Photo Friday: A Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Dr. Ray Hostetter

Ernest L. Boyer speaking with Dr. Ray Hostetter. -BCA

Ernest L. Boyer speaking with Dr. Ray Hostetter. -BCA

Today’s Photo Friday post focuses not on Ernie Boyer but on his long-time friend and colleague Dr. Ray Hostetter—a man who stood beside Boyer for many years. Hostetter, the sixth president of Messiah College from 1964-1994, passed away on February 12, 2016, at the age of 88.

Boyer and Hostetter worked together closely from the 1970s to the 1990s, a period in which Boyer served on the college’s Board of Trustees and Hostetter served as the college’s president. Yet their friendship dates all the way back to 1940s. As students at what was then Messiah Bible College and as roommates at Greenville College, Boyer and Hostetter shared many memories: pulling pranks, playing chess, playing basketball, and attending the same church, among others.

However, the achievements and resulting legacy of Dr. Hostetter is uniquely his own. Throughout his tenure as president of Messiah College, Dr. Hostetter implemented creative ideas to expand Messiah, turning it from “a local school to a college recognized nationwide for excellence in Christian Higher Education.”

One simple way to see this improvement is to look at the operating budget of the college. At the start of Dr. Hostetter’s presidency, the college had a $400,000 budget; by the time he retired the budget had grown to $65 million. This advancement may be attributed to the fact that, prior to his presidency at Messiah, Dr. Hostetter was the college’s vice president of finance and development. Such leadership in finance was essential for raising funds to support the exponential growth in the number of student enrolled.

Another way to understand Dr. Hostetter’s success is to consider the growth of the student body. At the start of his presidency, 250 students were enrolled at Messiah. By the time he retired, 2,300 students were enrolled. As a result of accommodating these new students, the college also expanded its physical plant: it built a learning center, a campus center, a sports center, an arts center, an education hall, and ten residence halls.

Dr. Hostetter also implemented new ideas to expand student opportunities to grow academically and become connected globally. For example, he implemented a cooperative venture with Temple University to create the Messiah Philly Campus. In addition, under Dr. Hostetter, Messiah College teamed up with Daystar University in Kenya to enable Third World students a chance to earn a baccalaureate degree. Both of these ventures helped establish national recognition for Messiah.

However, as board member Harold Engle said, Dr. Hostetter’s dedication to Messiah was most evident in his “dignity, integrity, and humility.” He always acknowledged his accomplishments as a result of “teamwork of board, administration, and faulty, and has given God the glory.”

As a result of what Dr. Hostetter achieved over the course of his life, “anyone who has been near the development of Christian Higher Education would have to say that the accomplishments of Dr. and Mrs. Hostetter were unprecedented.” But it is not just those in academia who see the legacy of Dr. Hostetter. In fact, his legacy lives on in the “thousands of well-trained Christian young men and women who have gone out into the community and throughout the world to witness about Jesus Christ and to share their knowledge and abilities with tens of thousands of others.”

Perhaps Boyer best summarized Hostetter’s legacy when he gave this tribute to his friend during his retirement:

And all of this occurred during Ray Hostetter’s tenure as president of Messiah College. It has been a truly remarkable record of achievement—educationally, spiritually, and fiscally, as well. Under President Hostetter’s leadership an extraordinary institution of Christian Higher Education has been built. And we are all deeply in his debt.


Photo Friday: Boyer’s Degrees

Ernest L. Boyer as a 1946 Messiah Academy (high school) graduate.

Ernest L. Boyer as a 1946 Messiah Academy (high school) graduate.

Today’s Photo Friday post features Ernie Boyer’s Messiah Academy graduation photo. While this photo may not be the most engaging we have had on Service Fulfilled, the story behind it is greatly important, especially in light of recent events in the Boyer Archives.

Being that Boyer was an alumnus of Messiah College (known during his student days as Messiah Bible College), a current Messiah student recently posed a question to the archives staff: “What did Boyer major in when he was at Messiah?” While the question is so basic, its answer is often overlooked when discussing the numerous accomplishments Boyer made in his later years.

To answer this question it must first be understood that when Boyer came to Messiah in 1945, he came to enroll in the Messiah Academy, a high school program sponsored by the college in those days. One year later he enrolled in what was then Messiah Bible College. Although the college offered various tracks of study, it was not accredited to grant bachelor’s degrees. Thus Boyer applied the credits he had earned from the bible college to a bachelor’s degree program at Greenville College, a Free Methodist school in Illinois. Although there is conflicting evidence as to his major at Greenville, it is clear that he studied history and psychology.

Yet, because Boyer later played a key role in American education, including as the chancellor of the SUNY university system and as the U.S. Commissioner of Education, this then begs another question: Why did Boyer shift his focus from history and psychology to education and administration?

To answer this question we must continue our re-tracing of Boyer’s academic pursuits. After graduating from Greenville College in 1950, Boyer and his wife, Kay, moved to Florida, where Ernie became a pastor of a small Brethren in Christ Church. However, one year later, wanting to continue his studies, Ernie accepted a faculty position at Upland College in Southern California. (This school, like Messiah in those days, was owned and operated by the Brethren in Christ Church.) It was in Southern California that he began working on his master’s and doctorate degrees in speech at the University of Southern California.

