TRUSTEES NAME NEW BUILDING, REAPPOINT PRESIDENT
Bluffton University’s Board of Trustees has taken formal action to recognize a longtime Bluffton family that provided the naming gift for the health and fitness education center project that is the centerpiece of Extending Our Reach—The Campaign for Bluffton.
Upon completion next fall, the Sommer Center for Health and Fitness Education will recognize the service and significant campaign gifts of Ted ’41 and Jo (Conrad ’44) Sommer and their sons, Steve ’73 and Jim ’68, along with Jim’s wife Susan (Lehman ’68) Sommer, all from central Illinois.
In announcing the naming gift, President James M. Harder said, "I am deeply grateful for the many ways that the Sommer family provides support for Bluffton, including a transformative gift to the health and fitness education center project. Given the family’s long tradition of service and support, it is most appropriate for the Sommer family name to be permanently associated with Bluffton’s new building, which will become a vital center of student activity on campus."
Beginning with the historic relationship of the Sommer Brothers Seed Co. business with Bluffton, the family has maintained an important and supportive relationship with the university as students, athletes, alumni and parents, and through board service and significant financial support. Ted served on the Board of Trustees from 1964-74, and Jim is a current member, having served since 2001. Both Steve and Jim were athletes at Bluffton, and Jim is in the Athletics Hall of Fame. The Sommer family has played a leadership role in the university’s current $30 million campaign by providing the lead gift to the building project.
The 60,000-square-foot complex, located north of Marbeck Center on campus, will house space for the academic department of health, fitness and sport science; a weight and fitness center for all students; a new arena for intercollegiate basketball and volleyball; a sports medicine center; athletics offices; and practice, intramural and multipurpose facilities. The building is expected to be the first at Bluffton to be certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system.
At their spring meeting on campus April 13 and 14, the trustees also reappointed Harder to a new four-year term. He has served as president since 2006.
"Dr. Harder has provided Bluffton with strong and effective leadership. His understanding of the economic forces affecting higher education and, in particular, Bluffton University, and his commitment to strengthening the university by advancing its mission in new and strategic ways are deeply appreciated," said Morris Stutzman, chairperson of the trustees. "We are grateful for his leadership and vision, for his commitment to the Anabaptist faith perspective and for the effective relationships he has cultivated within the Bluffton community and its broader constituency. We look forward to his continued leadership of Bluffton University."
Additional board action at the spring meeting included:
• Establishment of the Ron and Phyllis Friesen Student Discovery Fund in business studies. The $25,000 endowed fund will support undergraduate research, travel, intercultural and professional development activities. Dr. Ron Friesen was a professor of economics at Bluffton from 1969-2004.
• Approval of the appointment of Dr. Julie E. DeGraw as vice president for student life and dean of students. She will join the campus community after July 1.
• Approval of the following promotions and promotions/tenure for faculty: Dr. Dan Fultz, of Bluffton, to associate professor of communication; Dr. Deb Myers, Lima, to professor of food and nutrition; Jennifer Hughes, Lima, to associate professor of social work and granted tenure; Dr. J. Alexander Sider, Bluffton, to associate professor of religion and granted tenure; and Dr. Paul Neufeld Weaver, Bluffton, to associate professor of education and granted tenure.
• Reappointment of trustees Larry Copeland ’65, Findlay, Ohio, and Ernest Thomas ’76, Richfield, Ohio, as members at-large for terms continuing through 2018.
• Approval of the slate of board officers for 2012-13: Stutzman ’72, of Wooster, Ohio, as chairperson; Mark Weidner, Lancaster, Pa., vice chairperson; LaVonne Hartman, Elida, Ohio, secretary; and John Liechty ’76, Goshen, Ind., treasurer.
Bluffton public relations, 4/19/12