DANCIN’ IN BRANSON: Lancers Secure Eighth Trip to NAIA Nationals

March 5th, 2015

Grace has punched its ticket to the 2015 NAIA Div. II National Championships in Branson, Mo.

The Lancers were the second-to-last bubble team to receive an invite to the tournament, earning the seventh of eight at-large bids to the 32-team field.

Grace, who was ranked No. 24 in Wednesday’s NAIA poll, will find out its first-round opponent tonight at 9 p.m. in the live selection show at www.NAIAnetwork.com.

TOURNAMENT WEBSITE

Grace enters the tournament with a record of 21-10 although the Lancers have dropped three straight. Grace’s last appearance at NAIA Nationals resulted in a run to the national semifinals in 2013. This year’s tournament will make six trips in eight years to NAIA Nationals under head coach Jim Kessler.

“This trip is a gift based on the body of work for our season. To win 11 games in this league is hard, and making NAIA’s is a tribute to how this team dug and clawed all season,” Kessler said. “Sometimes you go to this tournament with too high expectations and play tight. This year we will be going with great appreciation and without pressure as the underdog, similar to how we did two years ago when we made it to the semifinals.”

The Crossroads League will be well-represented at the tournament with four teams in the field – Grace, Indiana Wesleyan, St. Francis and Bethel. Only two other conferences in the nation had four qualifiers.

Grace College to Host Dr. Brad Gundlach at Lyceum Lecture

March 3rd, 2015

Pictured: Dr. Brad Gundlach

As a part of the Lyceum Series on Faith and the Academy, Grace College will be hosting Dr. Brad Gundlach on Thursday evening, March 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Westminster East Room. He will be giving a talk entitled, ” Religion and the Evolution Question: A Historian’s Perspective” about his recently published book, Process and Providence: The Evolution Question. The event is open to the public and refreshments will be provided.

Dr. Gundlach specializes in American intellectual, cultural, and religious history and also enjoys teaching broadly in world civilization, church history, and the philosophy and methods of history. He started teaching at Trinity International University after teaching at Wheaton College and Wheaton Graduate School. He is the author of Process and Providence: The Evolution Question at Princeton, 1845-1929, and is currently at work on a biography of Princeton theologian B. B. Warfield. He currently serves as the Director of the Division of Humanities and as Book Review Editor for Fides et Historia, the journal of the Conference on Faith and History.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Gundlach deliver our Lyceum Lecture this year,” said Dr. Jared Burkholder, chair of the history and political science department and director of Faith, Learning & Scholarship at Grace College. “Christians so often see the creation-evolution issue as a matter only of biblical interpretation. Yet, every area of debate has a history, and when we examine issues like this from a historical perspective, it helps us frame our discussions about the Bible within a cultural context and allows us to see things from a broader vantage point. Brad is a sensitive and faithful Christian who understands this history and is well-suited to unpack for us the history of Christian perspectives on the ‘evolution question.’”

The Lyceum Series on Faith and the Academy is a lecture series that draws inspiration from both the history of Grace College and Winona Lake. During America’s Progressive Era at the turn of the twentieth century, Winona Lake’s Chatauqua tradition attracted lectures and presentations from high- profile speakers who brought high culture to small-town America. Past notable figures include three-time democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, humorist Will Rogers, and famous preacher Russell Conwell.

Under the Office of Faith, Learning & Scholarship, the Lyceum Series on Faith and the Academy reflects Winona Lake’s tradition of cultural engagement and Grace College’s commitment to vibrant conversation on issues related to the intersection of Christian faith and academics.

Mountaineer Eric Alexander to Speak at Grace College’s Transition Exploration Day

March 3rd, 2015

Pictured: Eric Alexander - author, skier, climber, and mountaineer

This year’s Transition Exploration Day hosted by the Grace College Student Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children welcomes  keynote speaker Eric Alexander; skier, climber, and mountaineer. The event, held at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 13, is an opportunity for high school students with disabilities to explore post-secondary options that are available in the community.

