2023-24 University News

Kelly Bilen, MackKenzie Martin, Brooke Barnes and Abby Bush were recognized for completing Departmental Honors projects.

Student scholars

Outstanding students were recognized for academic achievements, including those completing departmental honors projects, at the annual Academic Awards and Honors Forum.

President’s Ambassadors receive extensive training in networking, professional development, etiquette, conversational skills and interviewing.

President's Ambassadors

President's Ambassadors to serve during the 2024-25 academic year have been selected. These students will assist in recruiting prospective students, greeting campus guests, and engaging alumni and donors.

Faculty research was celebrated at the annual year-end Dean’s Reception, led by Dr. Alex Sider, interim vice president of academic affairs.

Faculty research

Faculty development of computational simulations supporting climate study, literature research and installation of a permaculture garden will be supported by research grants.

Kelly Armentrout, Bill Hanefeld and Cole Kropka received awards as outstanding athletes and contributions to Bluffton athletics.

Celebrating success

"Success is a Choice" was the message given at the 2024 Athletics Award forum. Awards were presented to standout senior student-athletes and a dedicated supporter of Bluffton athletics.

Play in MLB stadium

Bluffton University baseball will travel north, all the way to Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, to take on the Alma College Scots on Wednesday, April 24.

Junior Jenna Juarez earned first place in the annual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest with her speech “Promoting Peace in Skilled Nursing Facilities.”

Speaking peace

Jenna Juarez advocated for including meaningful daily activities for elders in her winning speech during the C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest.

Bluffton University's various music groups will perform amusing and familiar pieces this Spring Fling

Spring Fling Concert

Bluffton University's music groups will come together for a spring concert featuring fun and familiar tunes at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 21, in Yoder Recital Hall.

Several students will present their speeches for the C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest

Oratorical Contest

Students selected to participate in the annual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest will prepare an oration that applies a peace-church perspective to an issue of contemporary concern.

Women's basketball, volleyball, and softball coach, the late Kim Fischer

Kim Fischer Dedication

The Kim Fischer Press Box at Bluffton University Softball Field, to be dedicated on Saturday, April 6, honors the legacy of Kim Fischer, Bluffton's winningest female coach.

An exceptional performance will be put on by Bluffton University’s Masterworks

French Concert

Dr. Bo Young Kang will be conducting Bluffton University's Masterworks performance of French composer Maurice Duruflé's "Requiem" at 2:30 p.m. on April 14 in Yoder Recital Hall.

Civic Engagement '24

Civic Engagement '24

Dr. J. Walter Paquin, professor of social work, will present the annual Civic Engagement Forum explaining the importance of making choices that enhance emotional well-being.

Jamy Bechler, author, podcaster and former basketball coach.

Athletics Awards

Bluffton University will recognize its top student-athletes at the annual Athletics Awards Forum, featuring a presentation by author and former basketball coach Jamy Bechler.

Sarah Augustine invited a consideration of indigenous wisdom as the path toward faithful ecological solutions during the Kenney Peace Lecture.

Nature: the main event

A climate activist and Pueblo descendant, Sarah Augustine, co-founder of the Coalition for Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery, presented "So We and Our Children May Live."

Patrick Chester, a program facilitator for Epic Global Solutions

Gambling Addiction

Bluffton University's Virtue-Driven Athletics program invited Patrick Chester to help student-athletes gain awareness of sports betting and pinpoint the signs of gambling addiction.

A marvelous performance will be given by Bluffton University’s Brass Quartet

Brass Quartet Concert

Under the direction of Dr. Roy Couch, the Brass Quartet will perform a variety of pieces including "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Sweet Caroline" on April 7 in Yoder Recital Hall.

Dr. Cherie Hocanson and Jordan Hamilton, assistant professors of education at Bluffton University

BUILD grant

Dr. Cherie Hocanson and Jordan Hamilton will discuss training education prep candidates on the five components of effective reading at the Colloquium on April 5 in Stutzman Lecture Hall.

Exceptional works by Rosanna Barber, Mikayla Bockrath, and Matt DeRitter will be displayed in Sauder Visual Arts Center.