Yet, there were a few times when it seemed that Boyer might not finish his degree. One such instance occurred in 1954, when he was forced to withdraw his attendance from the university for a term due to an “emergency appendix and abdominal exploratory operation.” Still, not only did Boyer persevere through these difficult times, he thrived. It seems that his teaching and administrative roles at Upland College caused a change in Boyer. As Kay notes in her book Many Mansions,

Ernie was also interested in the development of the curriculum and was formulating his own educational philosophy. Being a member of the college curriculum committee ignited his thinking and passion. . . . Given his passion, I started to understand his fascination with the subject and recognize the importance of the work he was doing on this committee; in many ways he would continue to do this work over the course of his life.

Today’s Photo Friday post is not only a formal answer to the student who posed the question of Boyer’s degrees; it is also a glimpse into the reality of the educational experience, which builds a foundation for one’s life and provides direction for the future.


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: Molding the Life of a Future Educator

Photo of Ernest L. Boyer as a 1948 graduate of Messiah Bible College -- BCA

Photo of Ernest L. Boyer as a 1948 graduate of Messiah Bible College — BCA

Blogger’s Note: This post launches a new regular series here at the “Service Fulfilled” blog: Photo Friday! Each week, we’ll highlight a new image from the Archives’ photographic collection. Our image collection (which is only partially digitized) documents each and every stage of Boyer’s life, from his early years in Dayton, Ohio, to his latter years in Princeton, New Jersey. So entries in this regular series will provide an understanding of Boyer’s life and work from many different times and at many different places. Enjoy!

By the time this post goes live, the spring semester at Messiah College — the institutional “home” of the Boyer Center and its archive — will be well underway. Students have returned from their winter break and have entered into a new season of classes and extra-curricular activities. Campus is buzzing with activity now that students are back and another semester has begun!

Here in the Boyer Center Archives, the start of a new semester has me thinking about the student days of Ernie Boyer, who attended what was then Messiah Bible College from 1946-1948. (He had graduated from Messiah Academy, a two-year high school-like program, earlier.)Boyer’s 1948 graduation photo is highlighted in today’s post.

By most accounts, Boyer was a model student at the Bible College — beloved by his teachers, and popular with his fellow students. As the College’s academic dean wrote to Boyer’s father, Clarence, in 1946, “Ernest is well respected by the student body. We feel much of this is due to the interest which you as parents have had in molding his life.”

As you might suspect, Messiah was a very different institution back in the early 20th century! At the time it was owned by the Brethren in Christ Church (it no longer has legal ties to the denomination, although it maintains a close relationship) and emphasized training for missions and religious service over other vocations.

Still, the College’s present-day educational commitments — to academic excellence, to training for service and leadership, to emphasis on building community — are very much rooted in its history. In fact, in later years, Boyer would comment on the College’s “legacy” and the ways that its past continue to influence its present mission and identity. What’s more, these commitments clearly shaped Boyer personally, since he would later go on to champion such issues as education for service and community-building on campus.

We’ll be sure to highlight Boyer’s time as a college student — both at Messiah and his undergraduate alma mater, Greenville College — in future posts. Stay tuned!

March Madness

It’s that time of year again.  Rabid college basketball fans are obsessing over their bracket picks and following every game in the NCAA basketball tournament.  As a freshman at Messiah Bible College, Ernest L. Boyer played guard for the varsity basketball team.  The team ended the season with four wins and one loss.  Their opponents?  Various alumni from Grantham, Carlisle, Franklin, and Lancaster. Judging from the photo below it seems Boyer specialized in defense.

Ernie Boyer - a defensive specialist.

Ernie Boyer (bottom row, first on the left) with his intramural basketball team.

Freshman Year

Today marks the start of classes for the 2013-2014 academic year at Messiah College.  Books have been purchased, pencils have been sharpened, syllabi are ready for distribution, and I am almost certain that assignments have already been allocated.  For returning upperclassmen, this routine is old-hat. For incoming freshman, however, every experience is a new one.  It’s both exhilarating and terrifying all at once.  On the one hand you can have only dessert for dinner and your parents don’t have to know.  Exhilarating!  On the other hand you may experience startling moments of comprehension that you are well on your way to being a full-fledged adult.  Terrifying!  Freshman year for anyone is full of changes, transitions, and a new beginning.  And yes, even Ernest Boyer was once a young freshman at Messiah Bible College during the 1946-1947 academic year. Perhaps following Ernie’s lead will make for a successful freshman year.  The excerpt below is what The Clarion had to say about Boyer under his yearbook photo:

ERNEST BOYER – Full of fun… congenial…interested in the deeper things of life.

Boyer served on student council, sang in the male chorus, played guard on the varsity basketball team, and was editor of The Clarion.  So, for those incoming freshman wondering what they should seek out during their first year in college, just ask yourself “what would Ernie do?”.  The answer seems to be…a little bit of everything.  Most importantly, enjoy your first year of college because it will be over faster than you expect.  Oh, and remember to be congenial too.