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Dr. Wright introduces Three-Year Pilot Program at town hall meeting

Indiana Wesleyan University President Dr. David Wright announced a new program to curb the university’s declining enrollment numbers at the town hall meeting in IWU’s Philippe Performing Arts Center Oct. 6.

Wright began the meeting with news that IWU’s undergraduate enrollment at the Marion campus has declined over the last three years enough to cause concern among the administration. In the fall of 2011, IWU had just over 3,300 students enrolled at the residential campus. This fall, there are just over 2,900 undergraduate students taking classes at the residential campus.

Wright expressed his concern about this decline and announced a plan to fix the issue called the Three-Year Pilot Program.

One aspect of the program is an update to the church-matching scholarship. The previous ruling of the scholarship stated that IWU will match a scholarship granted from the student’s home church up to $900.

The update states that students of the Wesleyan denomination can now earn up to $1,500 to match and all other non-Wesleyan denominations can now earn up to $1,000.

“The Three-Year Pilot Program will let us aggressively promote the residential campus to the public and to our key communities from which we want to recruit students,” Wright said.

Wright also stressed there will be some major advancements in a few of the university’s current programs.

First of all, the university’s board of trustees approved a new Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree, which will launch in the summer of 2016.

Along with the advancement in the ministry program, some other developing initiatives for the Three-Year Pilot Program include International Recruitment and an Ivy Tech Partnership.

The Board of Trustees will be making major advancements in the health sciences department between now and 2025. The university plans to add 24 new programs to the health sciences department, including Doctor of Physical Therapy, Biomedical Sciences and Doctor of Optometry degrees.

Over the last five years, the addition of programs–such as Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Music Therapy, Master of Public Health and Health Care Administration–have increased enrollment, with just over 400 students enrolled in the 2014 fall semester.

“We clearly have gotten enrollment that we would not have gotten otherwise [due to new programs],” said Wright. “The key is to build these programs so that we capitalize on the links that are possible between undergraduate programs and graduate programs.”

Wright believes IWU will be seeing many more “three-plus-two” programs where students complete three years of undergraduate school and two years of a master’s program.

IWU proposed many new educational options at the meeting. The university is taking advantage of its many options to improve to move forward academically.

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Facilities Services to take down fountain

By Angelica Huffman and Brandon Stilabower, contributing writers

The fountain outside Jackson Library has been an IWU landmark for more than a decade. It will be removed later this fall.

The fountain outside Jackson Library has been an IWU landmark for more than a decade. It will be removed later this fall. // Photo by Lauren Dafoe

The fountain outside of the Jackson Library in Eastburn Plaza, a campus landmark for more than a decade, will be disassembled and removed for good in the coming weeks, according to Assistant Vice President of Facilities Services, Don Rowley.

“Probably after Grandparents Weekend, you’ll see us disassembling it,” Rowley said.

The fountain, which was installed about 12 years ago with the completion of the library, is made of fiberglass, rather than concrete. Several cracks and dips are now visible, due to years of wear.

The lifecycle of fiberglass is about 10 to 15 years, Rowley said.

“We’ve done what we can and we’re really at our limits as far as making repairs,” Rowley said.  “There’s a lot of band-aids behind the scenes that people don’t see that we’ve put on to make it last this long.”

Sitting and walking on the fountain has contributed to its current state, Rowley said. Students’ soaping pranks have made no impact on the basic structure, though they have led to the replacement of several pumps.

But Rowley doesn’t place the blame on students.

“Everything has a life expectancy. This one is at its life expectancy,” Rowley said. “There’s no blame to be cast on any students.”

This discussion is at the cabinet level of the institution now, involving Indiana Wesleyan University President David Wright, Dr. Keith Newman and John Jones, who is the Vice President of Operations.

The group is hoping to bring another iconic item to campus, in place of the fountain.

With a statue, Rowley suggested, there is less opportunity for mischief to occur. But even the hallowed John Wesley statue has been subject to various kinds of mischief—underwear placed on its head, receiving a lei around its neck, and, in recent days, a pumpkin splattered on its form.

“With any feature, there’s going to be a level of mischief associated with it,” Rowley said.

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IWU engages students and alumni with new Homecoming events

Indiana Wesleyan University’s Young Alumni Advisory Council is helping to ensure both students and alumni have reason to stay on campus for Homecoming Weekend this year with two new events Saturday.

The council is introducing “Life Post-McConn” and “What You Need to Know to Buy and Sell,” according to Director of Alumni Relations Rick Carder (alumnus ‘87), both of which are open to students and alumni.

At “Life Post-McConn,” former and current McConn baristas will share tips from their experience brewing coffee. Carder said there will be several stations scattered around the commons with different people presenting on coffee-related topics.

IMG_1326“Maybe the best experience you’re going to have at IWU is going to be related to McConn,” Carder said. “We wanted to bring back former McConn baristas who can share ways to have the McConn experience at home, how to have the brewing techniques without the expense and how to make some of the specialty drinks.”

Council member Aaron Baker (alumnus ‘07), a former Student Government Association president at IWU, was one of the main people involved in coming up with the new sessions.  He added current McConn baristas will also share about the latest drink trends on campus.

