Photo Friday: The Ernie Boyer Method of Mingling

Ernest L. Boyer mingling with employees of the central administration of SUNY in Albany, New York. -BCA

Ernest L. Boyer mingling with employees of the central administration of SUNY in Albany, New York. -BCA

Today’s Photo Friday post features Ernie Boyer mingling with employees of the State University of New York (SUNY) Administration. On the surface, it may seem that this event is of little importance. However, what is occurring in today’s featured picture is something that is important to any profession: networking. By talking with various people at social events Boyer was able to accomplish many tasks simultaneously. He was able to build connections with people and stay informed about current issues in education. He also was able to establish an avenue to both receive and give help to his colleagues. Perhaps more importantly, through these types of events Boyer could achieve another goal, a goal that he had in common with many of the people attending social events like cocktail parties.

In her book Many Mansions, Boyer’s wife Kay describes this goal and the way it was accomplished by Boyer as almost an art form. She says:

These parties were an interesting study for me, and I was intrigued by watching people as they arrived and following their movements after they took a quick glance around the crowed room. They would politely greet people while moving swiftly to the one or two individuals they had sought out upon entering the room; often they had come to the party specifically to lobby for a particular cause. Under the pressure of busy daytime schedules, these events were often the only way to take care of some pressing issues

While Boyer shared this goal of taking care of certain issues with other professionals, he had his own unique methods, particularly in the fact that he was not always alone on these social ventures. Kay “loved to go and went whenever [her] duties allowed.” She was an important part in Boyer’s method of mingling. She could “help with the spying” or “alert Ernie if one of the people he was hoping to speak to was making moves toward the exit.”

In addition, Boyer was different than most professionals in that there were things that he valued more than accomplishing these goals of establishing connections or addressing a certain issues. For example, one of the reasons why Kay loved to go with Ernie to cocktail parties and vice versa was because it was a chance for them to “enjoy some time together.” They even referred to it as their own version of “date night.” Moreover, for Boyer the idea of mingling with people was about understanding others and who they were. He wanted to discover ways that he could help them, and he wanted to establish personal friendships. This is why the Boyers frequently hosted dinner parties for students, faculty, and administrators, and always made it a point to shake everyone’s hand and remember their names.

Therefore, today’s post represents how both Ernie and Kay Boyer never separated their hospitality, kindness, and friendship with their work. Many professionals today would do well to adapt the Ernie Boyer method of mingling.


Photo Friday: The First Time They Met

Photograph of Ernest L. and Kay Boyer taken at Butler University. - BCA

Photograph of Ernest L. and Kay Boyer taken at Butler University. – BCA

Today’s Photo Friday post shows Ernie Boyer and his wife Kay at Butler University in 1994. This photo is just one of many taken of Ernie and Kay as they attended events for Ernie’s work over the years.

This past Sunday, I attended a church service at the Grantham Brethren in Christ Church on the campus of Messiah College. After the service, I had the pleasure of talking with an elderly couple, who informed me that they were good friends of the Boyers and that they had been friends since Ernie and Kay were dating when they attended the Messiah Academy.

When I heard this story, I began to envision what life was like for Ernie and Kay at that time, and more specifically how they first met and the significance of that event. Fortunately, in the 1996 special edition of the Messiah College’s Magazine, The Bridge, their daughter Beverly paints a vivid picture of this first meeting. She writes:

It was in the registration line on the first day at Messiah Academy- now Messiah College. My mother left the farm where she grew up just miles from here, and my father had left his birthplace of Dayton, Ohio to come to this Brethren in Christ Boarding School. He loved to tell how he was standing in line and noticed a sweet-looking girl standing several people in front of him. He obviously took a good first look, because he delighted in describing the way her hair was swept up into a bun and the cute freckles across her cheeks and nose. He said she emanated a reserved charm and an innocent cheerfulness that completely entranced him.

Remembering his mother’s parting words when he left home (‘Now Ernest, I want you to find yourself a nice girl to marry!’) he made bold the following day and asked her to the school’s first formal dinner… They were married six years later and began a life together that was to span four-and-a-half decades.

