When the Wildcats go Marching In

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.



Alumni News – Fall 2021


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.






A Message from Dr. Jim Lo

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 presencepower, 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.

The plan:

  • 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.


“Umfundisi+” Jim+, Campus Intercessor


The Student Becomes the Teacher: Phillip Allan Shaw’s Return

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.

Professor Phillip Allen Shaw and mentor Dr. David Riggs

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.”

Written by Emily Bays, Student Blog Writer




Homecoming 2021 Recap!

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.”

The new IWU inflatable on its inaugural day! A big hit with kids – young and old. 🙂

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!

Written by Emily Bays, Student Blog Writer



Coffee & Connection with Dr. Bud Bence

Dr. Bud Bence, a long-time professor at Indiana Wesleyan University who has now retired, is best remembered by his students for two things: his love for his students and his love for coffee.

“No one ever saw Professor Bence without his coffee cup,” Jeremy Bays, a former student of Dr. Bence recalls, “I’m pretty sure the only time he put it down was to pray.”

Bence began teaching at IWU in 1982 after having taught at United Wesleyan University for five years. When United Wesleyan closed, Bence came to what was then Marion College and stayed for 23 years, including the three years he served as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Bence particularly enjoyed teaching freshmen and sophomores. He loved to see their eyes light up as they learned new information and discovered new ideas, and he expressed this love by helping to develop one of the very first classes that all freshmen were required to take.

As he taught, Bence tried to be intentional about challenging his students to truly integrate what they were learning into their lives beyond the classroom. He encouraged students to do more than just learn facts about the Bible, he invited them to consider how they would let this knowledge change their lives.

Even though he is now retired, Bence and his wife Carol, who taught in the IWU School of Nursing until her own retirement, continue to stay connected to the student body. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bence would often visit campus two or three times a week to connect with students. Even if they don’t physically come to the campus as often, the Bences continue to remain connected to the heart and soul of IWU.

Looking forward, Bence hopes to continue to be a mentor and an encouragement to the IWU student body. Future classes will continue to rely on his wise guidance, which can easily be procured through the purchase of a cup of coffee.

Written by Emily Bays, Student Blog Writer





Alumni News – Summer 2021


Larry Oden ’75 wrote and published the book Holding an Edge: A Guide to Sixty Years of BUCK Factory Production Knives.

William Westafer ’78 retired from the First Baptist Church of Cowpens, SC and published Clergy Stress: Causes and Cures available on Amazon.

Robert Patterson ’79 completed 25 years as the IT manager for General Tire Wabash and 14 years as a programmer and system analyst at Weaver Popcorn in Van Buren, IN. He is currently enjoying retirement in Indiana and Foley, Alabama.


Anthony Abell ’97 is Vice President for Enrollment at Trinity College in Trinity, FL. He continues in his adjunct professor roles at both Trinity College and Saint Petersburg College.

Marcus Kephart ’98 is a Commanding Officer of the Electronic Attack Squadron 132 – a US Navy Unit that flies the EA-18G Growler.


Will Sims ’00 is the Founder and CEO of Tru-Spot Technologies in Pelahatchie, MS.

James Rowland ’00 is serving as a Police Officer assigned to the Air Support Unit (drones) of the Fort Wayne, IN Police Department.

Ann Johansson ’07 completed her PhD in Nursing in April 2018 and Doctor of Nursing Practice in August 2020 at the University of Pittsburgh. Ann is currently working as a nurse practitioner in the Department of Medical Genetics at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Lindsay Rapini ’07 was honored with a DAISY Award at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital for the high level of care she shows towards her patients.

Lisa S. Chambers ’08 is the program director for the Prestera Center for Mental Health in Mason County, WV.

Matthew Prost ’09 is the General Manager and COO of the Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit, MI.


Robert Anderson ’10 completed his MBA with the IU Kelley School of Business and is currently working as the Account Manager for Eli Lilly and Company.

Dawn Pittinger ’13MBA17 is a Research Billing Compliance Manager at Moffitt Cancer Center and is on track to become a doctoral graduate in the inaugural DBA program at IWU.

