Urbana College Reunion is April 21


URBANA — Colleges are changing dramatically as many students are opting to enroll in online classes and view the college experience as a way to earn credits required for a degree and not as a broadening experience in which they will meet persons with whom they will have special connections for the remainder of their lives.

And even many of those enrolled in traditional classroom settings view courses as something to maneuver and are in a hurry to leave the classroom as soon as the professor indicates a departure is acceptable. And they hurry on to their next class, to a job, or to their homes where the childcare provider is also in a hurry as he/she attempts to manage a complex life.

This is the reality and lamenting the past will not change it. Small colleges are closing rapidly as the changing demographics indicate that the days of enrichment for many in a college setting are no longer feasible in a world that is rushing, always rushing.

Let’s go back for a moment to reflect on the days some spent at Urbana College, founded in 1850 and no longer in existence. Dr. Vivian Blevins, a long-time educator, reflects on her time at the college. “ I began teaching there full time at age 26 and ended up as a full professor and Director of Teacher Education and was ready to become an academic dean at a community college and then a college president/chancellor for 15 years in colleges from as Joplin sang, “ the coal mines of Kentucky to the California sun.”. I have an honorary degree from Urbana which I view as a degree I earned in the trenches where I learned the definition of a quality education. Many of my students from Urbana College are on my Facebook account, and we are still sharing our lives after all this time. That speaks to the richness of my time at Urbana College.”

Gay Ellen Hawk began at Urbana as an intern from Kent State University in January of 1974 and by that fall began as a full-time public relations manager. She says, “ I met so many

wonderful people at Urbana, Ro Hazelbaker, Sandy Deal, and Vivian Blevins. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could be myself. There was intimacy and honesty at Urbana. It was what my experience at Kent State wasn’t. And I’ll be coming from Virginia on April 21 to reconnect with so many of those from that time period.”

Retired college professor S. Carol Deel reports, “At Urbana College I met a group of professors who believed in their students and in the power of a liberal arts education to change the way they saw themselves and the world, a belief that played out in a commitment to inclusion and equity.

“The faculty upended traditional curriculum, expanded required reading lists to include the work of women and people of color, encouraged us to self-direct our learning and insisted that we examine underlying assumptions and their real life consequences with a philosophy of learning that often took us out of the classroom to share and act upon ideas that affected our daily lives.”

Author and retired social services administrator Terry Pellman indicates, “I truly found myself at Urbana with the great instruction and the way in which the college fostered the expansion of young minds. Urbana was literally life-changing for me.”

With such attitudes, Urbana graduates Bill Purk and Lee Henrick decided recently that it was time to revitalize all those memories by having a reunion where attendees could express their sense of the ways in which the Urbana College experience changed their lives. They have set the date, Sunday, April 21 at 6 p.m. at the First United Church Methodist Church at 421 North Main Street, the oldest church in the village of Mechanicsburg, Ohio. A free concert is on the agenda and refreshments will be provided by the church. Bill says, “Refreshments might be punch and cookies or who knows what else?”

He and Henrick have experienced no lapse in friendships they formed with other musicians at Urbana College and five to eight of them meet monthly and on special occasions at venues between Urbana and Columbus to keep those memories alive.

On April 21 the two will present their music as will other musicians. Purk will perform solo from his new album entitled “Back Where I Come From” in which he explores memories from his childhood in Orange Township of Shelby County where he hunted and fished with his father and searched for arrowheads.

Lynn Fullerton, a 1974 Urbana graduate in business administration, has spent his career in Logan County in a variety of occupations from realtor to banker to inspector of weights and measures. He now enjoys directing his band Razzamatazz and Jazz, and his latest cd is

“Walking the Line” which features traditional jazz. He will do a Louis Armstrong impression of “What a Wonderful World” at the reunion.

Fullerton and Purk will perform together and present “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “Amazing Grace.”

Pellman will have a special display of the 20 plus books he has written and which he sells on Amazon.com.

Urbana alums, former students, faculty, staff , administrators and their friends are invited to attend. There will be a special memorial to honor those who have passed, and names should be submitted to Dr. Blevins at [email protected] or Susan Armour-Tesno at [email protected].

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