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FEATURES

Keep up with all the stories and opinions of students. Opinions published are not necessarily those of MVNU, the Church of the Nazarene or Viewer advertisers. The Viewer does not necessarily uphold or advocate opinions published.

Welcoming the New President 
By Sam Henthorn
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Mount Vernon Nazarene University has its traditions that it holds; however, one of the most notable recent ones is the mark of a new era for MVNU with the inauguration of a new president. On April 3, the welcoming of Dr. Carson Castleman was celebrated with his inauguration into the role of MVNU President. In the chapel, students and faculty alike joined together to give this warm welcome to Castleman. His wife, Dr. Angela Castleman, was present, as well as David Mills, the vice president of spiritual life.

Faculty and staff came from all over campus and beyond to celebrate this special moment. Laurie Cellar, senior human resource specialist at MVNU said that apart from the music and ceremony, she enjoyed hearing encouraging statements about the new president, “Those who spoke offered confirmation of his character and enthusiasm for the vision he has for MVNU in the days ahead,” she said.

It was all a part of honoring Castleman, who stated, “As I designed the inauguration and had a phenomenal team that came to my side to help me, my number one goal was to make sure that Christ was edified and at the epicenter of it. I feel that happened. It was a holy time, in my opinion,” when he was interviewed by the campus radio station, WNZR. Castleman made one of the historic moments of MVNU a sight to behold. 

With this new job comes responsibility for Castleman, who has a goal in mind for MVNU moving forward. Castleman stated, “Mount Vernon is a great place for people to come and be a part of a community of faith that is committed to changing the world through the love of Christ,” adding this was his statement for his upcoming time as president. He wants to make the people who come, go, and are at MVNU to reflect God's love on the world. That is his vision of how he is going to run this campus. 

Sarah Scott, associate director of admission events, said that she was overjoyed by the inauguration. “The [inauguration] ceremony was beautiful, wonderful, spirit filled, and it really just gave me a good sense that we were in good hands,” said Scott. “Dr. Castleman is very excited to be here and to lead Mount Vernon.” Scott echoes this excitement to have Dr. Castleman back on campus with the rest of the community.

The inauguration was only the beginning of what Castleman wants to bring to the table. “I could sense the presence of Christ in that room,” Castleman stated, feeling that this was God’s plan for him.

Missions Work in Belize 
by Kai Mays 

While most students went home over spring break, a group of eight students spent their break in Central America giving back to the community. On the 10-day trip to Belize, students volunteered at a Nazarene primary school, a Nazarene church, a high school, held Vacation Bible School for the primary school, and hosted a worship service while inside the church. 

On the week and a half trip, students provided manual labor for the schools along with a mural painting for the children’s room in the church. Josiah Munro, a junior RA in Oakwood, happened to make one of the eight on the Belize trip. When asked about the work they did, he said, “The work wasn’t too much; it was kind of enjoyable for us. However, what was amazing was that we were able to give the community a break from their responsibilities and work while sharing the mission of God at the same time.” 

Outside of helping with renovating, the mission’s team was also there to spread the news of God. When the team shared their testimonies, Munro said that he was able to see God moving in them. “Our testimonies gave them hope for their future and to trust God’s path. They were impacted in understanding that there is more to life than what we, as humans, understand,” he said, “there is a God whose plan is better than anything they can think of or imagine.” Not only were they able to help with serving the community, but they also touched the lives of others by spreading God’s word, and that is the greatest mission of all. 

Although these eight people were sent to impact the community, the community also impacted the lives of the students. While working and serving in Vacation Bible School and church, Munro said, “This trip allowed me to understand that God is very powerful and limitless to the point where he can and currently uses people from all over the world with different backstories to accomplish the same mission.” 

If you feel called to serve God and go on a missions trip with the school or want to find out more information, contact Rev. David Mills at davmills3@mvnu.edu.

The Education Department Celebrates Retiring Professors
By Allison Prouty and Morgan Mills

Two long-serving education department professors at MVNU recently announced their retirement at the conclusion of this academic year.

Dr. Stephen Metcalfe has been at MVNU since 2006. When Dr. Metcalfe first visited MVNU for a job interview to be a professor, he said, “It really feels like [working at MVNU] is kind of a calling.” After being hired, he was one of six full-time graduate program professors hired to teach courses for MVNU’s Graduate and Professional Studies cohorts, as MVNU was one of the only universities in Central Ohio that offered education degrees with licensure.

When Ohio State University began offering the degrees with licensure, Dr. Metcalfe moved to teach undergrad education classes at MVNU. As a professor, he said he “targets what still is somewhat like grad material for people who are two or three semesters out of high school and try to help them integrate that into becoming practitioners in three or four semesters, hoping that I’m planting seeds.”

Dr. Metcalfe will be retiring at the end of this semester. He said that he plans on taking care of his own health while taking care of his family. Looking back on his time at MVNU, he said, “It's just been that kind of a sense of calling to a missional kind of experience with this particular population.” He said his family doesn’t plan on moving anywhere after he retires and said he will come back to visit with Duncan, Murphy, and Autumn, Dr. Metcalfe’s golden retrievers. “My department has demanded visitation rights,” he said.

Dr. Lynn Shoemaker, assistant professor of education, is also now in a transitioning season as she retires from the Jetter School of Professional Studies here at MVNU. 

What first drew Shoemaker to MVNU after her 11 years in public school administration was the quality of work that MVNU students would produce. Shoemaker supervised budding teachers from other schools and consistently noticed exemplary vocational skills from MVNU students.

Shoemaker has worked tirelessly in her 13 years at MVNU to mold students into excellent teachers and individuals and has succeeded greatly. She is beloved in the education department and has shown superb knowledge and skills in nurturing lifelong learners. 