“It’s kind of cool to come back to campus and find out about drinks that weren’t around when I was here are like ‘the thing,’” Baker said. “The Cuban Latte was something I hadn’t heard about until I came back.”

Baker, however, said he will be more involved with the “What You Need to Know to Buy and Sell” session. He works as an attorney at Keister & Baker Law Offices, where he specializes in real estate, estate planning and business law.

Baker and three other IWU alumni in finance-related professions will share on topics such as buying houses, investments and flipping properties, Carder said.

Both events are advancing the bigger mission the Student Government Association had when Baker was an SGA member: improving the Homecoming experience for students.

“When I was a freshman, we would go off campus [during Homecoming weekend] because old people were coming back and it was going to be a drag,” Baker said. “If students didn’t even want to stay on campus during Homecoming, why would they ever want to come back [as alumni]?”

Since Baker has graduated, IWU has started scheduling concerts more geared toward students, such as Jon McLaughlin in 2012 and 2013 and Shawn McDonald this year. Baker hopes “Life Post-McConn” and “What You Need to Know to Buy and Sell” and other future events will continue to engage students in the Homecoming experience.

“Life Post-McConn” will take place Saturday at 11:10 a.m. in the Barnes Student Center Commons, and “What You Need to Know to Buy and Sell” at 1:30 p.m. in Maxwell Center Room 122. Each session will last about one hour, Carder said. There is no fee to participate.

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“An Evening with Luther Lee”: the biggest thing since Chick-fil-A

IWU's Globe Theatre, where Bence will portray Wesleyan co-founder, Luther Lee. // Photo by Hannah Whelchel

IWU’s Globe Theatre, where Bence will portray Wesleyan co-founder, Luther Lee. // Photo by Hannah Whelchel

“Why Luther Lee? He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page,” Dr. Rusty Hawkins, associate professor of humanities and history, prompted. “Why this ‘Evening with Luther Lee’?”

“An Evening with Luther Lee” is an event occurring 7-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, in the Globe Theatre, in order to introduce the Luther Lee Lecture Series. The series starts this spring and will continue “from here until eternity,” according to Hawkins.

The John Wesley Honors College and Global Engagement Office partnered together to make this lecture series possible, Hawkins said. While naming the series, it occurred to them that “no one knows who Luther Lee is.”

Hence, “An Evening with Luther Lee” — a dramatic performance by Dr. Bud Bence, emeritus professor of church history at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Lee was a 19th century abolitionist, radical women’s feminist and one of the founders of the Wesleyan denomination. He preached the ordination sermon for the first female pastor in the United States, Hawkins said, and he also helped out with the Underground Railroad. He was committed to the idea of social equality across class.

“Luther Lee is this perfect kind of figure for talking about ideas of race, class and gender,” Hawkins said.

Bence will be portraying Lee for the first half of the performance, talking about Lee’s life and times, and then taking questions from the audience for the second half. This will be the third time Bence has performed as Lee.

His first performance as a historical character was 25 years ago in a class he taught. He played the apostle Paul.

“It had quite a reputation,” Bence said, “because I walked in dressed as I am now, and removed some of my clothing, enough that the students were getting worried, and then switched to my apostle Paul costume. … I taught it at 7:50 in the morning, and I had to wake them up one way or another.”

Through his dialogue on Luther Lee, Bence plans on raising questions, such as, “Is there some higher law than the laws of government? Or the laws of society? Are there places to use the words in the Bible, ‘We must obey God rather than humans’?”

Bence sees Lee as a great way of introducing students to the issues of today, like human trafficking and women’s rights.

“That’s what I hope this evening will be,” Bence said. “It’s not just a story. … [It asks the question of what] it means to be a pioneer, to be an advocate for justice, and how do you go about doing that?”

“I’m hoping that [the lecture series] will give the idea that a Christian college can be at the cutting edge of issues of social justice, where typically Christians are conservative,” Bence said. “I’d like to see students who could be a little bit radical where they see injustice.”

The purpose of the Luther Lee series in the spring “is to bring in an outside expert who can talk about race, class, gender, and the Christian faith,” Hawkins said. “It’s a lecture series that’s really based on trying to bring reconciliation to our community, and so we’re actually going to focus on lines in which we’re divided, so race, class, gender, and then talk about how Christianity calls us to overcome those lines.”

This spring’s speaker will be Christena Cleveland, a social psychologist at Bethel University in Minnesota. She will speak in chapel and have a lecture that same evening.

In the future, Hawkins hopes to record Bence’s performance and play it over a 3-minute documentary on Lee’s life. Students can watch this documentary before the Luther Lee lectures in chapel so that they understand why the series is named after him.

“Everyone is cordially invited to this event, [‘An Evening with Luther Lee’],” Hawkins said, “but you want to get there early, because there are only 200 seats in Globe Theatre and this is going to be huge. This might be the biggest deal on campus since, really since Chick-fil-A came to town.”

The Board of Trustees plans to attend, Hawkins said. Announcements of this event have also been sent to the Wesleyan headquarters and all 106 Wesleyan pastors in the district, who have been telling their congregations.

“I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it was a packed house that night,” Hawkins said.

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