Dr. Voss: Where is he now?

Former Executive Vice President Dr. Todd Voss will return to Indiana Wesleyan University next April as the class of 2012’s commencement speaker, according to President Henry Smith.

Voss will address the IWU community like he often did during his 22 years of service. This time, though, he will not speak as an administrator, but as the newly appointed president of IWU’s sister school, Southern Wesleyan University.

It has been a long tradition, Smith said, that the university president chooses the commencement speaker. Last spring, Smith chose Harold B. Smith, the president and CEO of Christianity Today International. Two years ago, he chose Dr. Gary Carr, a former U.S. Navy chaplain.
Smith looks for leaders who are inspiring and engaging. Incidentally, Voss has been described as both, and Smith wanted to honor his colleague for his many accomplishments and longtime commitment to the university.

“I was honored, of course, immediately, but did not know quite what to say,” Voss said to describe his shocked reaction. Voss counted the number of commencement speakers he introduced while at IWU: more than 140. “[I] never dreamed I would be the one to bring the address.”

As the longest-serving vice president, the second executive vice president and an integral leader throughout IWU’s development and growth, Voss influenced many students, staff and faculty.

Vice President

“Voss used to walk on his hands in the office,” said Dr. Rob Thompson, assistant professor and coordinator for the student development counseling and administration program. He was hired in 1994 and worked with Voss in the Student Development Office for more than 10 years.

In between creating new student life programs and working with resident assistants, the two men played practical jokes and thrived off of similar senses of humor.

“We’d point [at students] and whisper at each other … just to make the students nervous,” he said.

The duo used to welcome freshmen and nervous parents to campus with a stand-up comedy show called “The Todd and Rob Show.”
Sarah Derck, former resident assistant and assistant professor, compared Voss and Thompson to Laurel and Hardy, an old slapstick comedy act.

With fun as a defining characteristic, Voss put “must have a sense of humor” on his administrative assistant’s job description.

“I had no sense of humor,” said Stephanie Brodt, whom Voss hired soon after becoming executive vice president.

And when she asked him about it years later, he said, “You just have to laugh at all my jokes!” which she did and still does as she told this story.
Voss’ early years were spent creating and developing IWU’s unique community and residence life program. His model is now used at other Christian universities.

“He affirmed my belief in community and the importance of community,” said Thompson. “Would I call him a mentor? You bet.”

Voss worked in student development for 18 years. In an email, he described working hard to learn about every aspect of university life: advancement, financial affairs, academic affairs, enrollment and information technology. Among his accomplishments are creating the Center for Life Calling and Leadership and designing the Barnes Student Center.

Executive Vice President

President Smith appointed Voss as IWU’s second executive vice president in 2007.

“Todd Voss is one of the most creative individuals I’ve ever worked with,” said Smith. “He has a way of finding innovative solutions for complex challenges.”

As executive vice president, Voss oversaw all of the administrative offices, worked closely with the board of trustees and the president’s cabinet and contributed to the design and construction of the Chapel Auditorium.

He always had a full schedule but was never stressed, said Brodt. She was continually amazed by his actions: valuing the university’s money, paying attention to every detail and always making time for relationships, especially with students.

When Collin Rhoade (sr) was a freshman, he began looking for a mentor, a faculty member with “untapped wisdom.” At the suggestion of a friend, he sent an email to Voss, who responded right away. They met once or twice a month to talk about life, leadership and self-discovery until the end of Rhoade’s junior year.

“[Voss] is an incredible guy that loves the Lord and loves other people,” said Rhoade. “He definitely brings the best out of other people.”

Though Voss has moved to South Carolina, he and Rhoade still email. Rhoade traveled to South Africa this summer and made sure to go out for pizza with Voss and other SWU friends when he got back.

President

Brodt recalled her very first days as Voss’ administrative assistant, when he was in high demand for speaking events, workshops and, at times, other job offers.

“He really was happy here. He loved it. He loved the students,” Brodt said. “He loved IWU. He said to me, ‘Unless God tells me differently, I’m content.’”

But doors opened, and Voss traveled to South Carolina to interview.

