The bitter January weather didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits as the campus came together Thursday to usher in a new era and officially celebrate Heidelberg College’s transition to Heidelberg University.
A series of events and ceremonies throughout the day marked the transition in both festive and reflective ways, and involved students, staff, faculty, administrators, alumni and the Tiffin community.
“This transition has been a long time coming, and we have much to celebrate,” said Thandabantu Maceo, vice president for Enrollment and Marketing, emceeing a morning coffee hour during which the college’s new logo and visual identity were unveiled. Maceo noted that the college has, in essence, come full circle -- again. Founded in 1850 as Heidelberg College, the institution changed its name to Heidelberg University in 1889 and then back to college in 1926.
As the campus community gathered in University Hall, they were greeted by colleagues dressed in period costumes. The six faculty and staff members represented significant figures in Heidelberg’s history, including past presidents and beloved deans. Lee Martin, executive director of development, wore a suit, tie and hat that had belonged to Dean Frederick Lemke. English professor Dr. Bill Reyer, taking on the persona of the Fisherman, Henry Leonard, the college’s first fiscal agent, kept true to form, collecting money for the institution, just as the Fisherman would have done. Dr. Kathy Venema, as Dean Mary Park, scolded many of the women for not wearing skirts!
Before Interim President Jim Troha and Student Senate President Keenan Jones unveiled the university’s new logo, Maceo thanked the individuals who had a role in bringing the university to this day: the Board of Trustees, former President F. Dominic Dottavio, the college community for their input on surveys and in focus groups, and Troha for his support and guidance through the process.
The new logo features a red circle with a silhouette of the University Hall Steeple, tucked between the words Heidelberg and University. The new design, created by Heidelberg graphic designer Jennifer Schrock, has begun to appear in various locations around campus, including building signs, business cards, letterhead and publications.
The morning program also featured the rededication of University Hall, formerly College Hall, and was completed by Campus Minister Paul Sittason Stark.
Faculty and staff members received a set of new business cards, name badges and small gifts to commemorate the day.
The campus community gathered once again at lunch for the annual Faculty/Staff Recognition Luncheon, during which employees celebrating anniversaries with the university were honored. Also honored were this year’s winners of the Jeannine Curns Distinguished Service Awards. This year, the awards went to Kathy Venema, director of Alumni Relations, for administrative staff and Peggy George, administrative assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, for support staff.
A historical theme was woven throughout the day’s events, but as Troha pointed out during an afternoon open house reception, the biggest issue of the day was to ponder Heidelberg’s future. In essence, therein lies the reason for the name change.
“The transition from college to university is just one element of our collective institutional vision, a vision that was developed within and among our community. … With that vision comes expected action, such as what we are experiencing today,” Troha said.
The name change, he reminded everyone, reflects the institution Heidelberg has become and that which we aspire to be, with expanded curricular offerings, a steady but planned growth in enrollment and improved facilities.
“The name change we are embracing today may better define our growing complexity as an institution,” Troha said. “It may be more advantageous to us as we ready further beyond our borders. It may be more appealing to this generation of students. And in some circles, it may be more prestigious.”
All that said, Troha emphasized that Heidelberg will not stray from its values, the important and meaningful characteristics that have defined the institution for 159 years. “These are an ethos of family; the importance of care and support of our students and dedicated staff, and a culture of academic rigor and excellence.
“While change is inevitable, such as our name, our commitment to who we are and what we hope to become remains as compelling and passionate as any moment in our long and distinguished history,” Troha said.
At the afternoon reception, the Tiffin community, including local educators, joined the Heidelberg community in the Great Hall for fellowship and friendship. In a proclamation from the city of Tiffin, Mayor Jim Boroff, a ’73, alumnus, declared Jan. 29, 2009 Heidelberg University Day. Those in attendance also enjoyed an informative historical display, compiled by archivists Bob and Dorothy Berg, chronicling the tenures of Heidelberg’s 13 presidents.
The Heidelberg Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. John Owen, provided entertainment, and a select group of alumni singers from the College-Community Chorus assisted Dr. Doug McConnell in the singing of “Sweet Alma Home,” the Heidelberg Alma Mater.
The evening concluded with an entertaining and interactive lecture by history professor Dr. David Hogan, titled "College to University Again: Changes and Continuities in Heidelberg's History."
The day would not have been complete without activities designed to engage students in the celebration. Assistant Director of Admission Jeff Garvin hosted “BERGO,” the Heidelberg version of Bingo, during the lunch hour in Hoernemann Refectory. Students won prizes of Heidelberg University shirts and hats, and enjoyed an appearance by the Student Prince mascot. Additionally, a prize patrol roamed campus all day, giving prizes to students wearing a Heidelberg University sticker.
A subcommittee of the Marketing Advisory Group planned the day’s events. Members of the committee included: Audrey Burkholder, Drew Felton, Angie Giles, Morgan Hawley, Cindy Hay, Ashley Helmstetter, Kristen Lindsay, Thanda Maceo, Keri Newell, Julie O’Reilly, Gail Roberts, Jennifer Schrock, Lindsay Sooy and Kathy Venema.