'Berg creates first faculty endowed chair

Mar 27, 2013
David & Peg Baker (left) and Joan and Ralph Talmage
David & Peg Baker (left) and Joan and Ralph Talmage

A family of educators with strong ties to Heidelberg University has created an endowed faculty chair to honor their legacy as teachers and to support academic excellence and future teachers at the university.

The Swinehart Family Endowed Chair in Education at Heidelberg University is one of six endowed faculty chairs that will be created at Heidelberg in the coming years. It is the first to be fully funded and will be the first to be filled, beginning with the 2013-14 academic year.

Last summer, President Robert H. Huntington announced that six generous donors had come forward with their intent to create endowed faculty chairs in support of the university’s transformational $75 million Academic Comprehensive Campaign for Excellence. Three of those chairs will be made possible through planned estate gifts, while the other three will result from cash gifts that will come to fruition over the next 3-4 years, including the Swinehart endowed chair.

“The significance of this gift from Ralph and Joan (Swinehart) Talmage and David and Peg (Swinehart) Baker cannot and should not go understated,” Huntington said, adding that this is the first fully funded endowed faculty chair in Heidelberg’s history.

The family chose to designate Heidelberg’s School of Education as the beneficiary in recognition of the role Heidelberg has played in their families and careers and to support the preparation of future educators, said Peg Baker. “The training of future educators is something very valuable,” she said. “We would like to be part of the movement for excellence in education.”

Her sister, Joan Talmage, echoed those sentiments. “This is something we truly believe in,” Joan Talmage said. “It says we value education and this (funding) will be there for future teachers. We just think this is a very important issue.” She hopes that the establishment of the chair will encourage others to follow suit.

As a family of educators, the majority of whom are Heidelberg graduates, “We are proud of the education department at Heidelberg,” Peg Baker said. “We were served well by Heidelberg and we want to pass that on to future generations.”

The Swineharts’ legacy at Heidelberg and in the field of education is well-established. Peg Baker and Joan Talmage grew up in a family that greatly valued education. They married men from families that also made significant sacrifices to assure that all their children had the opportunity for a college education. Their father, Scott Swinehart, was the first in his generation to go to college. When he graduated in 1933, he became the first in a long line of family members who proudly called Heidelberg their alma mater. During a time when it could be challenging for women to attend college, Peg and Joan’s mother, Mary Jane Ewing Swinehart, received her college degree and teaching certificate, coincidentally on the same day in 1962 that her son, S. David, graduated from Heidelberg. Both Scott and David went on to seminary and successful careers in the ministry.

Peg Baker, a ’60 Heidelberg graduate, devoted her career to teaching English and directing school plays, and then she became a reference librarian. She married Dr. David Baker, ’58, whose founded the National Center for Water Quality Research and currently serves as director emeritus. Both of David Baker’s siblings and a niece are alumni; the Bakers’ three children are all educators and their seven grandchildren continue the tradition of quality education.

Joan Talmage graduated from Heidelberg in 1968, earned a master’s degree in education and enjoyed a successful career as a preschool and elementary teacher. Her husband, Ralph, graduated from The Ohio State University and has forged a successful business career in Columbus. He joined the Heidelberg Board of Trustees in 2006, and currently serves as treasurer. The Talmages’ two sons have followed an educational path as well.

Huntington announced that Heidelberg will launch this faculty chair beginning in the 2013-14 academic year. It will be a rotating chair with three-year appointments within the School of Education. The university is in the process of determining criteria for the awarding of the chair, the first of which will go to an existing faculty member, he said.

“Heidelberg is profoundly grateful to the Swinehart family for this generous gift that will allow us to continue our focus on academic excellence while providing much-needed support to our faculty.”

Heidelberg receives major gift for faculty development

Feb 26, 2013

James F. DickeBusinessman James F. Dicke II has been generous to Heidelberg University over the past decade, donating hundreds of pieces of artwork, an original sculpture and funds the university used to purchase the unique and historic Octagon House adjacent to the campus. Dicke’s latest gift, unlike his other contributions to the aesthetic beauty of the campus, will have a profound impact on people.

President Robert H. Huntington announced at the annual Faculty Awards Dinner Feb. 22 that Dicke has committed the largest single cash gift from a non-Heidelberg alumna/us or non-Heidelberg family in the history of the school -- $1.25 million that is being designated for professional development activities of faculty and academic staff.

The donation, Huntington explained, is being earmarked for Heidelberg’s $75 million Academic Comprehensive Campaign for Excellence (ACCE). The Dicke Faculty and Staff Professional Development Fund will be established to support and strengthen Heidelberg’s faculty and academic staff. Beginning immediately with his first $250,000 contribution, Dicke will create a permanent $1 million endowment over the next five years, and provide an additional $50,000 annually over five years to launch the impact now.

“Heidelberg is committed to enhancing the student and faculty experience,” Huntington said. “We are grateful that Mr. Dicke has joined us in our mission. Our faculty and their distinguished teaching and research are the lifeblood of the institution. This gift will benefit their work on behalf of our students for many years. Mr. Dicke’s significant generosity is at the center of our entire ACCE plan.”

An accomplished artist, photographer and executive, Dicke is a graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He became familiar with Heidelberg through lifelong friend and New Bremen, Ohio, native and Heidelberg Trustee Rev. Dr. Ralph Quellhorst, ’59. Dicke quickly recognized the virtues of the campus, its traditions, architecture, and most importantly, its mission, he said in a 2012 interview.

