MNU news

Campus News: Fall 2020

campus news fall 2020
Accent Fall 2020 Magazine
MNU Campus

Significant Enrollment Increase This Fall

MNU Fall 2020 Census Day numbers gave Pioneers reason to be thankful! The total number of students enrolled for the fall semester was 2,239, an increase of 17% from fall 2019. New freshmen were part of the equation, up 10% and the largest freshman class since 2017. Continuing education student enrollment was also up significantly. Achieving an increase in enrollment is counter to the national trend this year. 

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, first-time students declined by 16% nationwide and by 22.7% at community colleges. The study says public institutions have fared better than private. But that’s not the case at MNU. 

Drew Whipple is the associate vice president for traditional enrollment. His admissions team utilized virtual and limited in-person campus visits for freshmen and transfers during the recruiting season. 

“I’m grateful that the MNU community took on enrollment for the fall as a university-wide effort,” Whipple says. “The maintenance and growth of enrollment is a reflection of the quality of an MNU education and how invested our faculty, coaches, and staff are in connecting with students and welcoming them to MNU.”

Though many universities decided to go virtual this fall, MNU met the challenge of reopening during the pandemic with strict protocols to protect students and employees. Its Emergency Response Team continues to meet weekly to adjust protocol, schedules and provisions for the campus. 

“We are grateful for the opportunity to continue on-campus classes and events and we cannot take this for granted. I appreciate the cooperation, diligence and heroic actions of faculty, staff and students to get this done together,” says President David Spittal. “Pioneer Spirit takes many forms and we can accomplish much together, but at its best it is manifested by patience, unselfish acts, mutual support and respect for one another as good neighbors.”


Heritage Choir, under the direction of Dr. Christopher Smith, visited Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Overland Park, Kansas to experience the exquisite acoustics of the temple. The church sanctuary’s soaring ceiling and cupola provided the perfect venue for the choir to record several songs. 

Fr. Timothy Sawchuk, rector at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, gave the choir a fun lecture about the church and its history. The event was held on a WIRED Wednesday, and is a great example of ways that MNU uses its new schedule to enrich the student experience. WIRED or Wednesday Integrative Relational Experiential Days are for academic departments to provide experiences including internships, practica, job shadowing, research and field trips.

Thunder Sounds at Games

No longer just on the horizon, MNU Thunder Drumline now rumbles at athletic competitions for volleyball and football in this season—the drumline’s first at MNU. Coach Ben Gervais and seven drummers perform at home games. The drumline program is a partnership between performing arts and the athletic department, and interest has grown.

Gervais says drumline students are from different majors, and though all are musicians, not all were previously percussionists. Some play trumpet, bassoon or French horn, in addition to being in the drumline.

New drums and custom drumheads (the part that is struck with sticks or hands) make the drumline sparkle, adding to the atmosphere at games.

Gervais says MNU invested in equipment that the drumline program can grow into. He hopes to draw enrollment as more students participate in the extracurricular activity that is popular at many other institutions. His focus will continue to be educational. Gervais has an extensive background as a band teacher, with a specialty in drumline. The inspiration for his approach with MNU Thunder comes from collegiate drumline programs at Michigan State and Iowa State.

Michigan State has an infectious positive culture with exceptional alumni support. And ISU’s drumline program is education-driven. To that end, Gervais has students writing music for their performances and writes some himself.

“I want our students to leave with skills that could lead to becoming a drumline coach if they like, whether for a career or a sideline,” Gervais says.

Blogs, Social Media and More: Digital Communications Major Gets Off the Ground

Beginning the class session with a question, Prof. Aaron Bohn engages his digital communications seminar students by asking what food they would bring if stranded on a desert island. The answers range from pizza to mangoes and popcorn to Fuzzy's Tacos. The eleven students work on individual projects, but they come together each week to debrief and help each other take next steps on their projects.

Jessica is creating a YouTube channel. Lydia is producing a coffee blog like Coffee Geek, and Jackson is developing social media plans for a football team. This week, the assignment is a one-sentence statement identifying their purpose and audience of their digital communications. As the semester progresses, student projects will culminate in a final production.

The students use their real-world experience as digital natives of the Internet, while gaining instruction and expertise. 

Bohn is an expert in digital communications and his passion is to develop faith-based producers. He earned two master’s degrees at Asbury University—one in screenwriting and another in digital storytelling—and was a quarterfinalist at the Nashville Film Festival in the screenwriting category for Best Comedy Pilot.

Each week the students gather to show one another their progress and comment on and critique one another’s projects. Helpful advice comes from the peers. Then Bohn adds his expertise to show students how to make their projects more engaging. 

“Individual personalities are why bloggers and vloggers gain popularity,” Bohn advises the students. “Be sure to infuse your personality into what you are creating. That’s why viewers will come to your channel. Not just for information, they can get that anywhere. But what do you think about the subject or issue?”

Though the students' projects vary greatly, the skills they learn will transfer to virtually any field. Job seekers with digital communication skills are in high demand and every industry needs them. As Bohn works to build the curriculum and the program, students gain marketable skills that benefit them now and after graduation.

The City of Olathe grieved with the passing of Mike Copeland (’84)

The city’s longest serving, six-term mayor. Mike’s decision to come from California to Kansas to attend MidAmerica and play football not only impacted the trajectory of his life, but ultimately, the lives of generations of Olatheans.

In college Mike’s natural leadership skills led him to serve as president of Associated Student Government. His call to public service which began as a city councilmember in 1993, was inspired by the life and ministry of Dr. Paul Cunningham, then pastor at College Church of the Nazarene, where Mike was a member for 40 years.

“Mike Copeland was a mayor for everyone and a friend of all,” Spittal said. “His energetic leadership, vitality and deep faith inspired a community to be all it could and his praise and encouragement lifted the spirits of all who knew him. As an alum, he actively promoted and supported the university and its mission.”

During his tenure, Olathe was nationally recognized as one of America’s best places to live. It also earned Mike numerous awards and accolades, among them the Olathe Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, the MidAmerica Nazarene University Alumnus of the Year and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award from the Olathe Branch of the NAACP. 

Mike served on more than 15 local and regional boards. His Olathe Mayor’s Children’s Fund consistently raised more than any other Metro area mayor’s fund for children (to date more than $1.5 million). 

More than any other endeavor, Mike’s most cherished role was husband and father. He is survived by his wife Maria and children Olivia, Abigail and Joshua.


This Issue

Fall 2020

With gratitude we present this issue featuring God’s blessings in allowing MNU students, faculty, staff and administration to be on campus and in classes during the pandemic. Many institutions were not that fortunate. Read all about it and enjoy surprising news about increases in enrollment and other progress happening during this unprecedented time.

need help?
Office of News & Public Relations
Carol Best, Public Relations Manager
2030 E. College Way
Olathe, KS 66062-1899