Mr. Alexander will deliver a keynote address multimedia presentation in which he shares his story of leading people with disabilities to the top of the highest point on six of seven continents, including his blind friend Erik Weihenmayer to the summit of Everest. Eric tells of surviving a 150’ fall in the Himalayas while training for Everest, the inspiration he gained from his team and his faith, and how he fought against his doubts and fears to be an integral part of this historic ascent.

Following the keynote address, students will have the opportunity to visit a Transition Exhibition where area agencies, educational institutions, and businesses will have display booths showcasing opportunities and resources available as the students plan for post-graduation.

Alexander is author of The Summit: Faith Beyond Everest’s Death Zone, as well appearing in the award- winning documentary, “Farther Than the Eye Can See.” He has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Discovery Channel, TIME, Outside, Climbing, and many more. Learn more at www.highersummits.com.

“Transition Exploration Day is such a great opportunity for our Council for Exceptional Children Student Chapter to play out their mission of showing God’s love to the community and student body,” said Dr. Cheryl Bremer, chair of the special education department at Grace College. “Eric Alexander has an amazing story and we are excited to see how it will touch the lives of students with disabilities win the community.”

Grace Seminary Professor Publishes Commentary on Philippians

March 3rd, 2015

Pictured: Dr. Matthew S. Harmon, professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College & Theological Seminary

Dr. Matthew S. Harmon, professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College & Theological Seminary, recently published two books, Studies in the Pauline Epistles: Essays in Honor of Douglas J. Moo and Philippians: A Mentor Commentary.

Studies in the Pauline Epistles: Essays in Honor of Douglas J. Moo, published this past November by Zondervan, is a festschrift — a German word that loosely means celebratory writing. In academic circles it is a volume put together to honor prominent scholars for their contributions to their particular field of study.

“I studied under Dr. Moo at Wheaton and received my Ph.D. under his supervision,” said Harmon, who coedited the project with Dr. Jay E. Smith. “I organized this project as an attempt to honor Dr. Moo for the outstanding scholarship in his ministry career as well as to try and give a snapshot of current trends in the study of Paul’s letters.”

The second publication, Philippians: A Mentor Commentary (Ross-Shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2015), is the realization of a longtime dream for Dr. Harmon, who started work on the commentary in 2008.

“Being able to spend several years immersed in Philippians was a fantastic experience — to see my own love for Christ deepen, to see my joy in the Gospel enriched, and my own heart expand to see the Gospel advance through partnerships in ministry was a remarkable experience,” Harmon notes.

Philippians: A Mentor Commentary will be a required text next session for New Testament Bible Exposition, an undergraduate class at Grace College.

“My hope is that the Philippians commentary becomes a resource for pastors, students, Bible study leaders, and for missionaries — to help them understand what Philippians means, how it applies to their individual lives, and how they can apply it to the life and ministry of the church.

“The administration at Grace has been very supportive during this time,” said Harmon. “I was granted a one semester sabbatical in the spring of 2013, which played a significant role in me being able to finish the first draft of this commentary. The sabbatical, along with a reduced course load enabled me to be able to write and research.”

Both recent publications are available for purchase on Amazon and Christianbook.com. Copies are also available at Tree of Life Bookstore on the Grace College campus.

Harmon is also the author of She Must and Shall Go Free: Paul’s Isaianic Gospel in Galatians (Berlin: deGruyter, 2010). Currently, he is at work on commentaries on 2 Peter, Jude, and Galatians. Dr. Harmon blogs at www.matthewsharmon.com and can be found on Twitter @docharmon.

To see an interview with Dr. Harman on the Studies in the Pauline Epistles click here.

To see the surprise presentation to Doug Moo at the recent annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (marking the 50th anniversary of the NIV translation) click here.

Kauffman Named CoSIDA Academic All-America®

February 27th, 2015

Photo of Allison Kauffman and logo attached.

Allison Kauffman was named to the prestigious Capital One Academic All-America® Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Kauffman was one of just five members on the First Team College Division and the only representative of the Crossroads League on either the First or Second Team. The senior forward boasts a perfect 4.0 GPA while studying exercise science.

She leads Grace’s team in both points and rebounds, averaging 17.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Her 13 double-doubles in the regular season were tied for the most in the Crossroads League.

CoSIDA awards student-athletes who have maintained a GPA of at least 3.3. Members of CoSIDA then vote on eligible student-athletes through the district and national levels based on a combination of academic and athletic accomplishments.