This story is not only a significant moment in the life of Ernie and Kay, but it also a story on which many others hinge. As a result of their meeting and marriage, Ernie and Kay were able to form both a family and many lifelong friendships, such as with the elderly couple I talked to. It was through Ernie’s support and comfort that Kay became a nurse midwife and successfully led a household that would radiate love into every community they lived in. Yet, Beverly also states that, for Ernie, Kay’s “unwavering devotion was the granite foundation for his whole being”. She would sit in on meetings, revise papers, and send correspondence to aid Ernie’s work with the elites in education.
Therefore, today’s post pays tribute to the love that Ernie and Kay had for each other which spilled into lives of others. From the small community of Grantham Pennsylvania to national leaders, this couple made lasting influences on and memories with everyone around them, and it all started the first time they met.

Although the 1996 special edition of The Bridge is not available on the Boyer Center Archives Online Database, please feel free to contact us at the Boyer Center Archives for more information about the above excerpt or The Bridge Magazine as a whole.


Photo Friday: At Home in the “Chancellor House Mansion”

Black and white photo of Ernest L. and Kay Boyer sitting in the living room of the SUNY chancellor’s home in Albany. - BCA

Black and white photo of Ernest L. and Kay Boyer sitting in the living room of the SUNY chancellor’s home in Albany. – BCA

Earlier this week, Service Fulfilled previewed Many Mansions: Lessons of Faith, Family, and Public Service (ACU Press, 2014), the recently-released memoir by Ernie Boyer’s wife, Kay. In the book, she traces her family’s life journey by focusing on the many homes they occupied throughout the U.S.: from their first “Honeymoon Cottage Magical Mansion” in Orlando, Florida, to their final “Family Home Mansion” in Princeton, N.J.

One of the mid-life homes — the “Chancellor House Mansion” — was the Boyer’s residence while Ernie served as the head of the State University of New York from 1971-1976. Today’s Photo Friday post showcases a photo of Ernie and Kay relaxing in that home. (More details about the photo here.)

In Many Mansions, Kay describes the house’s primary function: hospitality.

From our earliest days in the Chancellor House, we felt it was important to reach out with warmth and hospitality to many groups. Ernie wanted to focus his leadership on students, so our first big event at Chancellor House was a large reception for student-body presidents, members of student senates, and student editors from all of the sixty-four SUNY campuses. A little later, we gave a reception to show friendship to the people living on our street, and then to a large group of members of the news media. Ernie and I shook hands with everyone and then moved among the guests to show friendship.

The main function of the house was as a gathering place for the daylong meetings, special lunches, and formal dinners. These could involve groups of the campus presidents, administrators, faculty leaders, student representatives, Ernie’s central administrative staff, and others. The goal was to create a warm, friendly, home-like atmosphere that would make it easy to create personal connections. Ernie and I both made considerable efforts to remember each person’s name at every event. This was all part of his leadership style, and I enjoyed working in partnership with him. I planned the menus and directed events, which gave me wonderful opportunities to meet many outstanding students, faculty members, and administrators.

To read more about the “Chancellor House Mansion,” as well as the Boyer family’s other residences, check out Many Mansions, now available to purchase.

Many Mansions: Kathryn Boyer’s Memoir

Ernie and Kay Boyer on their wedding day. -- ELB Center Archives

Ernie and Kay Boyer on their wedding day. — ELB Center Archives

If you spend enough time immersed in Dr. Ernest L. Boyer’s professional work, it won’t take long to discover tiny glimpses of his life at home. Anecdotes of his family crept into speeches and impromptu remarks. It’s a nice reminder that despite his devotion to public service and commitment to quality education he also held a deep devotion to his family. Boyer understood that serving his wife and children as a good husband and father was just as (perhaps more so) important as his career.

Now we have the opportunity to peer deeper into Boyer’s dedication to his family with the publication of Kathryn Boyer’s memoir, Many Mansions: Lessons of Faith, Family, and Public Service.

many-mansionsOfficially released last year at a private reception at Messiah College, the memoir chronicles the myriad experiences of the Ernest L. Boyer family. Each chapter focuses on a different house (there are 20 total!) the family lived in and the memories made in those homes. For any scholar of Ernest L. Boyer, Kathryn Boyer’s memoir in memory of her husband expands his legacy even further and widens our comprehension of the man behind the service.

You can purchase your copy of the book, published by Abilene Christian University Press, here.

Look for more posts about this book coming soon!