williams will coach, recruit and manage the varsity co-ed Esports program starting in the 2023-24 academic year.

The play also features rich characters, complex family dynamics and range of human emotions.

Anne Frank

The story revolves around the confinement of eight people in a tight living space as Jewish families in Amsterdam are forced into hiding from the Nazis during World War II.

“What we’re doing right now is improv, and we still have the option of engaging the scene differently and building a future we don’t have to be scared of.”

"Let's Talk"

During Spiritual Life Week, Flack-Wetherald shared a message on forgiveness during Chapel which resonated with Deborah Yoder '23, an English major from Listowel, Ontario.

Fall campus

New scholarships

Two new scholarships, including the Dr. Perry Bush Scholarship funded by an anonymous donor, were approved during the Board of Trustees fall meeting.

“This program is designed for working teachers who are ready to transition out of a traditional classroom to working with students who need additional resources,” said Dr. Amy Mullins.

Master's degree

Classes are offered online or through Zoom videoconferencing. Once classes and the practicum are complete, program participants are eligible to take the Ohio Assessments for Educators.

2022 Alumni Award recipients Kathy (Gaines ’78) Carr and Brandon Fretag ’08; and Athletics Hall of Fame inductees  Ed Smoker ’63, Denny Phillips ’79 and Alison (Lange ’05) Bentley

Alumni awards

Kathy (Gaines '78) Carr, Brandon Fretag '08, Ed Smoker '63, Denny Phillips '79 and Alison (Lange '05) Bentley, were recognized at Homecoming for their outstanding achievements.

Experiences in summer 2023 will allow students to learn more about Civil Rights history or the Holocaust during bus tours to sites and landmarks.


Students traveled to Kentucky/Appalachia, South Texas, the Southwest Native Nations and Washington, D.C. Students on international experiences explored the Czech Republic and Guatemala while one student traveled to South Korea.

Dr. Todd Allen

Civil rights

Dr. Todd Allen, spoke at Forum, pondered the saying “history never repeats itself, but it rhymes.”

Bluffton's total enrollment remained steady for fall 2022, despite a dip in the number of first-year, full-time students.

Steady enrollment

While the number of first-year, full-time students at Bluffton is slightly down for fall 2022, the number of full-time equivalent students - undergraduate and graduate - is steady at 730.

A much respected member of Bluffton's science faculty from 1921-1961 is remembered with the M'Della Moon Endowed Chair in Botany and Environmental Science.

Endowed chair

An anonymous gift of $1.5 million will fund the M'Della Moon Endowed Chair in Botany and Environmental Science. This chair will manage the Nature Preserve and teaching university classes.

Rob Alexander, director of the Institute for Civics and Public Policy at ONU, compared the Electoral College to the weather.

Electoral College

The Electoral College was controversial at the founding of the United States and has continued to be a lightning rod. Insight into this system was provided at the Constitutional Day Forum.

Students may complete a master’s degree in as few as 12 months if they hold a bachelor of social work degree from an accredited college.

MSW program offered

Classes for a Master of Social Work (MSW) graduate degree with a mental health specialization will begin in the 2023-24 academic year.

The Cuts at Bluffton will be open Sunday afternoons during the academic year. Make appointments with Tyson Goings.

The Cuts is open

A new hair salon/barbershop is open in the Multicultural Student Development Center. Stylists from FreshNFaded in Lima will provide hair services by appointment on Sunday afternoons.

The new interim head coach says, “My unique coaching philosophy comes from my academic background as neurological physical therapist.

Swim coach hired

Dr. Luke Kleman has been named interim head swimming and diving coach.

The 2023 edition of the “Best Colleges” guidebook ranks Bluffton 36 among 76 comparable institutions in 12 Midwest states.

U.S. News ranking

Bluffton University has once again - for the 25th consecutive year - been named to the top tier of Midwest Regional Colleges in the "U.S. News & World Report" rankings.

During the State of the University address President Jane Wood called on the campus community to focus on authentic conversations of

An educated person

During her annual State of the University address President Jane Wood called on the campus community to focus on authentic conversations of "responsible citizenship" and "service to all peoples."

Bethny Ricks, 2006 Bluffton graduate and a member of the Bluffton Board of Trustees, presented at Opening Convocation and participated in a Q&A session with first year students.

Lessons from failure

A corporate executive for 18 years, 2006 Bluffton graduate Bethny Ricks spoke at Opening Convocation. Instead of sharing about her success, Ricks shared seven lessons "forged out of my tears."

With the addition of stadium lights, Alumni Field can be used for evening and early morning practices, soccer and possibly hosting high school playoff games.

Under the lights

Bluffton University's first football game under newly installed stadium lights is scheduled for the Beavers' home opener at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, against Adrian College.

Stadium lights have been installed at Salzman Stadium. To maintain good relationships with neighbors, new outdoor lighting and noise guidelines are set.

Stadium guidelines

Stadium lights have been installed at Salzman Stadium. The university has set new outdoor lighting and noise guidelines for the facility as its usage increases.

Claire Clay, director of public relations and enrollment operations accepted the Program of Excellence Award from Kyle Vaughn, executive director of institutional advancement at Ashland University & ICAA Summer Conference co-chair.

Award-winning program

The President's Ambassadors Program has been recognized with a 2022 Independent College Advancement Associates (ICAA) Program of Excellence Award.

Bluffton University is partnering with HomeTown Ticketing for all alumni, athletics, music and theatre events where tickets are required.

New ticket process

Bluffton is partnering with HomeTown Ticketing for all university alumni, athletics, music and theatre events where tickets are required.

Cross Country Coach Hired

Bluffton University has named Connor Gulick as head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach. Gulick returns to Bluffton following two years of collegiate coaching experience.