“While I never aspired to be a college president,” Voss said, “I can now look back and see how all the elements of learning the role aligned in ways God was orchestrating from the very beginning.”

Voss was unanimously approved by Southern Wesleyan University’s board of trustees in May to become the university’s 18th president. He assumed the position on July 1, just one month before the academic year began.

With 632 undergraduate students, SWU resembles what IWU looked like when Voss was hired in 1989. As president, Voss hopes to use some of his IWU experience to foster university growth at SWU.

“SWU is poised for amazing growth for the Kingdom,” said Voss. “It’s amazing really. I wondered why I had worked so hard to develop and refine a growth model for Christian higher education over the years. I had assumed I would be at IWU forever. But God had different plans. I am so grateful for his leading in this amazing transition.”

As for commencement next spring, Voss said he has been listening to the Lord and believes he knows how he is supposed to send the 2012 graduates into the future.

“Illustrations are starting to present themselves, deeper connections are being made,” said Voss. “But I have 10 minutes and will keep that in mind as this growing sermon needs to get condensed.”

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Meet the Pres.: Q&A with Student Body President Aaron Morrison

“I am a child of the King first and foremost, but people tell me that I’m the student body president,” Stephen Aaron Morrison (sr) said, “so I’ll work with that.”

And “work with that” is exactly what Morrison intends to do this year, fusing together Christian character and servant leadership into a new kind of student government Indiana Wesleyan University has not yet seen.

The son of a hard-working Hoosier family, this non-Wesleyan dabbled in multiple leadership positions on- and off-campus before putting on his trademark bow tie to campaign last spring.

He stood on a platform that included, but was not limited to, changing the movie and video game policies and getting more gluten-free food in Baldwin. He still stands on that platform but with a greater emphasis on students’ empowerment and ownership of their college experience.

That apparent motivation is not accidental. Morrison is proud to say that he is a first-generation college student and that his IWU experience has led him to want to work with students and in higher education one day.

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with IWU’s new student body president last week. When he wasn’t quoting Chesterton, J.F.K. or Orlando Bloom, he was eager to talk about plans for the future and an active student body.

Why did you choose Indiana Wesleyan University?
I chose Indiana Wesleyan first and foremost because I was welcomed … and I met three people, which convinced me to come here. By the way they treated me, by how friendly they were, and by how passionate they were to live their lives with purpose really attracted me. They really made me feel at ease, they made me feel welcomed and they made me feel like I could make a contribution here; I could be a part of something much bigger than myself.

Facebook tells me that you are studying pre-law and economics.
I am a pre-law/economics major, but the way I like to say it is, “I major in loving to learn.” I don’t like being limited to one major. I decided six months ago that I’m not going to law school anymore, at least, not after undergrad. I might later, but I really want to go into higher education now. I want to become a residence hall director and move on from there.

Where are you living this year?
I live in South Hall 1-West. My roommate is Garrett Howell (jr), student body chaplain. That’s a fun dynamic to live with: student body president and student body chaplain. I, hopefully, if it all works out, I want to put up a sign that says, “Here we don’t believe in separation of church and state.”

When you are not “doing” university life, what do you do with your time?
I like to do something different, is what I like to say. What I mean by “something different” is, I love experiences that I have never experienced before and learning things that I have never learned before. …That’s what I like to say, “When I’m not doing studies, I’m doing something different.” With friends.

Tell me about your involvement in the Student Government Association from your start until now.
I started as a freshman senator from Reed Hall my freshman year. And Luke Dubert (jr)  and I were senators for Reed sophomore year. That kind of laid the groundwork for my understanding of higher education and what it means to care about how we conduct ourselves in a community of faith and learning. … I enjoyed my time as a senator, but I really wanted to have that relational aspect of mentoring and investing into other people, so then I left SGA my junior year to go be an RA. Being a senator is all well and good — representing people — but I would much rather be developing people. And that’s where my heart is at. I have a teacher’s heart, not a politician’s.

What motivated you to run for student body president?
I love IWU, quite simply. I love IWU because of the people who are here who have spent the past three years of my life investing into me. Whether its been teachers or friends or mentors.