Kauffman ranks No. 2 in program history for both career points (1,716) and career rebounds (912). She helped lead the Lady Lancers to a tie for fifth place in the competitive Crossroads League. Grace will play in the 2015 NCCAA National Basketball Championships as the host school from March 18-21. The Lady Lancers can also qualify via the Midwest Regional Tournament, taking on Cincinnati Christian on March 13.

Nathan Brown Earns NCCAA Athlete of Week Honor

February 26th, 2015

Grace’s track and field team had its fourth member honored as the NCCAA National Athlete of the Week in Nathan Brown.

Brown finished first in the heptathlon at the 2015 NCCAA Indoor Nationals with a school-record 4,580 points. He became Grace’s first men’s track member to win an individual national championship since 2006 and has a strong chance at earning a spot at NAIA Indoor Nationals as a result of his performance.

Grace has now racked up four NCCAA National Athlete of the Week honors in the past five weeks. He joins Mya Brown, Jo Boren and Donovan Graham as national honorees.

The NAIA Indoor National Championships, held in Geneva, Ohio, begin on March 5.

Wild Second-Half Comeback Falls Short in CL Tourney

February 26th, 2015

Pictured is Brandon Vanderhegghen rising in the second half against Mt. Vernon Nazarene taken by Brook Vosler.

An unforgettable quarterfinal contest in the Crossroads League Tournament ended in defeat for the Lancers on Wednesday night.

Grace (21-10) trailed by as many as 20 points to Mt. Vernon Nazarene in the second half and were even behind by 15 with two minutes to play. And while the Lancers showed resolve down the stretch with valiant comebacks, Grace ultimately fell 92-86.

The Lancers will await the announcement of the NAIA National Championship qualifiers on March 4 to find out their postseason fate. Grace, currently ranked No. 21 in the NAIA Top 25, can still qualify as an at-large. Otherwise Grace will shift its attention to the NCCAA National Championships, held at Grace from March 18-21.

The Cougars (19-12) started the game with the hot hand. Mt. Vernon scored 28 points over the first 10 minutes of the half thanks to sharp shooting. The Cougars, who made 69 percent of their field goals in the first period, opened up a 26-14 lead after eight minutes.

Grace battled back to within five at 28-23 midway through the half, but Mt. Vernon ended the half on a strong note. The Cougars entered halftime on a 19-8 run, claiming a 47-31 advantage at halftime. Grace’s did not make a field goal for the final4:45 of the half.

Logan Irwin’s eight points and five assists and Niko Read’s seven points were a bright spot offensively for the Lancers.

Whatever was said by Grace head coach Jim Kessler in the halftime locker room worked as Grace came out with a purpose in the second half. The Lancers ripped off 17 unanswered points over a 4:00 span to start the second half, chopping the Cougars’ 20-point lead down to 53-50. Brandon Vanderhegghen had nine points during Grace’s charge.

A pair of timeouts by the Cougars in the early minutes of the half did not slow down the Lancers in front of a charged Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center crowd. Grace came within one point after a pair of free throws from Vanderhegghen with 12:06 on the clock, but Grace’s rally ran dry.

The Cougars went on a 17-3 run of their own after Vanderhegghen’s free throws to regain a 15-point edge with less than seven minutes on the clock. Mt. Vernon still led by 15 at 80-65 with 2:02 remaining before yet another near-miraculous comeback from the Lancers.

Stephen Halstead singlehandedly gave Grace hope, ripping off three 3-pointers in a 20-second span to cut Grace’s deficit down to seven. The Cougars were sent to the free throw line down the stretch while Grace traded points with 3-pointers on their end. Vanderhegghen buried two more treys in the final minute, the last of which made the contest a one-possession game at 85-82 with 31 seconds left. But the Cougars made enough free throws to hold on for the six-point win. For the game, Mt. Vernon hit 26-of-32 (81 percent) from the foul line.

Vanderhegghen finished with a team-best 24 points, including 19 in the second half. He also grabbed a game-high six boards and had two steals. Read tallied 17 points with a trio of 3-pointers, and Irwin added 16 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.