When asked about her achievements, she praises her students and for the role that she gets to play in their lives. “I think it makes it easier to retire when you see the joy in their faces,” Shoemaker said. She gushed over the satisfaction that setting up her students for success brings her. It is a bittersweet goodbye for a professor who cares deeply about her community and pupils. She’s moved by the mark students have made on her as well as the faculty she works with. 

While Shoemaker continues her goal of publishing her book, she also plans to start her season of stillness. “I feel that something has been laid on my heart to be still,” she said. Shoemaker shares plans of taking dips in her pool, working on her novel and continuing to take her rich personal life one day at a time. 

Shoemaker urges readers to find moments to be still as she takes time to rest and reflect on her fruitful journey through her career and life. The Lakeholm Viewer salutes these professors. For more stories about retiring faculty members, go to lakeholmviewer.com.

Dr. Tocheff closes out full-time career at MVNU
By Zach Baur

Doctor Robert Tocheff, often known by the nickname “Doctor Bob,” has had a prolific career teaching music at Mount Vernon Nazarene University since 1981. After 43 years, Tocheff has recently announced that he will be retiring from full-time work. “There are many reasons that have led to my retirement, but I am grateful that I have been given the privilege of continuing to direct Collegians and Handel’s Messiah for the foreseeable future,” said Tocheff. 

Tocheff has always had a passion for music. When asked about his motivation for pursuing a teaching career, he stated, “I’ve always enjoyed the classroom but especially the rehearsal classroom atmosphere, where incredible music making happens.” After graduating high school, Totcheff, “was faced with the choice of pursuing an engineering degree in my father’s footsteps, or to follow my heart and pursue music. When I entered MVNC, it was a natural fit to choose the music education track.” Back then, what is now MVNU, it was a two-year institution named Mount Vernon Nazarene College. He finished his bachelor’s degree in music education at Olivet Nazarene University. He would later go on to gain a master’s degree at Wright State and finally a PhD at The Ohio State University, all with a choral emphasis. 

Tocheff has described choral conducting as his “first love,” and this passion still shows. When asked about his fondest memories at MVNU, he replied that, “Fully answering this question would fill an entire book for sure.” 

One of his favorite memories is his conducting and directorship of the Treble Singers Women’s Choir from 1981-1991 and then Collegians Chorale from 1991 and onward. Both choirs were accepted to perform at the Ohio Music Education Annual under his leadership and toured throughout Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. 

Shortly after beginning to direct the Collegians Chorale, MVNC’s then chaplain Gary Sivewright invited them to travel abroad to Hungary as part of an initiative that was very significant to the startup of the Nazarene Church in Hungary. “This involvement is one of my most cherished endeavors. Then I caught the travel abroad ministry ‘bug’ and began to plan and execute mission trips on my own with Collegians Chorale. I’ve done nine of these, most recently in May 2023.” 

Tocheff and the Collegians Chorale have also toured in France, Portugal, Austria, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Spain, the Czech Republic, and The Netherlands. He has also directed the Collegians as they sang the National Anthem at MLB games for the Cleveland Guardians and the Cincinnati Reds. “Also very meaningful to me was the 12 years that I chaired the music department and led it through the first accreditation process with NASM (National Association of Schools of Music).” 

Dr. Tocheff is not only passionate about music but also incredibly passionate about the MVNU community and his faith. He declared, “To hone my choral conducting craft in an atmosphere that celebrates my faith in Jesus Christ is the highest privilege I can think of. I am so glad that MVNU is not merely “affiliated” with the Nazarene Church but integrally connected as a valued arm of the denomination. This community has been incredible for me professionally and with my family.” With such a storied and prolific career, Tocheff has a vast amount of wisdom, experience, and love for his students. The message he would like to leave for the many students he has mentored throughout the years is this: “Study hard; become excellent in your discipline, while all the time keeping Christ at the center of your goals and dreams. ‘In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will direct your paths.’”

Students Find Community Between Cultures
by Abby Almodovar

As campus closed down and classes wrapped up, a group of Mount Vernon Nazarene University students and faculty took full advantage of spring break and traveled nearly 3,000 miles to Keflavik, Iceland. Through an organization called Compass Path, they worked at a Salvation Army location from March 1-10. 

Faith West described these 10 days as both people-oriented and transformational. The students helped clean the building, work the thrift store, and serve lunch. Most importantly, they interacted with refugees from places like Venezuela, Ukraine, Palestine, and Colombia who attended meals and community events. 

West explained that many of the volunteers in Iceland were refugees themselves and that witnessing their hospitality was touching. These volunteers were in a difficult phase of waiting, “But they chose to come out and work, to do something constructive and serve their fellow person.” West considered, “It challenged me — because if these people can do it, what does that look like for me?” 

One Venezuelan couple who attended meals throughout the week had a particular impact on both West and Delaney Brinkman, a student who translated Spanish for them. After having a conversation about food, the young wife returned the next day to bring each student their favorite snacks. 

Brinkman and West both expressed their gratitude over this memory, and West commented, “It was just really sweet. These people are living in dorms, and they don’t have a lot — they had to give up everything to come to Iceland and start a new life. For this person to take time out of her day and spend money on us was beautiful.” 

Throughout her time in Iceland, Brinkman witnessed firsthand the value of language. “A lot of the refugees there were learning the languages of other refugees so that they could better meet their needs and talk to them,” she reflected, “It’s also helped me to learn more about my Spanish-speaking gifts and ways that I can use them.” 

West, who did experience a communication barrier, expressed that she learned “the importance of sitting with people and sharing space, even if you don’t speak the same language. A lot can happen by just being together, and it just showed me how we can demonstrate the love of Christ without necessarily speaking the same language.”

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