Manchester College, Heifer International to honor visionary Dan West with permanent exhibit

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – Manchester College and Heifer International are establishing a permanent display at the College to honor Dan West, a distinguished Manchester alumnus who in 1944 founded the global nonprofit’s forerunner, Heifers for Relief Committee.

The display in Funderburg Library at Manchester College features memorabilia reflecting West’s life – from his years as a conscientious objector during World War I to his service as an aid worker during the Spanish Civil War to his life-changing work through the Heifer Project. West died in 1971.

“It’s appropriate that Manchester College and Heifer International share in this testament to Dan West, a visionary whose passion for people and commitment to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth was borne out of the lessons of faith and justice instilled and inspired at Manchester College,” said Charles O. Stewart, interim chief executive officer of the Little Rock-based Heifer International.

West was a 1917 graduate of Manchester, a 1,223-student liberal arts and sciences college in northwest Indiana deeply rooted in the tradition of the Church of the Brethren. The College mission stresses learning, faith, service, integrity, diversity and community in preparing students for life. West was a lifelong member of the Church of the Brethren.

“The vision and commitment of Dan West is woven throughout the fabric of this institution,” said Manchester College President Jo Young Switzer. “He dedicated his life to relief work – from providing milk to hungry children during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s to inspiring farmers to raise and send heifers and other farm animals abroad through Church of the Brethren organizations. He wanted to provide support that helped solve the root of the problem, so each recipient promised to give offspring of the animals to others in need.”

Joining the May 10 unveiling and dedication of the 12-foot-wide by 8-foot-tall display will be West’s daughter Jan Schrock (a 1958 Manchester graduate); Ray Bowman, a Seagoing Cowboy (merchant seamen who “escorted” animals to their overseas destinations); other College and Heifer representatives; and area school and Heifer donors and supporters.

The idea for what has become Heifer International stemmed from West’s service to people during the Spanish Civil War, when he witnessed the challenge of trying to feed people in need with imported powdered milk.

Thus was born West’s “not a cup, but a cow,” inspiration, which today lives on as Heifer International, working in more than 50 countries to end poverty and hunger with gifts of livestock and plants—and education in sustainable agriculture—to financially-disadvantaged families. Recipients are asked to Pass on the Gift of livestock offspring to other families to multiply the aid and benefits.

Many artifacts of West’s service, including his Bible, notebooks, awards and even a Spanish orphan’s shoes, are in the display, said President Switzer. Other items include Seagoing Cowboy memorabilia, including a photograph of Faith, the first heifer given to Heifer International.

Other memorabilia in the exhibit: a copy of the Doctor of Humane Letters conferred by Manchester College upon Heifer International in 1995, West family photographs, some of his handwritten notes, his high school and Manchester College diplomas, his eyeglasses, slide rule, pedometer, pocketknife, his personal books and West’s 25-year Brethren Service Commission pin.

“Dan West was a man with a mission—to help people, to end hunger and to make the world a better place for everyone,” said Jo Luck, president of Heifer International. “We are proud to carry on his work with the families and the children he loved so much around the world.”

“Dan West, the Heifer Project and the Seagoing Cowboys combined ability with conviction to better thousands of lives worldwide,” said Switzer. “We are proud of our Dan West heritage, and are certain that his example has inspired generations of Manchester College graduates and their families, as well as our faculty and staff members to step forward to help make this world a better place.”

Heifer’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the earth. Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in 50 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant. For more about Heifer International: or 800-696-1918.

Manchester, home of the nation’s first peace studies program, offers more than 55 areas of study, with students from 21 states and 20 countries. Service and service learning is woven into the fabric of the College; last school year, Manchester students contributed 19,251 hours of service. For more about the College: or 800-852-3648.