Simply loving IWU and wanting to see it prosper. That’s really it.

I did this because I want to make a contribution. I don’t know if “Kingdom of Heaven” is on the approved list, but it’s where Orlando Bloom’s character says, “What man is a man that does not make the world better around him?” That’s a big motivating factor. I want to make the world better around me, because that’s where I get a lot of my identity as a man. What man is a man that does not improve the world around him, that does not care for the world around him?

What is SGA?
Let me start by saying what it is not. I want to break the perception of what student government is and what government in general is. It is NOT a consumer advocacy group, for one thing. It is NOT an entity that is supposed to give you your interests on a silver platter. It is not only a perception of student government problem, it is one for government in general, period.

Let me word it this way, I feel like we all come to college, or particularly this college, knowing that we want to change the world, but we don’t know how and we don’t know why. Student government is an environment that seeks to answer “how” and “why” and provides you an opportunity to act upon that.

And what is SGA’s role on campus?
Cory [the former student body president] would say that it is to represent the student body. To represent the student body and to serve as the liaison between the student body and the administration and faculty. That answer’s a bit too simple for my taste, but that’s the textbook.

Does the textbook answer imply a need for a mediator, a liaison?
Mhmm, that’s the impression that gives. But I much prefer it as an environment where we ask very hard questions about how and why we want to change the world, or simply the community around us and what ways can we act upon those.

What is day-to-day life like for SGA?
Daily life? It really does not do a whole lot, to be quite honest. And it’s not designed to. It’s designed to encourage you to want to be a better person. And to want to value your community … It is very abstract, but I don’t want it to be a daily part of your life. I want it to inform your life. I want it to encourage you to be a better person. And to give you an opportunity to take more ownership of your college life. The more day to day stuff should be more in the student organizations. The day to day stuff should be in doing your homework and interacting with your friends.

If there is something that SGA is sponsoring or hosting, what is it?
We do occasionally help plan events, but that’s typically what Student Activities Council does, but we do occasionally program. That’s not our main focus, but you would see SGA in some things. For instance, we are taking the lead and planning the homecoming dance and providing the manpower for that. So the very first homecoming dance we are having this fall is SGA, student-led.

So it is not so much on, “What is SGA doing?” It is more, “What is it becoming to you?” It is not … I don’t want people to ask, “What is SGA doing? What is SGA doing?” I want them to ask, “What is student government the concept of government in general becoming to you?”

Who is SGA?
The IWU Student Government Association is a body of student senators, class reps and organizational reps who meet to discuss how to improve our community. That’s the first part. The second part I want to say, and I much prefer this, student government is you. [It is] the student governing yourself and your own behavior first. My definition of government is first and foremost self-government, governing yourself. That is where true liberty and true freedom is. Not in a body of people that you hardly talk to or you don’t meet very often who decide how to live your life.

How can students who are not student senators, class representatives and organizational representatives engage in SGA?
Come to the meetings, give your opinion. Come to meetings and find out how you can make a difference in your community. SGA isn’t going to tell you what to do, but it is hopefully going to give you the framework for how you decide what to do with your college experience.

When are meetings and what should students expect?
9:45 PM Monday nights in Porter Lecture Hall in Burns Hall. We’re also toning down the dress code this year. You can come in a business suit if you want to, but you don’t have to.

Come to the meetings expecting to be engaged and expecting to think a little bit deeper about how you live your life here at Indiana Wesleyan.

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Seybold Park: designated ‘green space’

What was once a city park on the southeast side of campus, just past President and Mrs. Smith’s house, is slowly transforming into new intramural fields for Indiana Wesleyan University.

Seybold Park, as it’s often still called, was named after Marion’s current mayor and his family. IWU purchased the five-acre property from the City of Marion last spring for $143,000 to give students and summer events a larger outdoor space for recreational activities. The city plans to use the funds it received for the property to install new soccer fields on the north side of town, according to Belinda Hussong, director of the Marion Parks Department.

“As campus gets tighter and tighter, [recreational areas] are harder to come by,” said Don Rowley, IWU’s assistant vice president of operations and facilities. Rowley is part of a team of administration and faculty who advocated for additional intramural fields.