Dennis Williams scored 11 points with two blocked shots before fouling out, Halstead tallied nine off the bench, and Chad Hoffer chipped in five.

Measure of Grace: A Different Approach to Tuition and Persistence

February 25th, 2015

With their new “Measure of Grace” initiative, Grace College is working to keep their undergraduate degrees affordable and incentivize student persistence and completion. A few years ago, the college began offering the option to complete all of their bachelor’s degrees as three-year degrees. Now, with “Measure of Grace,” the college is:

  • Reducing the Fall 2015 tuition rate by 9% (compared to Fall 2014)
  • Committing that, starting in Fall 2015, students who remain continuously enrolled will never see their tuition increase above the tuition rate of their first term
  • Offering continuously enrolled students further reductions in tuition (a reduction $500 in the sophomore year, an additional $500 in the junior year, and $500 more in the senior year)
  • Providing free textbook rental (excluding consumable workbooks), with textbooks delivered to the students’ dorm rooms (at an estimated cost of $1200/year in textbooks, this would save each student an estimated $4,800 over the course of a four-year degree)

“We could have just reduced tuition to increase our competitiveness and increase enrollment,” Cindy Sisson, Grace College’s vice president of enrollment, notes, “but we also wanted to reward students for persisting. In fact, the students who came in last fall will get the $500 reduction this coming fall, and the free textbook rentals.”

Grace College already has a tradition of high persistence, with 81% freshman-to-sophomore retention in 2014, reflecting recent gains from their three-year degree initiative.

A Closer Look at Grace College’s Tuition Model

We asked Cindy Sisson about the economics of the new tuition model. She suggests that while there is definitely a cost involved in these tuition reductions, Grace College hopes this will be offset by:

  • Gains in net tuition revenue due to increased retention rate
  • Increased new student enrollment, as both the three-year degree initiative and the “Measure of Grace” initiative place the institution in a more competitive position in its marketplace

At Academic Impressions, what strikes us about Grace College’s model is that (a) it allows the institution to better serve its mission in keeping a faith-based, private education affordable for students, (b) it is a risk, a calculated and creative risk—and intelligent risk-taking is increasingly going to becoming vital to those institutions that will thrive in the twenty-first century; and (c) Grace College appears to have developed their new tuition model with some rigorous and disciplined financial planning and predictive modeling.

Grace College has been researching possibilities for their new tuition model since 2009, and the budget modeling needed was elaborate. They approached the initiative with the readiness to take a risk, but devoted the time needed to do it right. “I had to look at models that compared our best estimate of the final cost to students in a given year to our best estimate of the final cost to students at competing institutions in that future year,” Sisson recalls. “We hadn’t really had to do that before.”

Will it Work?

Rather than adjust the discount rate, Grace College has opted to keep their published financial aid unchanged, and they have not made any resource trade-offs in terms of personnel; they are counting on the new model leading to increased yield and increased retention. The idea is that a strong financial aid package and locked-in tuition with annual rebates will make Grace College even more attractive to prospective students.

It’s not just a shot in the dark; Grace College has been seeing a rise in application, yield, and persistence numbers since implementing their three-year degree option. Now they are hopeful that “Measure of Grace” will accelerate those increases.

Looking ahead to Fall 2015, Sisson notes that the applications are up 16%, the acceptance pool is up 12%, and the deposits are up almost 25%. Anecdotally, Sisson is hearing an extremely positive feedback from prospective students and an unprecedented number of calls from parents wanting to hear more.

Strengthening the Enrollment Management and Finance Partnership

The other thing that is a little rare about Grace College’s approach to planning their new tuition initiative is the extent of partnership required between enrollment management and the CFO. At Academic Impressions, when we ran our 2013 survey of chief enrollment officers – with over 200 responding to the survey from a diversity of institutions – we found that CFOs and enrollment managers who work closely together to calculate net tuition revenue remain a rarity. You can read the findings from that survey in our free report From Enrollment to Net Tuition Revenue: Where CEMs and CFOs Need to Focus.

Reflecting on the past several years of research and planning, Sisson notes, “The close work this modeling required, the collaboration between me and our vice president of finance, looking closely at enrollment and financial aid projections, absolutely strengthened our relationship.”

