LIMA — The future is bright at Bluffton University for the 700-plus students who attend the private, Christian liberal arts school in northern Allen County.
And the surrounding communities will be the beneficiaries of the high-level instruction that is taking place at the university, according to its new president.
Dr. Jane Wood is just the 10th president in the 119-year history of what started as in 1899 as Central Mennonite College, became Bluffton College in 1913 and changed its name to Bluffton University in 2004. She was the guest speaker Monday at the Lima Rotary Club.
Appointed to her new position on July 1 of this year, Wood said there is much about which to be excited at Bluffton University. The school’s nutrition and dietetics program is just one of two such courses offered at private colleges in Ohio, Wood said, and a new four-year general education degree program with an emphasis on cross-cultural studies is being offered this year for the first time.
Wood said 99 percent of Bluffton students are employed or in graduate school or in long-term service within six months of graduation, and 96 percent of those grads say their Bluffton degree was important in obtaining their jobs.
The top five careers for recent Bluffton University graduates are K-12 education, community and faith-based agencies, healthcare, manufacturing and higher education, Wood said.
The new president said she is particularly excited about the future of the school in part because of the current crop of incoming freshmen. The class of 2022 includes five valedictorians and 13 National Merit Scholars and/or Student Council members. The average grade point average for incoming freshmen is 3.17, she said.
While a full-blown strategic planning process to map the future of Bluffton University will hit its full stride in Fall 2019, Wood said she will spend the majority of this year “listening and learning” from students and community members as the university assembles a “bridge to move forward.”
Wood said she is “very excited” about the planned construction in the heart of the Bluffton University campus of a facility to be known as the Knowlton Science Center. Ground is expected to be broken for the facility next year.
Enrollment at the university currently stands at 721 students. Although the school is affiliated with the Mennonite Church, the new president said the student population is comprised of students “of all religious affiliations.” She said tuition costs at the school are comparable with other private universities and that “all kinds of financial aid packages are available.”