The rich history of traditions at Indiana Wesleyan University are not limited to the IWU-Marion campus. IWU’s National & Global community has a flourishing history of traditions.
The very first tradition of N&G is its unique learning modality, formerly referred to as “cohorts.”
N&G, founded in 1985, allows working adults and other non-traditional students with unique scheduling needs to earn their college degree; N&G students enjoy the intimate learning setting that reflects their needs and allows courses to be completed in manageable yet concentrated periods. Students in these “cohorts” tend to form close relationships with their peers, in spite of the fact that they may never have met face-to-face! These deep connections became a tradition so strong, graduation ceremonies on the Marion campus would facilitate gatherings for cohorts to finally meet in person.
The online-only segment is only a part of N&G. The regional education centers have their own traditions. Graduates of IWU’s RNBSN program describe a tradition that stems from their studies together that aligns with their vocation: the anointing of hands. Nurses who are already practicing professionals can earn their Bachelor of Nursing degree post-licensure. In the field of nursing, Registered Nurses use their hands to provide excellent, compassionate care, hence the anointing of hands during their graduation ceremony to symbolize how they have surrendered their work to serve God.
Indiana Wesleyan University’s traditional 4-year residential campus, online-only cohorts, hybrid, and in-person regional education centers serve a variety of student populations with unique paths to graduation. No matter the connection to IWU, students, faculty, and staff are eager to share about the customs, traditions, ceremonies, jokes and pranks, and times of devotions and worship that make being a part of the IWU community special. There is little doubt that if you earned a degree from IWU, worked for the University, or stepped foot on campus, you too have been a part of the rich history of traditions that IWU boasts.
This article was prepared with the help of Deedee Smith. Deedee is the Director of Regional Alumni Engagement For IWU National and Global. She has been with IWU for 12 years and lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Deedee loves meeting new people in the capacity of her job and hearing their amazing stories.
What a wondrous time of year when we celebrate our risen Lord and Savior! We trust you had a wonderful Easter. As we move past our Easter celebration, your Presidential Search Committee (PSC), alongside Carter Baldwin, our search firm, continues the progress through our process to find the next president for IWU. We are meeting the expected timeline, and candidates continue to express interest and communicate confidentially with Carter Baldwin. In a recent PSC update meeting with Carter Baldwin, they shared their satisfaction with the pace and engagement of the candidate pool. They noted potential candidates hold IWU in high regard and have shared many positive accolades about our institution.
As we move into the next few weeks, Carter Baldwin will continue to pursue candidates and conduct interviews with selected candidates. We are entering a critical time in the search, and we ask that you continue to pray (and fast). Specifically, pray that Carter Baldwin will discern God’s will as they finalize the candidate pool and begin to help the PSC narrow the field down. We are confident in God’s direction and are looking forward with great expectation to engaging the high-quality candidate pool that is being secured.
Simply put, our search for IWU’s next president continues:
It is proceeding on an expected timeline.
We have a like-minded partner in Carter Baldwin who is securing a high-quality pool of candidates.
The PSC is not wavering from the non-negotiables that the Board of Trustees established
God is with us.
Chair, presidential search committee
Even as the world changes, the most beloved traditions of IWU continue on.
This past December, just before students left for the Christmas holidays, students were given the opportunity to have a Christmas holiday with their friends at IWU Twas the Night. This holiday celebration featured hot cocoa, homemade crafts, and a sleigh ride, but most of all, featured good cheer!
IWU’s Director of Community Learning, Jonny Rupp, has the following to share: “This is a personal favorite of mine (but I love Christmas)! This is our time as a campus to just come together (before the rush of finals) to celebrate Christmas…together! We’ve done everything from caroling, A Christmas Story being read to us, real live reindeer, and even a skating rink in the middle of The Commons with subtle ‘fake’ snow falling from the ceiling throughout the evening. It is so exciting to see everyone come with their ‘ugly Christmas sweaters’ and cheerful holiday spirit as we eat Christmas cookies, write encouragement cards to local nursing homes, etc. It’s a beautiful event and one I look forward to every year.”