Pots and PCs

Rosanna Barber, Mikayla Bockrath, and Matt DeRitter, will showcase their most prominent work in their senior art exhibit "POTS and PCs," April 2 through May 4.

SLW speaker Lindsay Horn '19, a food and nutrition major at Bluffton, now serves as associate director of social mission at Bellarmine Chapel in Cincinnati.

Spiritual wellness

Spiritual Life Week focused on cultivating an awareness of peace. Lindsay Horn '19 was guest speaker for the week.

University of Findlay and Bluffton University will host two Town Hall events about their proposed merger.

Town Hall events

Town Hall events

MOU signed to pursue merger of Bluffton University and the University of Findlay.

Historic partnership

The pursuing of a merger of Bluffton University operations with University of Findlay is announced. Pending all regulatory approvals, the merger is anticipated to be completed by fall 2025.

Bluffton University’s spring play, “Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Audience members will be transported to the Regency era of England during the play and be taken by surprise by this version's comedic twist.

Associate professor of physics Dr. Luke Myers

Exploring the Eclipse

Dr. Luke Myers, associate professor of physics, will discuss the upcoming total solar eclipse with attention to the physical, historical and cultural aspects of the phenomenon.

The Great Minds Fellowship Grant awarded to Bluffton University by the Ohio Department of Higher Education

Great Minds Grant

The Great Minds Fellowship Grant will provide up to $10,000 in financial aid to Master of Social Work students who are pursuing careers in high-need areas.

Professor of chemistry Dr. Charles Daws

Drug Detection

Dr. Charles Daws, professor of chemistry, will discuss projects he worked on to measure the quantity of drugs present instead of just whether they are present.

Reagen O’Brien is active in softball, basketball cheerleading and competition cheerleading. At Bluffton, O’Brien plans to study biology.

Knowlton Scholarship

Reagen O'Brien has been awarded the Austin E. Knowlton Memorial Scholarship, valued at more than $16,000 over four years.

Sarah Augustine, co-founder and executive director of the Coalition for Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery

Harmony in Crisis

Sarah Augustine, climate activist and Pueblo descendant, invites consideration of indigenous wisdom for faithful ecological solutions for the current climate crisis.

Closed for eclipse

Closed for eclipse

For the safety of the research team and our campus community, Bluffton University will be closed to the public on April 8, 2024.

Tickets are available now for the March 21-24 spring theatre production.

Spring play cast list

Tickets are available for "Pride and Prejudice" theater production at Bluffton. Abby Bush and Carter Ritchey play the lead roles in this effervescent adaptation of the Jane Austen novel.

Spiritual Life Week speaker, Lindsay Horn, is a 2019 Bluffton graduate and associate director of social mission at Bellarmine Chapel in Cincinnati.

Spiritual wellness

Ancient practices of meditation will be explored during Spiritual Life Week as ways to cultivate spirituality and bring peace. Lindsay Horn, a 2019 Bluffton graduate, will be the guest speaker.

Assistant professor of art Phil Sugden and retired assistant professor of communication Carole Elchert


Phil Sugden, art professor at Bluffton, and Carole Elchert, retired communication professor at Findlay, present a documentary on the political resistance of Cuban artists.

Ways to navigate two hot-button issues in college athletics—name, image, likeness (NIL) deals and social media use—were given to student-athletes.

NIL and social media

Ways to navigate two hot-button issues in college athletics—name, image, likeness (NIL) deals and social media use—were given to student-athletes.

Professor of criminal justice and sociology Dr. Robert Brenneman

Promoting Peace

In honor of the late C. Henry Smith, Dr. Robert Brenneman will discuss what can be learned from the peacebuilding practices of Central American Anabaptist-Mennonite congregations.

CEO of Ten Thousand Villages Dan Alonso

Future of Fair-Trade

Dan Alonso, CEO of Ten Thousand Villages, will share his journey of volunteer service to leadership for the organization that transforms lives around the world.

Mennonite Church USA executive director Glen Guyton

Commencement 2024

Glen Guyton, Mennonite Church USA executive director, will speak at the Commencement. As the first person of color in the role, he has 30 years of experience to share.