One of those advocates, Keith Brakel, director of conference services, said, “We’re excited of the possibility … of having some green space that is close by to the main campus here.”

In the past, summer groups such as youth conferences and cheerleading camps had to walk “quite a distance,” according to Brakel, to get to the athletic fields if they wanted to play soccer, relay games or just have some outdoor space.

Brakel hopes the Seybold Park property will allow the university to invite groups that need larger outdoor areas. With this and intramural activities in mind, park transformation began by removing all playground equipment this summer.

“We realized we didn’t really want to keep the playground equipment there,” said Rowley, “so we were looking for an opportunity in the community for somebody who wanted it, needed it.”

In partnership with the Marion Parks Department, IWU donated the park’s equipment to the Dr. Robert H. Faulkner Academy, a local charter school.

However, Faulkner Academy was not able to install the equipment, according to Jimmy Henry, food service director. An unforeseen $11,000 license and installation fee and, now, a storage unit, stands between the equipment and 133 elementary school students.

Meanwhile, with Seybold Park almost cleared — the pavilion will be relocated to the athletic fields — the university will remove the playground gravel and plant grass seed this fall. Rowley hopes the space will be fit with irrigation and drainage by next summer to create an ideal space for student recreation.

“We see the benefit of the university growing, and that park would have been in the middle of university growth,” said Hussong. “We felt that there was a better opportunity for the university changing that area. It’s been very positive and we’ve been very glad to be a part of that.”

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DCs Gain New Understanding in LGBTQ

Indiana Wesleyan University diversity coordinators attended a lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgendered-and-questioning ally and advocacy training session in August at Ball State University.

The Intercultural Student Services Office and its 16 DCs participated in a variety of exercises and discussions intended to teach about life as an LGBTQ person. Six professional volunteers led the workshop at BSU’s counseling center program, the “Safe Zone.”

The Safe Zone typically charges for these sessions. Due to a positive experience last year between IWU’s ISS office and the Safe Zone — and because there was fear that IWU’s Christian affiliation could offend people seeking support — the diversity coordinators enjoyed a private appointment free of charge.

“The purpose of the event was to get learning and education, to gain a new

perspective, new insight, and to get personal connections and understanding to people who are part of the LGBT[Q] community,” said diversity coordinator Kayli Harlan (sr), “especially to be able to relate to and be equipped to interact with people of that community on Indiana Wesleyan’s campus.”

Many of the diversity coordinators had little or no previous experience with LGBTQ issues. Some acknowledged they had virtually no idea, prior to the workshop, how to engage the LGBTQ community at IWU, where homosexual behavior is prohibited.

For approximately five hours, the Safe Zone program outlined LGBTQ history, helped the diversity coordinators redefine related terms, discussed different theories of sexual development and shared tips on becoming allies to the LGBTQ community.

An ally is “a person who is a member of a dominant or majority group who works to end oppression in her or his personal and professional life through support of, and as an advocate for, the oppressed population (the LGBT community),” according to the Safe Zone.

Meredith Osborn (jr), ISS office program coordinator, translated an ally as a person who “just loves people and sees them through God’s eyes and then opens this dialogue and understands what [LGBTQ people are] going through.”

As a result of this training, the diversity coordinators and the ISS office hope to become safe places for the LGBTQ community at IWU, according to Osborne.

According to Martin Hall diversity coordinator Jamie Daniel (jr), the DCs impressed the Safe Zone volunteers with an honest desire to understand the LGBTQ community.. Gaining this new understanding, however, was not easy.

Nathan Sayegh (jr), diversity coordinator in Scripture Hall, shared that the training was at times difficult and uncomfortable, requiring those in attendance to be vulnerable. “There was not political correctness,” Sayegh said.

At the training’s close, Latrese Moffitt, director of the ISS office, prayed with the diversity coordinators over the training session and the facilitators, opening up a time of deeper connection and conversation with LGBTQ advocates.

“It was a learning experience,” Harlan said. “And it did develop into something spiritual and healing and personal which made it all the more valuable.”

 

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