Student success


Christy Garmatter

From elementary teacher to substitute teacher to director of student success, it’s always been about relationship-building for Christy Garmatter ’97, MAEd ‘04.

Establishing a ‘Circle of Care’

From Christy Garmatter’s first time on campus to her new role in student life, her experience at Bluffton University has truly been ‘all about the relationships.’ A two-time Bluffton graduate (Bachelor of Arts in elementary education in 1997 and Master of Arts in Education in 2004), Garmatter was recently named director of student success.

In high school, Garmatter immediately felt welcome on campus during a campus tour given by former admissions counselor, Audwin Jones ’87.

“At the end of the day, I remember my dad saying, ‘heck, even I want to come here!’”

Following graduation, Garmatter taught in Puerto Rico for two years before returning to the Bluffton area. She was an elementary school teacher in Pandora for ten years and transitioned to a substitute role at Bluffton Village Schools when she had kids. When they got older, Garmatter was ready for a change and began working at Bluffton University in 2019 as tutoring and accommodations coordinator. She’s also taught classes such as Becoming a Scholar and Basic Math and co-led the cross-cultural experience to Ecuador. 

“What I loved the most about teaching in a public school was building relationships with the students and providing a place where students could feel safe, where they could come to me if they had an issue,” said Garmatter. “Really, that’s the same vibe that I built here not only in tutoring but also in the classroom.” 

In her new role, Garmatter will manage the Day One Ready process for incoming students and the Bluffton 360 platform for current students. Implemented this academic year, Bluffton 360 is a way of catching issues—whether they’re related to academics, mental health, financial aid, etc.—before they become problems for students. 

“We ended up calling it Bluffton 360 because it’s a circle of care,” explained Garmatter. “The more people a student has rooting for them and helping them along the way, the easier their journey through Bluffton should be.”

While her office is now in Marbeck Center, Garmatter will continue to oversee tutoring. She already knows many Bluffton students who regularly visited the Learning Resource Center in College Hall for tutoring and study tables. Now, she’s ready to make even more connections. 

“It’s been fun. The students will come down the stairs for lunch and yell ‘Hey G’ or ‘Hi Miss Christy.’ Lots of students pop in,” said Garmatter. “I have a lot of good relationships with students, but I’m ready to meet even more of their friends.” 

Garmatter lives in Bluffton with her husband, Randy. They have two kids—Jordyn, a current Bluffton student, and Cody, a high school junior.