Bluffton University: Wikis


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Bluffton University
Bluffton University logo
Motto The Truth Makes Free
Established 1899
Type Private, Mennonite university
President James (Jim) Harder
Students 1,149 (as of 2008-2009)
Location Bluffton, Ohio, United States
40°53′46″N 83°53′53″W / 40.896°N 83.898°W / 40.896; -83.898Coordinates: 40°53′46″N 83°53′53″W / 40.896°N 83.898°W / 40.896; -83.898
Campus Rural
Mascot Beaver
Affiliations Mennonite Church USA

Bluffton University, located in Bluffton, Ohio, United States, is a Christian liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA.

It was founded in 1899 as Central Mennonite College and became Bluffton College in 1913. The name Bluffton University was adopted in 2004.

Bluffton "seeks to prepare students of all backgrounds for life as well as vocation, for responsible citizenship, for service to all peoples and ultimately for the purposes of God’s universal kingdom." [1]



Bluffton offers 39 undergraduate majors organized in 13 academic departments. It also offers three graduate degrees: Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts in Organizational Management, and Master of Arts in Education.

Students at Bluffton are not proctored during exams. Instead, students are on their honor not to cheat and to report any students who do to the instructor. Students are expected to write the honor pledge ( “I am unaware of any aid having been given or received during this examination") on their exams and sign their names.[2]

The honor system was created in 1918 by chemistry professor H.W. Berky, who borrowed the idea from his undergraduate education at Princeton University.[3]

The spirit of the honor system is supposed to pervade every area of campus life.

Religious heritage and life

Bluffton University was founded (as Central Mennonite College) by the General Conference Mennonite Church and became affiliated with the Mennonite Church USA when it was created in 2002 by a merger between the GCMC and the Mennonite Church. It has been a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities since 1991.

The Mennonite church is an Anabaptist denomination committed to nonviolence, social justice and voluntary service.

Bluffton has been open to non-Mennonites since its founding and members of the denomination now make up a minority of students.

Historian Perry Bush, in his centennial history of the college, argues that Bluffton's distinctive religious orientation has been to avoid both secularization and generic American evangelicalism. While many other denominational colleges adopted the latter, Bluffton leaders "refused to separate Mennonite ethical principles from the doctrines they held in common with other evangelicals. They refused to treat peace and service as if they were add-ons, 'nonessentials,' extra-chrome options. Christ's theological and ethical teachings were all of one piece, Mennonites have insisted, and a proper Christian college would be built on the firm integration of the two."[4]

Evidence of this focus can be found in the high percentage of Bluffton graduates "devoting lives to service occupations: teaching, medicine, social work, church ministry, and the like."[5]


Bluffton is a member of NCAA Division III and the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Its sports teams are nicknamed the Beavers; the school colors are royal purple and white.

The school fields seven men's teams (baseball, basketball, cross country, football, soccer, indoor and outdoor track & field) and seven women's teams (basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, indoor and outdoor track & field, volleyball).


The university was founded in 1899 as Central Mennonite College but in its early years functioned as an academy and junior college. When the first president, Noah Hirschy, resigned in 1908, the college had only one building.[6]

In 1913, under President Samuel Mosiman (1910-1935), the college reorganized as Bluffton College with support from five Mennonite groups.[6] The first baccalaureate degrees were confirmed in 1915.

By 1930 enrollment had increased to 371 students, but it fell to 185 by 1936 as the college was battered by the Great Depression and by charges from some of its Mennonite constituency that it promoted theological liberalism.[7] The college had a seemingly successful raising drive in 1929 in an effort to increase its endowment to $500,000 and qualify for accreditation from the North Central Association.[8] However, donors were unable to make good on their pledges after the stock market crash; the college failed to gain accreditation and fell into financial crisis.

In 1931, Witmarsum Theological Seminary, which had been affiliated with the college, closed its doors for good.

Musselman Library was completed in 1930, joining College Hall (1900) and Science Hall (1913, later renamed Berky Hall) as the primary academic buildings.[9]

After the brief presidency of Arthur Rosenberger (1935-1938), Lloyd Ramseyer assumed the Bluffton College presidency in 1938 and served until 1965. Although enrollment plummeted to as low as 77 students during World War II, Ramseyer's tenure was marked by growth and expansion.[10] Enrollment surpassed 300 in 1957 and 400 in 1960. The college finally received NCA accreditation in 1953.[11]

Under presidents Ramseyer and Robert Kreider (1965-1972) the college also underwent a building boom. Since 1924, Bluffton had had just two residence halls, Ropp Hall (1914) for women and Lincoln Hall (1924) for men. Ropp Annex was completed in 1958 followed by four others (Bren-Dell Hall, Hirschy Hall, Hirschy Annex and Ropp Addition) by 1967.[9]

Other new buildings during this period included Founders Hall/Burky Addition (1951/1971), a sports facility with a 2,000-seat auditorium; Mosiman Hall (1960), the music building; a four-story expansion to the library (1966); Marbeck Center (1968), a student union with dining facilities, book store and other student facilities; and Riley Court (1969), a five-building complex that now house administrative offices.[9][12]

