Loss mixed with the start of school year

Tue, 2012-07-24 08:54 -- univcomm

   Date: 9/4/2001

   Title: Loss mixed with the start of school year

Classes have begun at Anderson University, where expectations for the new year are mixed with sadness. Senior, Brian A. Bell, from Flint. Mich., died in an apartment fire on Thursday, Aug. 30 "For the people who are returning, it's going to be a shock," said Bethany Warner, the editor of the Andersonian, the school's student newspaper. "There's the sense this is a shared tragedy." In the midst of the loss, officials, teachers and advisers have been working with new students and parents to keep the start of school year on track.

Freshmen from 30 different states have arrived on campus, totaling approximately 550 new students. Faculty and staff met the newcomers last week and helped unload belongings, and usher students to their new "home away from home."

Once inside they helped the students settle in, and gave them immediate access to their communication lifeline: e-mail.

"Students want to get hooked up right away," said Cindy Smith, director of information technology services at the school. "They want to be able to check their e-mails the first night they are here."

It allows students to stay in touch with lifelong friends, while they get comfortable in their new surroundings.

Those new surroundings will soon include the $16 million Anderson University Wellness Center being built on campus. The Wellness Center, to open next fall, is the largest construction project in the school's 84-year history.

Incoming students indicate that it is the university's mission and atmosphere that draws them to Anderson.

"I visited seven other private Christian schools. I was looking for a place where I would belong. When I came here, I immediately knew this was the place," said Deanna Westerfield from LaPierre, Mich.

The university also boasts a School of Theology, which in addition to adult education, a growing MBA program, and a new doctoral program aimed at individuals wishing to teach business at Christian colleges, has helped boost enrollment, officials say.

One of the concerns this week remains helping students work through the loss of a friend.

"I think it's very likely there will be formal and informal, in-class and out-of-class discussions about Brian," said Kevin Radaker, the chairman of the English department and one of Bell's former teachers. "This forces everyone to evaluate his or her own life."

---Some of the information and quotes used in this story were written and gathered by Lisa Renze-Rhodes and Kim Walker, reporters with the Indianapolis Star.