The season of traditions continued this January with Rebash! A celebration that allows students to commemorate the new year with their friends, while possibly earning a little money from the famous balloon drop. This year’s celebration encouraged students to dress in their favorite black and white fashions and take pictures with their friends at a photo booth.
Jonny Rupp describes the birth of this exciting event: “Dancing was not always permitted on this campus. However, after much thoughtful discussion, that rule changed a few years ago. It came with a few safeguards to make sure music is appropriate and various safety precautions were in place, but thankfully ‘Rebash’ is what bloomed from those conversations. It is by far one of our best-attended events, drawing 50% of our Residential Student Body…that’s amazing! It’s our way of ushering in the New Year together as a student body. We even do a ‘fan favorite’ of a count-down-balloon-drop to conclude the evening.”
In addition to these newer traditions, some beloved older traditions are still alive and well on campus. Friday Night Live, the campus sketch comedy group, has consistently delivered fun and wholesome comedy shows to the students of IWU for over 25 years, delivering their most recent show on February 25th, 2022.
“We’ve been an official club for 27 years,” Jeremy Hallett, the creative director of FNL explained, “but FNL has been something that’s been going on for probably closer to like 40+ years. It’s a super old, super important tradition here at IWU. We’re super proud to carry on the tradition and we’re looking forward to bringing FNL to another generation and continuing it on for many years to come.”
What is your favorite IWU event? Share your memories in the comments below!
As you have probably already have heard by now, Dr. David Wright has announced his retirement from IWU effective June 30, 2022. Shortly after Dr. Wright announced his retirement, the Board of Trustees (BOT) met to establish a Presidential Search Committee (PSC). The PSC has representatives from the Board of Trustees, Faculty, Wildcat Council, and the Wesleyan Church. As the process moves forward, we desire to gather input from internal and external stakeholders and will be reaching out to establish an advisory committee to support this work.
The BOT understands that for the PSC to discern God’s will for IWU’s next President, we have to have a foundation rooted in prayer. The BOT has asked Dr. Jim “Umfundisi”+ Lo to support the PSC as a prayer warrior and to encourage the IWU community to pray. We believe God has great plans for IWU and will provide us with the necessary new leader to transition the university into a successful future. As we pray for God to give us wisdom and discernment, we remember Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We fully trust and believe that God will lead us to His choice for President as long as we continue to have a foundation of prayer.
The BOT has determined that the new President must have three characteristics. These requirements are non-negotiable and will be the foundation for candidates we are considering:
Devoted Follower of Christ Who Continually Seeks God’s Heart
Strong Dedication to IWU’s Mission
In Full Agreement with Wesleyan Theology and the Wesleyan Church
The PSC has hired a search firm to assist in our search. There are many benefits to engaging a firm, and it is considered best practice in finding a world-class executive to lead the institution. The PSC believes a firm will provide the following value to the process:
Expertise in guiding the process with their knowledge of a President’s role and position
An extensive network of connections to find qualified candidates
Screening of candidates to discover the most qualified candidates for IWU’s next President
Tod Dalberg, VP for External Affairs, serves as the university’s liaison to the PSC. Please feel free to respond to him with questions regarding this process. You can reach him via email at email@example.com.
Please join Dr. Lo, the BOT, the PSC, and our community as we continue to pray for wisdom and discernment as we select IWU’s next President.
We received over 50 submissions for our IWU Valentine’s Day contest, and have loved reading each and every one. These are the stories only God can write! From coffee dates at McConn to proposals at the Williams Prayer Chapel, game nights in dorm lobbies to long conversations in Baldwin, the IWU campus has had the privilege of connecting generations of students in lifelong relationships.
While this article highlights the special gift of marriage, we recognize that there have been other special relationships formed at IWU with friends and professors with stories just as beautiful. Take a moment this Valentine’s Day to thank God for the blessing they have been in your life and send them a note of encouragement.
