At Home at Hendrix

Bobby & Sarah Engeler-Young

By Rachel Thomas '14

When Bobby Engeler-Young '93 came to interview for his first position in the Hendrix Media Center, the subject of "dress code" inevitably came up.

Anyone who knew Engeler-Young as a student will get the joke.

It started when Bobby and Sarah Engeler-Young '91 decided to go to a Sadie Hawkins dance with friends and, rather than walking back to their separate dorms, went to Sarah's room and dressed up in what she had.

After that, Bobby kept wearing the dress off and on. It was always that particular dress.

"We tried to get other dresses, but ... ," Sarah said.

"None of them were like that one," Bobby finishes. "That one was the right dress."

The couple married the summer before Bobby's junior year. Sarah had graduated with a sociology degree, but she spent the two years until Bobby graduated getting a second degree in theatre.

Although the Engeler-Youngs no longer don matching dresses, have duels with retractable swords and die dramatically in the center of campus, they keep their work and home lives creative and fun.

And Hendrix is still the setting.

Sarah is now the office and building manager for the Bertie Wilson Murphy House, the home of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language. Since she joined the staff eight years ago, one of her ongoing projects as "goodwill ambassador" has been helping students feel comfortable hanging out in the house.

"I actually saw a girl show up for a luncheon with a speaker one day, she came in and she made it to the bottom of the stairs and she sort of looked, and then she started backing towards the door," Sarah says. "She was like, ‘I don't know ... it looks kind of formal and I'm just wearing jeans.' And I'm like, ‘Everyone's wearing jeans. You're in college. Go upstairs."

Sarah says one of the things she's appreciated about Murphy since she was a student is its commitment to giving visiting authors and students time to interact in classes and at Murphy-hosted luncheons.

"Lots of colleges bring people in to speak," Sarah says. "But the student interaction portion of it, that's missing in a lot of places."

Bobby and Sarah always knew they were going to come back to Hendrix.

"I can't really imagine not being at Hendrix at this point," Sarah says. "We've had sort of a variety of jobs ... I've had some where I had no idea what the department I was in did. That doesn't happen here. This is a good goal, what Hendrix does."

Bobby is now the director of the Media Center and has overseen the rapid expansion of audio/visual and technological upgrades on campus.

"We went from having an overhead projector in every classroom and a TV VCR cart in every building to the WAC, DW and MC Reynolds [referring to new facilities Wellness and Athletics Center, Donald W. Reynolds Center for Life Sciences, and the Charles D. Morgan Center for Physical Sciences], needing technology in every classroom every day," he says. "So it's been this boom, this proliferation of technology ... it's kind of mind-boggling."

Even while he was working on the college's technology boom, Bobby contributed to growth in the college's art programs. He has enjoyed dancing since he was a student. When he realized that there were students on campus who were passionate about dance, he started working to get a dance ensemble together, with instructors and, eventually, dance classes on the books.

With the growing demands of technology he has since "passed the baton" of the program to others. "Now I'm just a fan," he says.

The theatre program at Hendrix is now the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, with a full-time dance professor, dance ensemble, scholarships for dance students, and a minor in dance.

Both the Engeler-Youngs have stayed involved with theatre, the subject they both have degrees in. They've taught classes when theatre professors went on sabbatical, and Bobby has taught theatre through Arkansas Governor's School, which is held on the Hendrix campus in the summer.

Aside from being involved with artistic creativity on campus, Sarah says they try to make their family life creative too.

"We spend lots of time just making weird things in the kitchen and collage kinds of things," Sarah says. "We watch TV really creatively ... it can take us like an hour to watch a thirty-minute long thing because everyone's like, pause! pause! And then you have to stop and talk about something, or rewind and laugh at it five times, or have what [our 13-year-old daughter] Zelda calls an ‘interesting conversation'."

Although they no longer wear matching fashion, the Engeler-Youngs are still the Engeler-Youngs.

"The Engeler-Youngs are still here," says Sarah. "And we're still strange."