Jenn Phillips ’15 is a Financial Advisor at Northwestern Mutual in SC. Her regions team experienced a historic moment when herself and two other women became the first females to ever lead their district’s monthly leader board.

Michael K Blanchard ’15 has recently published two books available on Amazon: The Black Book of Lamentations and A Community Research Guide to Student Persistence: Research-Based Strategies to Improve Student Persistence.

Laura Schmidt ’17 is a Chief Human Resources Officer at Marburn Academy in New Albany, OH.

Sherri Smith ’17 is the new Event Services Coordinator at IUPUI in Indianapolis, IN.

Abbie Grisham ’17 is a self-employed author who released her first book June 2021.

Susan Manser ’17 is the Senior Coordinator of Treasury Services at Raytheon Technologies and serves on the board of UR Community Cares, Inc.

Sheryl Hayes ’18 is an ICU Charge Nurse for Licking Memorial Health Systems in Ohio and a Clinical Adjunct Professor for Central Ohio Technical College.

Patrick Donahue ’18 is the VP of Leadership Development at Danaher Corporation. He has also written and published The Power of Genuine Leadership: How Authentic Leaders Earn Trust, available on Amazon.

Bradford Denham ’19 was promoted to Lead Project Manager at L3Harris Technologies in Salt Lake City, UT.

Maggie O’Heran ’19 is the owner and CEO of Magpie Weddings, specializing in unique floral designs, in Bloomington, IN.


Heather Martinez ’20 is an SSA (Service & Support Administrator) at the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities in Lima, OH.

Tanika Edmonds ’20 is a motivational speaker, writer, and published author. She is also a co-founder of Be A Bridge & Elevate (BABE), an organization that uplifts women and connects communities.

Carol Oliver ’20 is a Vendor Management Professional at Humana in Louisville, KY.

Thomas K-Johnson ’21 is the Founder and Executive Director of The Kneeland Center for Poetry, Inc – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that discovers and enhances the works of underrepresented poets across the globe.

Birth Announcements

Olivia Brooke Dongell was born April 3, 2020 to Oliver Brent Dongell ’06 and his wife, Natasha.


Margot Patricia Colwell was born May 20, 2021 to Justin ’16 and Melia (Sneden) ’15 Colwell.







Providing Hope and Help: The Delp Story

During a chapel service one day at IWU, Joel Delp began to hear the LORD calling him, beckoning him into ministry. At the time, he was a computer science and mathematics double major, but this calling prompted him to switch his second major to psychology and add a minor in Christian ministries.

Kim Delp, by contrast, has felt a strong call to missionary work ever since she was ten years old. To facilitate this calling, she became a nurse and then a Nurse Practitioner. After she and Joel went on a mission trip together, they started sensing their two callings merging into one and they realized they were being called into mission work together as husband and wife.

After being married by Jim Lo, the couple moved to Chicago where they quickly became involved in their local church’s mission trips to Ecuador. Their relationships with the people and churches in Ecuador began to deepen, and it became clear that God had been in Ecuador preparing a way for a partnership between the Delps and Ecuadorian leadership long before the Delps arrived. These mission trips, and the relationships they built through them, became the genesis of The Santiago Partnership. The Santiago Partnership is an Ecuadorian-led project that, among other things, aims to provide healthcare to medically underserved communities through a medical clinic and to serve at-risk children and their families through a home for vulnerable children. The project partners with the local and national church and hopes to continue to serve together in partnership with Ecuadorian indigenous leadership.

When Joel and Kim first moved to Ecuador in 2010, there were some frustrating language and cultural barriers. However, as the Delps acclimated to their surroundings and allowed the local people to lead the project, the amazing growth they began to see in their ministry encouraged them and allowed them to become excited about their future. Although the culture they were raised in taught them that they needed to have everything in order, Ecuadorian leadership led “con fe” or “with faith” that God would provide, and did He ever! The clinic has seen over 20,000 patients in 5 years and the home has reunified 26 children with their families.