And now, without further ado, please enjoy these three featured IWU love stories, and a special Alumni staff member’s love story, in the words of those who are living them!
Names: Josh ’15 and Ashley (Foote) ‘ 14 Witkowski
Years Married: 5
Story (as told by Ashley):It was the second day of classes at the beginning of a new school year. We happened to meet randomly (or, not so randomly!) in the lobby of South Hall. We hung out with mutual friends a few times before I got a call one night from Josh. He was at the intramural football fields on campus and needed to get to Marion General Hospital for a severely dislocated pinky finger, and I was the only person he knew with access to a car. The rest is history – and Josh still has a slightly crooked pinky to remind us of those early days.
Post-Graduation:Josh is an investment consultant at Charles Schwab, and Ashley is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom. We live in Westfield, Indiana, with our 16-month-old daughter, Peyton.
Names: Mark ’07 and Helen (Strycker) ’08 Mahoney
Years Married: 13
Story (as told by Helen):Mark and I were introduced by Dr. Wilbur Williams. We had both had a “Coffee Date” with him the same week and he wanted us to meet. On a Friday in October, we had a blind date, going to a haunted house with a junior high youth group. We had plenty of time to ask a million questions and even talk about beliefs and how much God means to us. By the end of the night, we knew that we wanted to see more of each other. A little over a year later, Mark proposed to me (an elaborate scavenger hunt all over campus that even included me walking and talking with Dr. Wilbur Williams!). We were married the next summer after I graduated.
Post-Graduation:We have been married for 13 and 1/2 years. We have three amazing children, Liam (7), Lily (5), and Kendrick (3). Mark has been in youth ministry for 14 years with me serving as a volunteer beside him. I do some camp nursing, but mostly am a stay-at-home mom. We love playing volleyball together at our local YMCA. There are opportunities to play Frisbee disc golf and hike. We also enjoy watching football and movies.
Names: David ’69 and Pat (Walter) ’67 Troyer
Years Married: 52
Story (as told by David):When I entered Marion College in the fall of 1965, I assumed I would meet my future wife there. At that time, it was probably more of a priority than getting a fine education. I had dates with a few girls—some more steady than others—during the first part of my freshman year. But then I met Pat Walter. [Not Walters – she made it plain she was singular.]
Her roommate and I attended Home Corner Wesleyan Church in Marion, chauffeured by one of the college professors, Dr. Byron Tippey. One encouragement (as I remember it) from Dr. Tippey, I sat beside Pat. I asked her for a date to an upcoming Fine Arts or Audubon program at McConn Chapel on the campus. Our first date was on April 1, 1966. After the program, we played a board game in the Student Center in the Library basement.
I dated a few other ladies after that, until my second date with Pat in May, and then I was on the hook—no more dates with anyone but Pat. After some of our dates we would take a “shortcut” to her dorm through the orchard.
She had a call from the Lord to Native American ministry, and I had to pray through about that before I could ask her if she wanted to spend the rest of her life as my wife. I did and she said YES.
Pat graduated in 1967 and I graduated in 1969. We were married on July 19, 1969. It was Pat’s parents’ 28th and my parents’ 27th anniversaries.
Post-Graduation:We spent 35 years in Native American ministry for the Lord and the Wesleyan Church, as teachers and principal at Brainerd Indian School in Hot Springs, South Dakota, and at Wesleyan Sioux Christian Academy in Fort Thompson, South Dakota, and then as pastor and Wife at Lake Andes Wesleyan Chapel, in Lake Andes, South Dakota, on the Yankton Sioux Reservation.
My sister and two brothers found their spouses at Marion College. Our three children are graduates of Indiana Wesleyan University as are two of their spouses.
We have retired to LaOtto, Indiana, where I drive public transportation and Pat keeps the house. We are active in the Cultivate (Wesleyan) Church and are living happily ever after.
