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



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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





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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.







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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


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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

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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


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Clothe Yourselves with Love


Jana Coombs, of Coweta County Georgia, reported in her viral Facebook post that her heart was breaking for her 5-year-old boy who works so hard to adapt to a virtual learning format. She posted a picture of her son so frustrated that he put his head down on the table and started crying in his virtual Kindergarten. Coombs said she was just as frustrated with virtual learning as her son. She said that she took the picture because she wanted people to see the reality of what many parents and their children are facing.

What Mrs. Coombs describes is not an isolated instance.  There are children and parents all over the country feeling the same frustrations.  These frustrations are compounded by widespread social conflict, political posturing, and the global pandemic; multiple wounds that cannot heal with a simple Band-Aid.  To bring healing solutions we all need to act together with mindfulness, unity and peace. The approach to these solutions begins with a change of clothes.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians (Colossians 3: 12-14 NLT) he tells us what kinds of garments we need to put on as citizens of the Kingdom of God. Think of these as visible ways we are identified as Christ’s apprentices much like fans who wear the jerseys of their favorite teams. Because we have been chosen and set apart as one body to do the work of Christ, Paul writes that we “must clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…Above all, clothe [our]selves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Being mindful to put on these garments leads us to take certain actions that will begin to heal these cultural wounds.

By clothing ourselves in these garments we as parents, teachers, and Indiana Wesleyan University Alumni, can help children cope with the struggles of online learning within the context of these uncertain times.  The following are the types of actions we can take to make these unusual circumstances beneficial. Therefore, clothe yourself with:

Tenderhearted Mercy – This garment demonstrates a sympathetic understanding for the current situation of the child.  Children may not be able to describe their feelings accurately but they are definitely affected by the isolation and unusual procedures of online learning and the restrictions of social distancing and mask wearing. Acknowledging this feeling will go a long way to help the child feel heard.  Make a flexible study schedule with planned fun breaks to play a game, move around, read a good book, or have a nutritious snack.

Kindness – Increasingly our culture seems to lack this garment.  This is especially seen on social media sites.  Children need to feel they are safe and appreciated.  Remove any barriers to learning, give them the attention they need, but give them the space to work independently.  Create a learning place or “office” set aside exclusively for their home learning. Make a desk set together to keep all of their needed supplies. Give this space dignity but keep it from distractions and clutter.

Humility – This is not the time for hubris.  No one has all the knowledge and expertise to function under these circumstances.  If you are a parent, talk to the teacher and get help in supporting your child.  If you are a teacher, don’t try to transplant the exact model you do in your face-to-face classroom to an online delivery system.  They are not the same. There is significant research to be found on online learning.  Take the time to discover what is successful and then tweak it to make the method your own.

Gentleness – The strong are the ones who can authentically demonstrate gentleness. Use your strength to express sensitivity and not allow your frustration to spill over on to your child or student.  A genuine smile and an encouraging word can soothe a tense situation.  Your tone of voice, even more than the words you say, bring calm.  If tensions rise, take a break and do something different until calm returns.

Patience – Our natural response to stress is to react by fighting, fleeing, or freezing.  Children may add to this by acting out or zoning out. You may think they are defying you or are becoming argumentative, but this is their way of survival.  You may be surprised at their uncharacteristic behavior but be patient.  Use your creativity and wisdom to find a smoother path to completion.

Above all Love – Experiencing your steady support, even though there are setbacks and arguments, will sustain your children or students through the challenges of today and beyond. With the garment of sacrificial love, your patience, and respect, they will learn even in these scary times.  Because of your loving actions they will grow stronger and develop greater resilience and then, when future challenges come, they will have the grit to meet those challenges and succeed.

Written by Dr. John McCracken
Professor in the School of Teacher Education

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Homecoming 2020: Postponed





Due to the current situation caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic, Indiana Wesleyan University has made the decision to limit large gatherings on campus to ensure the health and safety of our current students, employees and our valued alumni.  With the decision, we are pushing Homecoming reunions and celebrations to 2021.  Once more details become available, we will inform you of the new dates and times to celebrate your years at Marion College/IWU.

Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to gathering again soon!

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IWU Statement on Race and Redemption


On behalf of the Indiana Wesleyan University community I must begin by acknowledging and lamenting the pain and suffering of the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd who have lost their loved ones through violent and unjust actions.  They are but the latest in a crowd of witnesses to the sorrow born from the fruits of injustice in our nation.