2024 music department Winter Instrumental Concert

Winter Concert

The Winter Instrumental Concert, directed by Dr. Roy Couch will include wind band music with themes of hope, joy, Black History Month, and a tribute to Philip Glass.

Writer, community organizer and teacher Maurice Broaddus

English Festival

The English Festival offers students a day of writing, reading and hearing fine literature. During the event, Maurice Broaddus, will describe how Afrofuturism looks in communities imaging the future.

Dr. J. Denny Weaver, professor emeritus of religion, taught at Bluffton from 1975-2006. The release of his memoir was celebrated in Musselman Library.

J Denny Weaver memoir

"This book traces the development of my development as a theologian--from a small boy from a quite conservative Mennonite Sunday school to the publication of 'The Nonviolent Atonement.'"

Senior art exhibit

Kelly Bilen, Jenía Freewalt, Adrianny Ruiz Suarez and Amanda Scott, will showcase their most prominent work in their senior art exhibit "Reflections," Feb. 19 through March 22.

The Bluffton University Nature Preserve will be a learning laboratory for the new environmental science major.

New science major

Gain a broader understanding of the natural and built worlds through the new environmental science major. Students may become involved in the management of the Nature Preserve.

You too could get into the suit! Applications are accepted through 4:30 p.m. Friday Feb. 23.

Who is in the suit?

Who served as J. Denny and Jenny Beaver for 2023-24?. Find out Friday, Feb. 16, between the women's and men's basketball games against Defiance College.

During Forum, Amanda (Fogle ‘05) Sigmon offered practical steps for building a growth mindset using the acronym GRIT.

Alumna speaker

Amanda (Fogle '05) Sigmon, Girl Scouts of the USA council partner manager, shared tools to build a growth mindset, helping people thrive instead of spiraling in times of difficulty.

K-5 literacy event

Students in grades K-5 are invited to explore literacy centers, earn prizes and receive a free book at "Dive into Reading" at The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center.

Adeline Thorn plans to study business administration and writing at Bluffton.

Scholarship winner

Adeline Thorn, a senior at Smithville High School, has been awarded the university's full-tuition Presidential Scholarship, valued at more than $144,000 over four years.

Associate professor of music Roy Couch

Digital Development

Roy Couch will discuss how the development of digital software affects the creative process during his Colloquium, "The Possibilities of the Digital Sound Palette in Music Creation."

Jesse Jackson

Recovery Process

Jesse W. Jackson III, the school improvement coach and author, will help students build resiliency while adapting to and recovering from trauma during this presentation.

Mental health grant

On-campus student mental health services will be available thanks for a grant from the Ohio Department of Higher Education's Mental Health Support Funding Program.

2006 Bluffton alumnae Bethny Ricks has led multiple billion-dollar business transformations over 18 years as a business executive.

Stand firm in chaos

"Embrace failure" was just one piece of advice given by business executive and Bluffton alumna Bethny Ricks during the annual Presidential Leadership Forum.

In his book release

Theological Memoir

In his book release "New Moves: A Theological Odyssey," J. Denny Weaver, shares how his career as a theologian shaped his nonviolent understanding of Jesus' atonement.

Council partner manager and Girls Scouts of the USA Amanda Sigmon

Growth Mindsets

Amanda Sigmon '05 will present the Forum, "Grow Through the GRIT- Developing Your Growth Mindset," offering a healthy path to addressing organizational changes.

Award winning sci-fi novelist Tobias Buckell

AI and Creative Writing

Tobias Buckell, instructor of English, will share, "Can Artificial Intelligence Write Decent Creative Fiction?" during the spring 2024 Colloquium series.

The best works from 2023-24 Bluffton art classes are on display.

56th Student art show

The best works of art created during Bluffton University classes or supervised independent studies will be displayed during the 56th Annual Juried Student Exhibition.

Pastor Steve Terry drew from the book of Phillipians for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Forum.

Choose your attitude

Pastor Steve Terry pressed the importance of a positive attitude and leading a life of impact during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Forum.

Professor or History Dr. Martina Cucchiara will provide an historical context to the Middle East conflict.

Historical context

100 years of Middle East conflict between will be explored by Dr. Martina Cucchiara in a special evening Forum. The goal is an informed engagement with the current conflict.