Names: Michael ’00 ’11 and Krista (Nyquist) ’05 Brown
Years Married: 25
Story (as told by Krista):Mike and I met briefly at FNL in the spring of 1995. He swept in at the last minute, put on his Swedish Chef costume and microphone, jumped up on the stage and he. was. hilarious. We didn’t actually get to know one another until that summer. I was traveling on one of the Summer Ministry Teams and ended up at a camp in North Carolina (shout out to North Carolina East camp!). Who should walk into the counselor meeting but none other than Mike Brown. Mike had been on one of the traveling teams the year before and loved that camp so volunteered to come back that summer to be on staff. By the end of the week, I was smitten. We spend the rest of the summer writing letters and started dating when we got back to campus in the fall. There were many walks around campus. (We even explored the PPAC while it was still being built. Mike’s idea…not mine.) By November we both knew that we had found the one that we would spend our lives with and were married in October of 1996.
Post-Graduation:We have been married for 25 years and we reside in Marion, Indiana. We have 8 kids (plus 2 wonderful daughters in law), 2 grand kids and 2 dogs. Mike recently graduated with his doctorate in Missiology. He teaches and writes for IWU National and Global. Krista works for IWU in the Alumni and Parent Relations office.
The advent of Indiana Wesleyan University’s football team was hailed as an exciting step for the college, and now a group of students has worked to mark their arrival with music. Meet the IWU Marching Wildcats!
The IWU Marching Band was started last year through the hard work of Professor Michael Flanagin, Professor Briana Blankenship, and several of their students. These dedicated student musicians have been diligently striving to bring the delight of musical performance to every IWU home football game. Entertaining crowds is not the sole purpose of this marching band; they also seek to praise God through their music. To this end, the marching band has begun a tradition of closing each game with the doxology, along with the football team, giving thanks to God together. This special tradition really contributes to making the IWU Marching Band a unique program.
Students who participate in marching band have found that this new program provides a unique sense of community that can be hard to replicate. Many students even go so far as to describe the band as “a family.” Members speak of the skills the IWU Marching Band is teaching them in both learning to communicate with and trust their leaders and bandmates; they are also learning to become leaders themselves. Gwenivere Seegers, a senior music education student and a drum major in the marching band, describes these benefits, saying, “The leadership skills and work ethic required for marching band will help me not only in my career, but in everyday life!”
The IWU Marching Band has already left a tangible mark beyond just the campus. Students who have attended IWU in the past few years are familiar with an abandoned grocery store at the end of the deserted parking lot on 45th street, but now that building has been transformed into a practice space for the marching band where the Marching Wildcats can hone their skills. The location adds the benefit of allowing routines to remain a surprise up until showtime!
The students who participate in the marching band wanted to take a moment to extend a special “Thank you!” to the alumni who have donated funds to start and sustain the program.
“While the ensemble is just starting, it’s going to be very impactful for both music majors and non-music majors.” Taylor Sprinkle, a senior music education student and one of the drum majors in the marching band says. “I’m very proud of everyone who’s taken part in it so far, and very excited to see where this will go.”
Written by Emily Bays, Student Blog Writer
Click here to read more about the start of the IWU Marching Band.
Rev. Dr. George Plasterer ’74 published a 2-volume work, In the School of Scripture with Karl Barth: A Discussion of Church Dogmatics (Pinnacle Leadership Press, 2021).
Mike Keaffaber ’85 is celebrating the marriage of his son and fellow IWU alumnus, Grant Keaffaber, who was married December 19, 2020.
Lenora (Durham) Eastes ’87 is celebrating becoming a new great-great-great grandmother in Swayzee, IN.
John Kynek ’93 is now retired and enjoys traveling with his wife and spending time with their children, their spouses, and grandchildren.
Darren Anderson ’96 is the Lead Pastor at Waypoint Community Church in Zeeland, MI and the father to two girls: Providence and Hosanna.
Tim Mulherin ’98 has published a collection of nonfiction essays and stories entitled Sand, Stars, Wind, & Water: Field Notes from Up North. The predominant themes are identity, place, and belonging; an enduring best friendship; and the increasing interest in and pressure on Michigan’s Great Lakes regions from visitors and how to respect this national treasure and the people who call it home. The pieces convey this by chronicling his outdoor adventures over the past 30+ years in northwest lower Michigan. Click here to read more about Tim and his work.