Today the Delps remain in Ecuador raising their three children, two of whom were born in Ecuador and possess dual citizenship, while their first child was three months old when they moved to Ecuador. They are eager to see what God will do next in their project, one of their goals being to get the project totally self-sustainable without any need for foreign aid.

Moving their young family to Ecuador was a big step of faith for the Delps, but God has used their obedience to accomplish amazing things in their community, and there is every reason to believe that He will continue to use the Delps as his instrument to improve their corner of the globe.

Written By Emily Bays


Streams of Hope, How IWU has been connecting to God in the Pandemic

Indiana Wesleyan University has a long and proud history of connecting students to God, and one of the most prominent ways that connection happens is through chapel services. Under normal circumstances, the entire student body of IWU’s residential campus gathers in the chapel auditorium three times a week to worship together.

The university knew the COVID 19 pandemic would make such a large-scale gathering impossible, so the chapel team decided to find a creative solution.

With the student body being unable to come together in one place, the IWU chapel team decided to send the chapel out to them. They decided to livestream each chapel service to students all across campus, allowing them to worship corporately without even leaving their dorms. Andrea Summers, the campus pastor, states that the moniker “Streams of Hope” was chosen for these services to invoke imagery of the Holy Spirit flowing through these streams directly to their students and invigorating their spiritual lives.

In addition to these streams, IWU chapel services have also offered alternative ways for students to gain their chapel credit through small groups and Bible studies, and also through Faith Integration Groups which are spaces where students can learn more about a wide variety of specific issues from a Christian perspective. Additionally, the chapel team has also begun offering communion through a come-and-go service where students are encouraged to worship and pray before taking the elements in their own time.

The Streams of Hope initiative has not been without challenges. The technology needed to stream the services to the entire student body has sometimes proved fickle, and the pandemic has made it difficult to schedule different speakers for the services. In spite of these setbacks, the spirit of creativity behind these services has allowed some students to make great strides in their spiritual journeys. Summers has shared that the Faith Integration Groups and the come-and-go communions have become so popular they may become a permanent part of IWU’s spiritual life even after the pandemic ends.

While Summers acknowledges the best way for students to connect to God is through in-person services that involve the entire IWU community, she is hopeful that such services will eventually continue. However, she hopes that students will take advantage of the variety of worship service styles that are being offered in such ways that will allow them to take fuller ownership of their faith and will allow them to grow deeper in their relationship with Christ.

Written by Emily Bays

Learning and Leadership: Cherie Stoneking’s Story

In 2006, Cherie Stoneking saw a news broadcast that a Honda automotive plant was coming to Greensburg, Indiana – not far from where she lived in Milan. She instantly knew that she wanted to get a job there. Stoneking, who received her Master’s Degree in Business with a specialization in management from IWU in 2011, was eventually offered a job on the assembly line. After working hard for several years, Stoneking rose through the ranks to become a New Model Project Leader working in the stamping department. Her crowning achievement came with the successful launch of the new Honda Insight hybrid, which she was instrumental in developing.

Stoneking experienced a lot of challenges in her career. She also had to learn a lot of things on the job, particularly when she was promoted to project lead. This position requires a lot of engineering knowledge in addition to the managerial knowledge that Stoneking learned from her time spent earning her masters. Stoneking also had the advantage of the prior experience she had in her career; working on the assembly line helped to give her a greater knowledge of how the cars should be assembled, and allowed her to make engineering decisions that were more practical.

Being one of only a few women who work in a position of leadership in the automotive industry wasn’t always easy. Stoneking felt insecure about having a nontraditional college career, but she continued to work hard and persevere. Through the time she has spent building her career, Stoneking developed a higher amount of self-confidence, and learned that she was smarter and more capable than she ever believed. Now, she is considering going back to school to get her doctorate.

Today, Stoneking continues to balance her career with spending time with her husband and their three children, while continuing to lead her team through new and exciting projects. Looking back, Stoneking is proud of how far she’s come in such a short time. When she was working on the assembly line, she never could have foreseen that in just a few years, she would be a leader in the automotive industry, using the skills she’s learned to help the industry to make our cars safer, more reliable and fuel efficient.

By Emily Bays