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September 27, 2020

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University trustees focus on strategic plan, act on return-to-campus plans

Four faculty members receive promotions

Bluffton University trustees spent the majority of their June board time on campus discussing the implementation of the university’s newly developed strategic plan, taking action on return to campus plans and reviewing increased diversity and inclusion efforts ahead of the fall 2020 semester.

The board also took several actions including promoting faculty members, approving a newly endowed scholarship and welcoming a new member. 

Four faculty members were promoted during the meeting.
•  Dr. Deanna Barthlow-Potkanowicz was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor of psychology.
Three faculty members were promoted to professor status:
•  Dr. Crystal Sellers Battle, professor of music;
•  Dr. Zachary Walton, professor of communication; and
•  Dr. Walt Paquin, professor of social work. Sellers Battle is the first female African American faculty member at Bluffton to be promoted to professor status.
• Dr. Roy Couch, who was promoted to associate professor of music last year, was granted tenure.

Bruce E. Murphy Scholarship
Trustees also voted to establish the Bruce E. Murphy Scholarship. Established by 1970 graduate Bruce Murphy and his wife Sandra, the scholarship will support students from underrepresented groups.

After graduating with a degree in sociology, Bruce moved to Detroit and established a successful business. Twenty-eight years later, Bruce used proceeds from the sale of the business to establish a charitable trust to benefit Bluffton, including this endowed scholarship. 

Steve Speicher ’96 began a four-year term as an at-large member during the June meeting. Speicher, a business administration major, is a regional vice president for Auto-Owners Insurance where he is responsible for the state of Ohio.

He has been with the company for 22 years, and serves on an advisory council which developed insurance-related courses for Bluffton’s business department. Steve and his wife Susan (Schmersal ’97) live in Bluffton with their six children.