There were plans for future expansion and growth, but the 1970s instead were a time of retrenchment and conflict. Enrollment peaked at 789 in 1969 but dropped below 700 by 1972 and below 600 by 1975. The college fell deep into debt and made significant cut-backs.[13]

Bluffton's sixth president, Ben Sprunger (1972-1977), proposed increasing enrollment by transforming Bluffton into an evangelical college. This proposal was resisted by faculty, leading to Sprunger's resignation. However, during Sprunger's term, the college managed to balance the budget, conduct a successful capital campaign and construct Shoker Science Center (1978).[14]

Enrollment at Bluffton was below 600 for most of the 1980s, but the college experienced another era of growth and expansion in the 1990s under presidents Elmer Neufeld (1978-1996) and Lee F. Snyder (1996-2006), the first female president at Bluffton or any other Mennonite college. By 1995, the enrollment surpassed 1,000 for the first time.[15]

The college built two new residence halls, Ramseyer Hall (1994) and Neufeld Hall (2003), to meet housing demand. Other building projects included Sauder Visual Arts Center (1991), which houses an art gallery and studios for painting, drawing, sculpture and other arts; Yoder Recital Hall (1994), a 300-seat, state-of-the-art performance facility; and Centennial Hall (2000), a new academic building.[9]

Another major addition was the Emery Sears Athletic Complex, which includes 2,600-seat Dwight Salzman Stadium (1993) plus a baseball diamond, all-weather track, and soccer field.[9]

In 1995, Bluffton began a masters program in education, the first of its graduate programs.

In 2004, the college, which now had three graduate programs, became Bluffton University.

In 2006, James Harder became Bluffton's ninth president.

WBWH-LP 99.3 FM serves as the campus and community radio station.

2007 bus crash

On March 2, 2007, a bus carrying the Bluffton baseball team fell off the Northside Drive overpass on Interstate 75 in Atlanta, Georgia, after the driver apparently mistook a southbound left-side exit ramp for a high-occupancy vehicle lane. The bus crashed into and flipped over a concrete barrier on the overpass and fell 30 feet back onto the interstate.[16][17]

Four members of the Bluffton baseball team were killed in the accident, along with the bus driver and his wife. A fifth player died a week later from injuries caused by the crash. On March 12, 2008, a memorial titled the "Circle of Remembrance"[18] located near the baseball field was dedicated prior to a Service of Remembrance[19] to mark the one year anniversary of the event. Of the 35 people on the bus, the following were killed as a result of the crash[20][21]:

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "Bluffton University". Retrieved 9 March 2007. 
  2. ^ "Bluffton University". Retrieved 9 March 2007. 
  3. ^ Bush, Perry (2000). Dancing with the Kobzar. Pandora Press U.S.. p. 72. ISBN 0-9665021-3-2. 
  4. ^ Bush, Perry (2000). Dancing with the Kobzar. Pandora Press U.S.. pp. 20–21. ISBN 0-9665021-3-2. 
  5. ^ Bush, Perry (2000). Dancing with the Kobzar. Pandora Press U.S.. p. 259. ISBN 0-9665021-3-2. 
  6. ^ a b Bush, Perry (2000). Dancing with the Kobzar. Pandora Press U.S.. p. 58. ISBN 0-9665021-3-2. 
  7. ^ Bush, Perry (2000). Dancing with the Kobzar. Pandora Press U.S.. p. 113. ISBN 0-9665021-3-2. 
  8. ^ Bush, Perry (2000). Dancing with the Kobzar. Pandora Press U.S.. pp. 95–96. ISBN 0-9665021-3-2. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "Bluffton University". Retrieved 10 March 2007. 
  10. ^ Bush, Perry (2000). Dancing with the Kobzar. Pandora Press U.S.. p. 130. ISBN 0-9665021-3-2. 
  11. ^ Bush, Perry (2000). Dancing with the Kobzar. Pandora Press U.S.. pp. 152–153, 162. ISBN 0-9665021-3-2. 
  12. ^ Bush, Perry (2000). Dancing with the Kobzar. Pandora Press U.S.. pp. 163–164. ISBN 0-9665021-3-2. 
  13. ^ Bush, Perry (2000). Dancing with the Kobzar. Pandora Press U.S.. pp. 190–192, 216. ISBN 0-9665021-3-2. 
  14. ^ Bush, Perry (2000). Dancing with the Kobzar. Pandora Press U.S.. pp. 226–231. ISBN 0-9665021-3-2. 
  15. ^ Bush, Perry (2000). Dancing with the Kobzar. Pandora Press U.S.. pp. 234, 247. ISBN 0-9665021-3-2. 
  16. ^ "CNN". Retrieved 2 March 2007. 
  17. ^ "Yahoo News". Retrieved 9 March 2007. 
  18. ^ Circle of Remembrance
  19. ^ Service of Remembrance
  20. ^ "Columbus Dispatch". Retrieved 3 March 2007. 
  21. ^ "Atlanta Journal-Constitution". Retrieved 3 March 2007. 
  22. ^ "Vintage Physics Chart Installed in Science Center". Eastern Mennonite University. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  23. ^ "". Retrieved 8 March 2007. 
  24. ^ "Bluffton University". Retrieved 8 March 2007. 
  25. ^ "". Retrieved 5 May 2009. 

External links



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