HU honors Friesen with name on its center for volunteer service

A van used by Huntington University’s Friesen Center for Volunteer Service displays the center’s new name, honoring HU administrator Dr. Norris Friesen (third from left).
A van used by Huntington University’s Friesen Center for Volunteer Service displays the center’s new name, honoring HU administrator Dr. Norris Friesen (third from left). Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Huntington University recognized the influence of one of its long-time faculty members by bestowing his name on the school's center for volunteer service.

The Friesen Center for Volunteer Service honors Dr. Norris Friesen, who has served the university - and the wider community - since arriving at HU in 1985, said Ron Coffey, HU's vice president for student development, in announcing the honor on Monday, May 6.

The center, previously known as the Joe Mertz Center for Volunteer Service, has coordinated an average of 10,000 volunteer hours each year since its founding in 1992, center Director Grace McBrayer says. If the students, faculty and staff members had been paid minimum wage, she says, the hours would have been worth $1.444 million, she says.

Friesen himself has put in many volunteer hours, McBrayer said as she presented him with one of the first "Friesen Center for Volunteer Service" T-shirts.

HU President Blair Dowden said Friesen recommended to him that the school accept the grant offered by the Joe Mertz Foundation in 1992 to establish the center. The Mertz Foundation has since dissolved and no longer provides funding for the center, Dowden said, providing the university with a fitting way to honor Friesen.

Friesen has inspired many HU students to serve others, Dowden says, "because they have seen his capacity for hard work; his servant's heart."

In addition to his service through HU, Dowden noted, Friesen serves both as a board member and build volunteer for Huntington County Habitat for Humanity, serves many other community organizations in Huntington and has led HU students and staff members on more than 20 missions trips.

The new name for the center was approved unanimously by the HU board of trustees, Dowden said.

Friesen came to HU in 1985 as dean of student services and has also served as vice president for student development, interim academic dean and vice president and dean of the university. He currently serves as the director of institutional effectiveness and as a professor of German. He coordinates new faculty development, assists in developing and implementing strategies to recruit Chinese students and organizes and leads cross-cultural experiences.

Complete caption: A van used by Huntington University’s Friesen Center for Volunteer Service displays the center’s new name, honoring HU administrator Dr. Norris Friesen (third from left). With Friesen are (from left) Abby Goering, Jacob Cross, Jason Wright and Lauren Kirby, all students serving with the center.