I also want to lift up and grieve over the pain, anger, and frustration felt by the African American and other minority students, faculty, and staff of our own IWU community.  They bear burdens of discrimination and injustice that most of us in the majority population can scarcely imagine, let alone have to bear.  It should not be so.  But it is so.  We must name this truth and grieve over the unhealed wound of racism that continues to plague our nation, and extend its influence into our own beloved community.

In the past I have spoken personally, and as President, about these matters.  Today I must speak about where Indiana Wesleyan University stands as a Christ-centered academic community committed to changing the world.  We cannot be silent.  We will not turn away.

First, we must acknowledge that the horrific acts of violence we are witnessing, and the more hidden but still present discriminatory realities persons of color face on a regular basis, are not accidents.  They are the products of the persistent racism that remains deeply rooted in the soul and systems of our great nation.  As Christian people, we cannot turn away from this reality.  The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  We have sinned and our nation has sinned.  Proverbs 10:19 says, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words.”  The only way we can break the hold of sin on our personal lives, and on the life of our nation, is to turn from evil, put our faith in the redeeming power of Jesus, and embrace the righteousness to which he calls us.

Second, IWU is shaped by the rich spiritual heritage of the Wesleyan movement which overtly rejects all forms of sinful favoritism, whether of race, class, or gender.  Sadly, IWU has not always lived up to that heritage.  We have gone through long stretches when we have allowed policies and practices that contradicted that heritage.  Even now, all too often, students and employees of color tell us that they feel invisible and unincluded.  Still, through our 100 years of existence, there have been those who witnessed to the best of our values and called us to the creation of a beloved community that reflects the spirit of Jesus Christ.  Our denominational leaders and our Board of Trustees expect us to be a community that rejects all forms of racism and favoritism.  For the record, let me state unequivocally, IWU is a community dedicated to racial inclusion and equity.  We have no tolerance at all for the sins of racism and favoritism.  We know that violence will not produce the justice, peace, and prosperity we long to see.  We must come together to reject racism, eschew violence, and work diligently for the better community to which God calls us.

Third, In the last ten years we have made great progress.  I thank my predecessor, President Henry Smith, for setting this agenda in motion, and all of those who have worked sacrificially over the past decade to move us forward.  While we are not where we were ten years ago, we are not where we must be next year. To that end, over the coming months I will be asking our administration, faculty, and staff to work on five projects.

  • Purse – Money will not defeat racism.  But we must be sure we are providing the resources necessary to support our pursuit of inclusive excellence.  I will be asking our administrative leaders for an accounting of all resources we are committing to this work.  Then we will decide the level of funding needed to advance the work today.
  • Presence – We are becoming a more diverse community.  While our highest administrative councils now have diverse representation, we must accelerate this diversification of leadership perspectives.  Therefore, I will require each senior administrative leader to ensure that their cabinets include substantive representation of racial and ethnic diversity.  As an example, I will be adding Dr. Michael Moffitt (Special Assistant to the President for Corporate and Community Relations) to the President’s Executive Council.
  • Policies/Practices – The policies and practices by which we operate must accord with our stated goals for inclusive excellence.  In the coming weeks I will ask for a thorough review to identify any policies and practices that either hinder or do not promote our goals for inclusive excellence, and to provide me with proposals for positive change.  In particular, I will ask our IWU Human Resources Department to propose further changes in our hiring practices to ensure that we are hiring from diverse candidate pools.
  • Public Influence – Colleges and universities such as IWU are some of the oldest and most influential organizations in the communities they serve.  As such, we have a responsibility to collaborate with our local officials, law enforcement, and service agencies to constructively address the issues of race that impede the social, spiritual, and economic progress of our communities.  To this end, I have invited the presidents of other Christian universities in northcentral Indiana to join in a community summit to better understand our needs and to advance the progress of justice and equity in our state.  This is an unfolding discussion that will remain a high priority for me in coming months.
  • Promotion – For the past seven years I have stood on the stage at our IWU graduation ceremonies and shaken the hands of thousands upon thousands of IWU graduates who are African American and other minority men and women.  Among our more than 90,000 IWU alumni are thousands of brilliant, influential, engaged persons of color who are a living testimony to the potential of our nation.  In coming months, I will be seeking creative proposals for how we might use our rich network of alumni to promote African American and other minority professionals, businesses, and persons.

Can we imagine an America in which we will one day look back on the death of George Floyd as a turning point, a distant memory of a time when our great nation turned decisively from the ravages of racism?  I believe this is our hope and our calling.  Indiana Wesleyan University commits itself to work toward that hope.  We are called to be an embassy of heaven.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” (John 3:16-17, MSG)

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