Truly Pioneers for Life

These alums moved onto campus as students and have remained as valued employees to this day.  

By Sarah A. Moser


Pioneers for Life is more than just a tagline for two MidAmerica Nazarene University alums. It’s become a real way of life. 

Arlene Fender (’83) serves as the Controller at MNU. She handles such tasks as financial reporting, taxes, and annual audits. She also managed the lion’s share of the grant work that helped keep the university afloat during the early days of the pandemic. 

Stan Hinshaw (’87) is the MNU Database Administrator, managing Banner, the student information system, as well as handling software updates, reporting, e-mail accounts, and more. He has also written some in-house programs to streamline student registrations. 

Fender hails from Shenandoah, IA. Hinshaw calls Wichita, KS, home.

Fender calls Lunn Hall home base, while Hinshaw spends his days in Dobson.

So, what do these two MNU staff members have in common? 

Both came to MNU as freshmen—and never left! These “lifers” fell in love with the university, found jobs on campus as students, and have stayed ever since. That’s 43 years for Fender and 37 years for Hinshaw (including their undergraduate years plus full-time employment). 

MNU: An easy choice
Fender became familiar with MNU when music groups from the university would visit her home church in Shenandoah, IA. Two years after graduating high school and saving money to cover expenses, she followed in her two older brothers’ footsteps and headed to Olathe. 

“I was looking forward to getting out of our small town and making new friends at the school,” Fender says. “I was never homesick at all once I got here. I was so ready to do something new.”

Hinshaw also grew up in a Nazarene church. He says his home church had an artistic blueprint rendering of MNU hanging in the foyer. He thinks it somehow influenced his school choice. “I always assumed I would end up at MNU,” he says. “It was sort of understood, having attended MNU for quizzing events and knowing so many people who came here, that MNU was the place to go. And having attended public high school, I was ready for a Christian environment. I really didn’t consider other places.”

Friends, faith & future plans
Fender made fast friends with a handful of girls that first semester, many from her dorm in Stockton Hall. “It was nice to have friends whose families lived in the area, and I’d often spend Sunday afternoons with them,” Fender says. 

Not only did friends keep homesickness at bay, but the love and care of others in the community helped as well. For example, College Church of the Nazarene matched students up with church families who provided students with homecooked meals throughout the year. Also, Fender connected with a mentor her freshman year who often checked on her and took her to lunch. “It was great to get to know families in the community and to have others check up on me,” she says. 

While a student, Fender volunteered with the Vita Volunteer program to help students with their taxes. An accounting professor set up this program, and Fender says it helped connect her to even more people at school. “One of the things that impressed me the most at MNU was how much professors would ask how I was doing and show genuine concern,” says Fender. “One time during my sophomore year, I was worried about how I was going to pay for the next semester of schooling. I went down to the altar at College Church to pray, and the MNU Bursar, who I didn’t even know at the time, came down and prayed with me. I don’t remember her words, but I do remember how I felt compassion and that God would see me through. It was then that I switched from the nursing program to accounting. It was God’s way of adjusting my path.”

Fender worked for the business department as a student employee doing clerical work, processing checks, filing, and calling vendors. She planned to stay on for the summer before starting her job search. Then her boss asked her to accept a full-time job as the controller when the person in that position left to start a family. “And I’ve been here ever since!” she says.

Hinshaw also experienced a solid start to his time at MNU. Upon moving into his dorm on campus, Hinshaw met a kind sophomore who in turn introduced him to a friend of his. Hinshaw already knew his roommate. Then, during orientation activities, including a scavenger hunt that helped students learn their way around campus, he met even more people. He says the Welcome Week activities and meeting friendly people solidified his decision to be at MNU. 

That first semester, Hinshaw switched from double majoring in math and music to computers and math—a move that set the trajectory for his life. 

“My freshman year MNU hired me to work in the computer department,” says Hinshaw. “I worked over the summer, and I haven’t ever moved back.” He didn’t think of it at the time, but now he wonders about the impact on his parents. They surely expected their son to come home for summer breaks!