Looking Ahead

Grace College’s blend of the art of risk-taking with the science of careful budgeting is appealing. They are a college that we recommend watching closely, and we’re intrigued to see whether their model proves successful.

What conversations need to be happening at your institution? Are you looking at alternative tuition models? Are you looking to manage your discount rate?

To see the original articular visit Academic Impressions.

2015 Presidential Scholarship Competition Winners

February 25th, 2015

2015 Presidential Scholarship Competition Winners

<<view photos from PSC 2015 here>>

During the weekend of Feb. 13-14, Grace College hosted 155 high school students for its Presidential Scholarship Competition. The competition, held annually, brings finalists to campus to compete for scholarships ranging from $1,000 – full tuition per year.

This year’s winners included:

President’s Scholarship:

  • Alexandra Gandy, Indianapolis, IN

Trustee Scholarship:

  • Asia Weimer, Hudson, IA
  • Erika Combs, Fort Wayne, IN

Faculty Scholarship:

  • Kirsten Mead, Powell, OH
  • Benjamin Fultz, Hagerstown, MD
  • Logan Swartzentruber, Dalton, OH
  • Emily Zilz, Columbia City, IN
  • Hannah England, Metamora, MI

Achievement Scholarship:

  • Jennifer Gonzalez, Macedonia, OH
  • Virginia Willis, Ashland, OH
  • Sydney Burdge, Columbia City, IN
  • Paige Price, Warsaw, IN
  • Jocelyn Quirple, Hagerstown, MD
  • Lauren Rekeweg, Auburn, IN
  • Charlotte Byers, Ostrander, OH
  • Megan Hansen, Lees Summit, MO
  • Julia Kaster, Clinto, WI
  • Alec Carey, Uniontown, OH

McClain Scholarship:

  • Abigail Boswell, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Sarah Manko, Blacklick, OH
  • Susan Negowski, Bath, OH
  • Maryl Gerst, Warsaw, IN
  • Lydia Yurkovich, Painesville, OH
  • Anna Hertzler, Mears, MI
  • Benjamin Tucker, Mansfield, OH
  • Austin Risner, Piqua, OH
  • Josiah Barkdoll, Lawrenceburg, IN
  • Blaze Bowers, Toronto, OH
  • Kelsey Saunders, Grand Haven, MI
  • Andrea Howell, Frankfurt, IN
  • Tyler Stout, Mishawaka, IN
  • Carrie Buhmann, Hobart, IN
  • Kristy Parks, Lawton, MI
  • Noah Osborne, Westfield, IN
  • Grace Smith, Fortville, IN
  • Kaleb Kramer, Ostrander, OH
  • Bejamin DeJong, Hudsonville, MI
  • Lily Van Loh, Lansing, MI

 

Kessler Named Co-Coach of Year by Crossroads League

February 23rd, 2015

Coach Jim Kessler

Grace’s men’s basketball coach Jim Kessler was named the 2015 Crossroads League Co-Coach of the Year to highlight the Lancers’ award haul.

Logan Irwin, Brandon Vanderhegghen and Dennis Williams also earned honors from the CL for impressive regular seasons.

Kessler shared the league’s Coach of the Year honor with IWU’s Greg Tonagel. Kessler has led the Lancers to a No. 4 seed in the always-competitive league and into the NAIA Top-25 Coaches’ Poll for much of the season.

Irwin was a Second Team All-League selection as Grace’s leading scorer. The junior point guard had a team-best 13.4 points and 4.5 assists per game. He also led all players in the league with a plus-4.5 assist/turnover ratio in league contests, handing out 77 assists with just 17 turnovers in 18 CL games.

Vanderhegghen was Third Team All-League and also earned a spot on the league’s five-player All-Defensive Team for Grace. He produced 10.1 points/game and hit 33 percent on 3-pointers for the season. He also had a team-high 1.6 steals/game average.

Williams was honorable mention for All-League status. The senior center hit 60 percent of his shots from the floor, averaging 10.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game for the season.

Grace will host fifth-seeded Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Wednesday 7 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the CL Tournament. The semifinals are Saturday afternoon with the championship to be played on March 3. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic bid to NAIA Nationals.