Robert Mondor ’01 is celebrating his son graduating from the Louisiana Center for the Blind and becoming a US citizen.
Julia Hurlow ’04 published the book Transcendence at the Table: A Transfigurational Experience While Breaking Bread Together, available on Amazon.
Zachary Bahorik ’05 is a Partner in the Business Law Practice Group of Ulmer & Berne LLP in Cincinnati, OH.
Jonathan Schaller ’07 is a visiting Assistant Professor of Instrumental and General Music Education at the Crane School of Music, State University of New York College at Potsdam. He graduated with his PhD in Music Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in August, 2021.
Detra L. Mills, MBA ’08 is the Executive Vice President & General Counsel for The Basement, a full-service integrated agency in Indianapolis that delivers radical clarity to agile brands by leveraging modern storytelling and data. In her role, Detra provides operational leadership and legal guidance in service to the productivity, development, and advancement of one of the fastest growing agencies in the US. Detra and her husband, Doug, have four adult children and reside on the North Side of Indy.
Elijah McKnight ’08 is a Counselor at Community Medical Services in Marion, IN.
Belinda (Matheny) King ’10 was appointed and promoted from Vice President to President/CEO of Disciples Church Extension Fun.
Alicia Abney ’15 was promoted to the Academic Advising Manager for the Middle Tennessee State University College of Education. She was also the recipient of the October 2021 Woman of Achievement Award through Women in Higher Education – Tennessee. Click here to read more.
Dr. Michael Blanchard ’15 co-authored the following article entitled “Are Current Security Protocols the Best Use of Funds in Public Schools.” Click this link to read.
Parker ’16 and Faith Snowden welcomed a baby girl, Avis, on October 12, 2021. She joins sister Charity (4) and brother Bardon (2). The Snowdens live in Elkhart, IN.
Tyler Laubach ’16 has completed medical school at Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine and has entered residency at the University of Kansas School of Medicine – Wichita Family Medicine Residency Program at Ascension Via Christi Hospitals in Wichita, Kansas.
Justin McMurray ’18 is a doctoral student at George Fox University, specializing in Accounting and Management.
Taylor Shippy ’18 has been the Pastor of Gibbon Baptist Church in Gibbon, NE for one year. He received his Master of Divinity after completing seminary this past May, with preparation from IWU and STM.
Brianna Tragesser ’21 began her social work career as the Social Services Coordinator at Janus Developmental Services in Noblesville, IN.
For the past few weeks, I have sensed the Lord speaking to my heart that it would be good for IWU to take time to pray and fast as a community. We are living in times when we truly need the presence, power, and provision of the Lord. I sense there is so much more God wants to do for our university!
The following quotes spur me on in the area of fasting and praying. Andrew Murray wrote: Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.
John Wesley preached: Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; support the tottering knees. Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down.
Even though I have sensed the Lord calling our community to prayer, I hesitated even to suggest it. But quotes by Dwight Moody and Hudson Taylor changed my mind. They are powerfully convicting:
Dwight L. Moody wrote, “If you say “I will fast when God lays it on my heart,” you never will. You are too cold and indifferent to take the yoke upon you.
Having been a missionary, I love the words of Hudson Taylor, “In Shansi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed to spend time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, which requires faith in God, since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a Divinely appointed means of grace. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are-dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon.”
I spoke to Dr. David Wright about IWU and Wesley Seminary ‘instituting’ a time for fasting. He enthusiastically gave the green light to move forward! We would also like to invite our IWU alumni to participate as well.
When: Wednesdays in December (12/8 – 12/29) – lunchtime (or if you cannot do Wednesday, fast one meal during the week on behalf of IWU and Wesley Seminary.)
Where: We do not need to gather together, but fast where ever you may be.
For those who can, Williams prayer chapel will be open during Wednesday lunch for whoever wants to ‘gather.’
Individuals can come and go as their schedule requires.
