By Kiera Suffel
Randy Keeler, associate professor of religion, has been in various positions over his time at Bluffton. Although he wasn’t born and raised in Bluffton, one might think he was by the way he lives his life. He is very involved with his family, the community, the university, as well as his church.
Keeler grew up in Souderton, Pa., which is about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. He grew up Mennonite, which is how he first heard of Bluffton University. There was a time when an admissions counselor from Bluffton University visited his church and gave him more insight on the university.
Keeler said his first visit to Bluffton was a cold, rainy day in November where he had an overnight visit staying with some guys in Lincoln Hall.
“It was a bad experience overall,” said Keeler. “Yet, for some reason, I could not get Bluffton out of my head and the beautiful campus.”
Keeler compared schools he was looking at and finally decided to go to Bluffton. During his time as a student at Bluffton, he met his wife, Karen, although she did not attend the university. He met her back in Pennsylvania at a youth Mennonite conference. He later realized that her brother was a guy who lived on his floor. Then, one summer Randy and Karen were on the same staff for a summer camp. They started dating after that and have been married for more than 30 years.
After graduating from Bluffton University, Keeler began to work at what is now the Bluffton Family Recreation Center. Next, he and his wife went to Fresno, Calif., where they worked with voluntary service. Then Keeler attended Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Virginia. After seminary, he was a Mennonite conference minister back in Pennsylvania. He also served on Bluffton University’s Board of Trustees for two years.
While Keeler was back on campus for a meeting, President Elmer Neufeld came to him and asked him to be the campus pastor. As he started as the campus pastor, he also got involved as the university’s men’s soccer coach. He took some time off from being the men’s soccer coach for a few years because he started being a coach and the campus pastor at the same time, which was very time consuming between the two jobs. He went back to coaching the men’s soccer team about three years later. He was a campus pastor for 15 years. He coached at the university for a combined total of 10 years and holds the record for the most wins as a coach of men’s soccer.
Keeler’s three sons went to Bluffton University and his daughter is considering attending the university as well.
As for Keeler’s current involvement at Bluffton University, he is an associate professor of religion, the faculty marshal at graduation, the history and religion department chair and academic director of the BCOMP program. BCOMP offers bachelor’s degree completion programs in organizational management (OMP) and health care management (HCM).
As for Keeler’s current involvement in the community, he is an elder at his church in Pandora, on the board of directors at BFR and is a referee for soccer games in the surrounding area.
“Randy was really the only professor I got to know on and off campus,” said Megan (Thomas) Mast ’16. “I got to know him through church and by working at Camp Luz. He is a very authentic person since he acts the same in the classroom and outside the classroom.”