“It’s one of those wonderful college campuses that has both beauty and historical significance,” said Dicke, who is chairman and CEO of Crown Equipment Corp., a family-owned operation headquartered in New Bremen. The company is a global leader in lift truck manufacturing.

Dicke said he was drawn to Heidelberg’s family atmosphere and an opportunity “to do something that wouldn’t happen otherwise.”

“Colleges have an understandable challenge in spreading resources in a way that enhances students’ experiences when there are always so many other priorities,” he said. “The sorts of things that have been priorities for Heidelberg – enriching the experience for students and faculty – were not likely to happen unless a philanthropic gift made it possible.”

Huntington said Dicke’s gift directly addresses the overarching priority set forth in the ACCE campaign. “Providing faculty the resources they need and deserve to stay current in their fields, including well-earned sabbaticals, translates directly to the classroom experience they deliver to our students,” he said. “We are heartened that Mr. Dicke believes in our mission as fully as we do.”

ACCE, the largest fund-raising initiative in Heidelberg’s history, is the second phase of the university’s overall Strategic Action Plan. The first phase, completed last fall, involved the renovation and construction of five facilities on campus. With the Dicke gift, the university has received about $40.5 million in cash, pledges and estate designations toward the $75 million ACCE goal. The campaign will run through June 2016.

New beginnings: Congratulations, Class of 2012!

May 15, 2012

For more than 300 students who received Heidelberg University diplomas Saturday and Sunday, symbolism and tradition punctuated their graduation day. Each graduate received a white rose to signify the university’s respect, friendship, love and great hope for new beginnings.

In all, 65 graduate students in counseling, education, business administration and music education received master’s degrees on Saturday, the 25th graduate commencements at the university. On Sunday, 248 undergraduates joined the ranks of Heidelberg alumni in the 159th commencement ceremony in Heidelberg’s history. Students in the graduating class represented eight states and four foreign countries.

Throughout the weekend, the weather cooperated beautifully for the graduates and families who packed Seiberling Gymnasium for the commencement ceremonies as well as the Sunday morning Baccalaureate service, which featured a stirring sermon by ‘Berg alumna and Trustee the Rev. Beth Long-Higgins, ‘84.

Heidelberg was blessed this year to have a pair of individuals who have excelled as scholars, leaders and humanitarians as the keynote speakers for the commencement ceremonies.

Dr. Julian Earls, executive in residence at the Monte Ahuja College of Business Administration at Cleveland State University, told graduate students that “the road to success is always under construction.”

Earls, who peppered his remarks with entertaining anecdotes, encouraged the graduates to thank those who have helped them achieve success. “All of the professional success in the universe cannot compensate for the appreciation of those who helped you, he said. He was particularly humbled when he realized how much his wife, Zenobia, had sacrificed to help him earn his Ph.D. degree.

Graduates must have “a deep, abiding sense of humility about yourself with your new degree,” he said. “You must be responsive, interact with people, show support, cross disciplines.

“Use your lives so those who see you are so inspired that they want to be like you,” said Earls, a humanitarian who retired as director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Finally, he told the graduates to be persistent in their values.

Undergraduate students had the privilege of hearing the wisdom and experience of Dr. Carol Cartwright, president emeritus of Kent State University and former president of Bowling Green State University, one of the most highly respected voices in higher education today.

Cartwright turned the tables on the grads, posing several questions to them rather than dispensing the typical commencement advice. First, she asked if the students thanked those who supported them. Raised in a family of “can-do” people, Cartwright said that value led her on her path to success. “My pockets were filled in my childhood with coins of optimism and I’ve been spending them ever since,” she said, asking the graduates how they approach life – with the glass half full or half empty.

She also asked the graduates to contemplate these questions:

  • Do you understand the value of failure? “Mistakes are so important to progress.”
  • Do you have role models and mentors?
  • Are you willing to do your homework – because “nothing is a substitute for hard work.” “Your Heidelberg education is great preparation to seize leadership opportunities in your family, your job, your church, your neighborhood.”
  • Do you understanding the value of having fun?
  • Do you know how to live the value of “we”?
  • Who are you? “You cannot be a copy of someone else, so figure out how to be the best you that you can be.”

Cartwright left the graduates with two final questions: Do you have a dream? What questions are you posing for yourself and of yourself?

“Answering these questions,” she said, “enables you to live with purpose and integrity.”

Student speakers at both ceremonies – Jamie Fall, who received her master’s degree in counseling, and Cory Martinson, who received his bachelor’s degree in political science and legal studies – spoke of facing fear and being fearless as they addressed their classmates.

Fall said her fear of finding the time to balance family and work obligations turned when she let positive thoughts take over and allowed her drive for the work she does propel her forward. “Today, I can’t wait. I’m dying to see what I might do with this master’s degree from Heidelberg University. What are you dying to do?” she asked her classmates.

Before his words of wisdom, Martinson reflected on the important relationships made with faculty, staff and students while at Heidelberg. “Most of us grew to love this place because at Heidelberg, we are more than students. We are part of the Heidelberg family,” he said. “We stayed because of the people.”

In encouraging his classmates to be fearless, he advised them to “take risks, step outside of your comfort zones, strive fearlessly to achieve your dreams and stand up for what you believe in.”

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