2006 Bluffton University graduate Bethny Ricks returns as the Presidential Leadership Lecture speaker.

Leadership Forum

Bethny Ricks, a business executive, author, speaker and Bluffton alumnae, will present the Forum, "See Your Way Clear: Leading Through Chaos."

Pastor Steve Terry will expound on the importance of a positive attitude.

MLK Forum

Pastor Steve Terry, New Life Church of God, Fort Wayne, Ind., will present, "The Impact of a Positive Attitude" for the MLK Jr Day Forum.

Alumni email

Alumni email

"Email for life" will no longer be provided to Bluffton alumni due to increasing cyber security concerns. Alumni accounts will expire March 21, 2024.

2021 Masterworks Concert performance.

Masterworks rehearsals

"Requiem" by French composer Maurice Durufle will be performed for the Masterworks Concert in April. Vocalists, high school age and older, are invited to attend rehearsals beginning, Jan. 16.

Engineering partnership formed between Bluffton and Wright State University.

Engineering pathway

Students interested in studying engineering may take foundational courses at Bluffton and transition to Wright State University's Electrical Engineering program.

Bluffton students identify plants in the Nature Preserve prairie.

Grassland restoration

A two-year, $100,000 Protect the Planet Grant from Cenovus Energy will fund the continuing invasive-species removal and native-plant restoration at the Nature Preserve.

Earn dual degrees focused on engineering from both Bluffton and Ohio State University. Students may access resources from both universities with this new partnership.

Engineering partnership

Earn dual degrees focused on engineering from both Bluffton and Ohio State University. Students may access resources from both universities with this new partnership.

Having brave conversations leads to stronger relationships, according to Forum speaker Andrea Flack-Wetherald.

Brave conversations

Andrea Flack-Wetherald, social worker, author, comedian and 2010 Bluffton graduate, shared tips for holding difficult conversations and explained how these conversations can lead to wellness.

Soloists for the 2024 Bluffton University 'Messiah'

'Messiah' soloists

Val Sibila, Kira McGirr, Frederick A. Peterbark and Max Pivik will be soloists for the 2024 performance of Handel's "Messiah" on Sunday, Dec. 10. Free tickets are required.

Soloists along with the Bluffton Choral Society including students, faculty, staff and community members will be accompanied by an orchestra.


Bluffton University will present its 129th performance of Handel's "Messiah" at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10, in Yoder Recital Hall.

Buckell is a “New York Times” bestselling writer and World Fantasy Award winner who has also been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards.

Novel release

An author event celebrating the release of Tobias S. Buckell's novel, "A Stranger in the Citadel," will be held at 4 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 30 in the Reading Room of Musselman Library.

The money will provide up to $10,000 in financial support to 13 Bluffton social work majors, current juniors and seniors, who are pursuing careers in high-need areas such as substance abuse counseling and mental-health treatment.

Grant funding

Bluffton received $130,000 in Great Minds Fellowship Grant funding as part of a statewide effort to encourage more students to pursue behavioral health-related professions.

Rich Bindernagle, Dr. Michael Anthony, Dr. Ruth Abaya and Greg Wannemacher

Alumni honored

Athletics Hall of Fame and Alumni Awards were presented to Greg Wannemacher '77, Dr. Ruth Abaya '05, Rich Bindernagel '79 and Dr. Michael Anthony '07.

Trustees approved moving $2 million from estate gifts into endowment and operations funds.

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees met in October for their annual fall meeting. During the meeting, President Jane Wood provided an update on the strategic plan and shared new initiatives.

Based in rural Wisconsin, the famed “healing waters” of Paragon Springs have been mysteriously poisoned, and Dr. Thomas Stockman is determined to share the truth no matter the consequences.

Paragon Springs

First staged 23 years ago and set nearly 100 years ago, "Paragon Springs" was chosen by director Dr. Melissa Friesen because the issues presented transcend time.

“Your past does not define you. Not one professor held my past against me,” explained Glick. “In fact, they cheered me on.”

It's okay to fail

2007 alumnus David Glick returned to campus for Spiritual Life Week. Glick provided the Forum and Chapel messages and worked with students as they explored the theme "Be Rooted."