 It didn’t take long for Hinshaw to make his mark on MNU. As a sophomore, he headed up a project to fully computerize the academic registration process. 

“When I arrived on campus, they used hash sheets to keep track of closed classes,” he says. “I spent my first summer working to make it electronic. The project that meant the most to me was the first one I did. I felt like I accomplished something big right off the bat.”

Since then, Hinshaw has worked to maintain the Banner system that’s used campus-wide and conduct project planning. 

“Stan is known as the subject matter expert on everything Banner and Oracle,” says Mark Leinwetter, Director of Information Technology. “I’ve been able to work as Stan’s manager for the last eight years. He takes a professional approach with MNU’s best interests at heart. Stan is diligent, with attention to detail that’s necessary for the information technology profession.”

Leinwetter praises how Hinshaw collaborates well and communicates effectively within the department as well as around the entire university. “He has a can-do attitude, an analytic mindset, a coachable personality, and continually seeks professional development opportunities outside MNU,” he says. 

 While computer work fills most of his days, music still plays an important role in Hinshaw’s life. He may have dropped his music major, but he never quit his love for playing the trumpet. And he credits working at a small, private university with giving him many ways to stay involved. 

“A perk of working at a smaller university is that when the band has an opening, I can fill in,” says Hinshaw. “I know that at a larger school, I wouldn’t get to play as often as I do here. Staying involved has allowed me to go on several trips with the MNU band, including to England, Russia, and Ukraine.”

Hinshaw also puts his trumpet skills to work playing at MNU graduations, at Central Church of the Nazarene where he attends, and in community bands and musical theatre performances. 

“As a consequence of networking with people I’ve met and built relationships with at MNU, I’ve enjoyed a lot of musical opportunities,” he says. 

Making MNU a permanent home
The average time Americans stay at one job is just 4.1 years. And most people will hold an average of 12 jobs in their lifetime. This statistic makes people like Fender and Hinshaw anomalies. But they say the MNU culture makes it easy to stay. 

“We have a lot of stability in our department,” says Hinshaw. “And we’ve had temporary employees or contractors seek permanent work with us. That speaks well for the culture of the school. The people here make a difference. Everyone is a little kinder than you’d often find in the average workplace. The pressure is lower, even though we keep our standards high.”

Don’t ever confuse longevity with complacency. Fender and Hinshaw are always striving to improve themselves and the space around them. 

“Stan’s tenure at MNU speaks for itself at 33 years,” says Leinwetter. “He is known as a mentor, always quick with a positive word, and he is considered somewhat of an MNU historian. He volunteers willingly for campus activities, chapel assistance, commencement, President’s Honors, and playing the trumpet for various MNU band performances.” Leinwetter says it’s a joy to work with Hinshaw, whom he calls a well-respected team player.

Fender also loves being on the MNU team. “Working here allows me to be a part of something God is working in,” she says. “Even after all these years, it’s still exciting. It touches me to see the changes happening around us. God just keeps supplying miracles.”

While most people on campus won’t realize it, Fender has been an important part of keeping the university afloat, according to Christa Jenkins, who works in the MidAmerica Nazarene University Foundation. 

“Arlene is a behind-the-scenes linchpin of the operations of the university,” says Jenkins. “She must be in place for all the other roles of the university to function. She has made this her mission field, a very quiet one. She is a vital component of this ministry. Sometimes people don’t think of a job like hers as a mission field, but the rest of the university, the impact on students, employees, and the community, wouldn’t happen without her work keeping the machine moving. You need the ‘Arlenes’ of this world to accomplish our mission. Everyone who has worked here, no matter how long or short, has benefited from her role.”

And everyone might also benefit from this piece of parting advice from Fender: “Plant yourself where God is working,” she says. “For me, that is here at MNU. I love seeing people walk through these halls and what they’ve done after they leave, and I know I am in the right place. And if you are struggling in life, look at all the positive things going on. Look in the Bible; many times, things didn’t go right, but God was still working in and through the people who followed Him.” 



Office Hours
Mon. - Fri. 8:00AM—5:00PM