Who is Ruth Ann Breuninger? - The Echo News
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Who is Ruth Ann Breuninger?

Ruth Ann Breuninger has left behind a significant legacy here at Taylor.

By David Seaman

Taylor’s new dorm now has a name: Breuninger Hall. But Breuninger is not exactly a name students are familiar with. Who is this mysterious person, and why is a residence hall taking up the name?

“Dr. Breuninger, or Dr. B, was a very engaging, very popular and effective faculty member,” said Dean of Students Skip Trudeau.

Ruth Ann Breuninger was a Christian Education professor from 1964 to 1975. One of her biggest claims to fame on campus was starting the Lighthouse program. What started as a program taking Christian Education students to the Bahamas soon evolved into something more.

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In recent years, the program has seen 2,200 students participate in 150 mission trips to 29 different countries .

“She developed and expanded the metaphor of shedding light through short term missions,” Trudeau said.

Breuninger’s instigation of the Lighthouse program was groundbreaking for Taylor in 1972. Before Breuninger, very little was focused on the international service-learning that Taylor is known for today. The Lighthouse program marked Breuninger as a visionary for providing students with international experience.

When Breuninger became the first woman hired in the Christian Education department in 1964, there were only a handful of majors. When she resigned in 1975, there were over 100 majors. Her love of God and others showed in her actions of mentoring hundreds of students one-on-one, along with sponsoring student clubs.

Breuninger had many outreaches outside of Taylor as well, including teaching posts at Columbia Bible College and Lancaster Bible College. She was also involved in ministries and churches ranging from California to Maryland.

These accomplishments were enough for a name proposal for the new dorm from the president’s cabinet. After a developed proposal, it was vetted on-campus then taken to a subcommittee of the Taylor Board of Trustees. There it was approved by the board.

Naming the building was both a clear choice and a difficult one.

“That’s a tricky, tricky thing, when you’re naming a building while there’s no donor to say ‘I’ll give you money if you name this building after such and such’,” Trudeau said.

Taylor, however, has a history of honoring service to the institution through legacy naming of buildings such as residence halls.  While most of the residence halls are named after men except for Grace Olson (and Mary English, who was a spouse of a distinguished graduate), the decision was still made in favor of Breuninger. Because Breuninger was one of the first woman hired for a significant department on campus, “she was a pretty unanimous choice from the administration of who we wanted to name the new dorm after,” Trudeau said.

Breuninger passed away in 2007, but her impact has lived on in the Christian Education department and Lighthouse program. Now it will live on in Breuninger Hall.

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