There is something powerful that happens when believers fast and pray at the same time. By faith, I believe we will see even more amazing miracles from the hand of God at this beloved university.
From 1999 to 2003, Phillip Allen Shaw participated in unique college traditions such as Friday Night Live, the Student Government Organization, open-mic poetry night, and enjoyed the old McConn Coffee shop. When he graduated with a B.S. degree in Secondary Education and a minor in Biblical Literature, Shaw pursued studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in New Testament (M.A.) and Biblical Languages (M.A.). After that, it was on to the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University for additional Graduate Studies in Semitics.
Phillip spent thirteen years teaching at a classical Christian preparatory school, where he helped students develop a greater awareness of God’s presence in the world by cultivating the transcendental realities of truth, goodness, and beauty. He also spent a couple of summers learning Classical Latin at the University of Notre Dame.
Almost eighteen years after a travel abroad trip to England with Dr. Jerry Pattengale and Dr. David Riggs, Shaw was finally reintroduced to the Dean of the John Wesley Honors College (JWHC), where he is now teaching Great Texts I in Context, and Great Texts II in Context. “What could be better than teaching Homer and Dante?”
Coming back to teach at IWU has been enlivening for Shaw. When asked what advice he would give to a fellow alum who wanted to come back to teach at IWU, Shaw offered: “Bring the wisdom of your life experience with you, not just the time that you had as a student, for the benefit of the next generation of students.”
“I am especially thankful for the hospitality I have received in the John Wesley Honors College, and honored to have Dr. Riggs as my mentor, to share in dialogue about the eternal verities. And, I also really like the cherry tomatoes in Baldwin too.”
This semester Shaw has taught from Homer, Sophocles, Euripides, Vergil, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Voltaire, and Frederick Douglass. “It’s been a great semester back, full stop.”
Homecoming week came to Indiana Wesleyan University on October 13th and it certainly made a mark! In many ways, students and facilitators saw this as something of a double celebration since COVID-19 had cancelled plans to have a Homecoming weekend in 2020, an important year that marked the 100-year anniversary of the college, and every effort was made to ensure that that the 2021 Homecoming was a celebration to remember.
The week officially began with a scholarship luncheon where students who had received scholarships from private donors were given the opportunity to dine with their sponsors and thank them for their gift. That same evening, the residence halls gathered on the Beckett Lawn to compete in the Derby, a race featuring all sorts of unconventional modes of transportation such as big wheels and giant bouncy balls.
On Friday, students all gathered for a special Homecoming chapel before the alumni who had come to campus gathered for the 50th class reunion luncheon.
Friday evening, students and alumni were treated to a very special event. The Evening of Celebration began with the honoring of the 2020 and 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, and featured a special concert by the IWU Chorale. The centerpiece of the event was the talk given by VeggieTales co-creator, Phil Vischer. A dessert reception in the Student Center Piazza followed the talk. That same evening, Student Activities Council put on Fallapalooza, a fall-themed event featuring spiced cider, fresh popcorn, and fun dances.
On Saturday, Lasana Ritchie and Malana Harpst, the daughters of Wilbur and Ardelia Williams, hosted an event in the Noggle Christian Ministries Center where they explained the significance of the stained glass windows their mother designed and crafted for the building. Following this, the IWU Marching Band gave an excellent concert prior to the football game between IWU and Lawrence Tech, a team that had previously gone undefeated. To the surprise and joy of many, IWU soundly beat them 35-0. After the game, the acclaimed musical trio Selah led the community in a great night of worship, joined by the IWU Chorale.
It is fair to say that IWU had a very happy 100th birthday as students and alumni thoroughly enjoyed the weekend’s activities and celebrations. David Rash, a returning IWU alumnus summarized the experience this way, “I found the return to the IWU campus to be a wonderful experience. The weekend was well organized…with opportunities to renew old acquaintances and make new ones.”
Did you attend Homecoming 2021? Feel free to share your experience with us in the comments below. Please join us for next year’s Homecoming on October 22, 2022!