Early Interval will perform works from the Renaissance set against contemporary poetry about the environmental crisis.

Ecological history

A Forum juxtaposing attitudes from the Renaissance with today's climate crisis will be followed by an evening performance of "Music and Poetry for a Regenerative Earth."

Set in 1926 in the American heartland, the famed “healing waters” of Paragon Springs have been mysteriously poisoned.

Theatre cast list

The lure of capitalism and the greed of small-town-self-interest will be explored in the Bluffton University Theatre presentation of "Paragon Springs" by Steven Dietz.

Corporate Partnership

A 20% tuition discount on graduate programs is just one of the benefits provided by a new corporate partnership between Grob Systems, Inc., and Bluffton University.

Alumni weekend

Along with cheering on the football, volleyball and swim teams, the Beavers will host alumni gatherings, food trucks, Beaver Tail-Gating and more for homecoming and alumni weekend.

Applications open soon for spring 2024 experiences to the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Kentucky, the Ohio River Valley and Washington, D.C.

Cross Cultural Forum

Students who participated in spring 2023 short-term cross-cultural experiences spoke during Forum.

2023-24 Enrollment

Bluffton University enrollment for 2023-24 includes 205 new traditional undergraduate students (up from 172 a year ago) and 54 new graduate students (a 50 percent increase.)

Robin Bowlus, vice president of advancement and enrollment management; Lyle Miller, Everence; Greg Liestman, Everence; Jane Wood, president; and Ed Basinger, Everence, following the gift presentation.

$1.8 million gift

“John and Erma (Stutzman) wanted their generosity to extend beyond their lifetime and the financial gift from their estate will have the potential to create this type of legacy.”

President Jane Wood shares the State of the University for 2023-24.

State of the University

President Jane Wood announced a major gift, explained how the state of each student directly impacts the state of the university and shared successes from the year.

Judge David A. Rodabaugh, Lima Municipal Court, presented the 2023 Constitution Day Forum.

Constitution Day

Judge David A. Rodabaugh, Lima Municipal Court, discussed the recent Supreme Court decision for 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis. The case dealt with matters of free speech, nondiscrimination and LGBTQ-rights.

The university and community join in this traditional town-gown advent performance.

Join the chorus

Perform Handel's "Messiah" with the Bluffton University community on Dec. 10. Vocalists high school age and older are invited to join the chorus. Weekly rehearsals begin Oct. 3.

U.S. News ranking

"U.S. News & World Report" once again named Bluffton University to the top tier of Midwest Regional Colleges. This is Bluffton's 26th consecutive year to be ranked.

Charlene Coughlin, marketing professional and Bluffton University graduate, explored the power of advertising on mental health.

Marketing and mental health

Bluffton graduate Charlene Coughlin, spoke in Forum on the connection between marketing and mental health. If authentic, positive marketing is the right thing to do and good for business.

Works by Kathleen Pahl will be displayed Sept. 25-Oct. 22.

Pahl art exhibit

Using color, organic forms and lines, Kathleen Pahl explores intersections of life and death and our relationship with the unknowable. The exhibit begins Sept. 25.

Michael Bailey, Heather Koontz, and Laurel Neufeld Weaver answered questions on why mental health issues are on the rise and obstacles people face in managing their emotional wellness.

Emotional health

Instead of looking to social media for a diagnosis, the panelists encouraged audience members to seek help from a licensed mental health provider.

Thomas E. “Tucker” Lott, a businessman, storyteller and mentor from Kansas City, Mo., shared stories from his time at Bluffton.

Make wise choices

Make positive choices and always get back up if you fall, "because falling happens." Alumnus Thomas E. "Tucker" Lott gave this advice during the annual Opening Convocation.


Opening convocation

Thomas E. "Tucker" Lott, an alumnus, consultant, storyteller, investor and mentor, will be the featured speaker as the class of 2027 is welcomed during Opening Convocation.

The first phase of this project will remove invasive plants near the entrance of the preserve.

Preserve restoration

Invasive shrubs are being removed at the Bluffton University Nature Preserve to support biodiversity and provide resources for birds, small mammals and insects.