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Speaker tells 2013 grads how Bethel has equipped them to “move the world”

Weather forced some changes to Bethel’s 120th commencement May 19, but also put the newest capital improvement to the test, which it passed easily.

A large tornado menacing Wichita, and the accompanying severe weather 30 miles away in North Newton, right at the time scheduled for commencement, meant the 108 members of the Class of 2013 had to forgo both ceremonies in Thresher Stadium and the traditional march around the Green.

Maintenance staff carted one of the college’s threshing stones into Memorial Hall, so the graduates could touch it, according to tradition, as they processed to their seats.

Up until the time it moved to Thresher Stadium, in 2008, commencement had been held for decades in Mem Hall, producing generations’ worth of memories of the heat and humidity of a full auditorium.

Earlier this spring, however, the college installed air conditioning in both Mem Hall and adjacent Thresher Gym. This was its first use with a capacity crowd and it worked perfectly.

Douglas Penner ’69, Topeka, Bethel president 1995-2002, who recently retired after 10 years as president of the Kansas Independent College Association and Fund, gave the commencement address, which he titled “You want to move a heavy boulder?”

To be asked to speak was “a rare privilege, even more so when the college is your alma mater,” said Penner, “and in particular for the 125th [anniversary of the college].”

Penner quoted the Greek mathematician Archimedes: “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world.”

“Leverage, applied properly, dramatically [increases] your strength,” Penner said. “The impact of the best kind of college education, such as the one you got at Bethel, is that it’s where the lever and the place to stand are developed.”

Read more of Dr. Penner’s words of wisdom for the Class of 2013, plus find photos from commencement weekend on Bethel’s website.

Love of animals enhances students’ academic disciplines

Spring is senior seminar season at Bethel. For four students, this spring was also a chance to apply their love of animals to both scholarly pursuits and a desire to help people.

It’s not unusual, of course, for animals to be part of senior research -- from microorganisms to zebra fish to tons’ worth of beef cattle. What was different this year was having “companion animals” -- specifically horses, dogs and/or cats -- as a vital component.

Shayne Runnion, social work major, grew up on a farm/ranch near Phillipsburg, where she has been riding horses since she could walk and training them since she was 10. . . .

For her project, she studied five developmentally disabled clients of Horses to Humans of Wichita, which has a mission to help people “discover their own paths to healing and betterment through partnering with horses.” . . .

Natalia Vanover, Mountain Lake, Minn., another social work major, decided to look at “what kind of grief responses people experience when losing a pet.”

She first wanted to do research on whether interacting with a pet would affect human stress levels, but discovered “it’s really hard to measure stress.” She began talking with her professors about other ideas for projects using animals.

One of them suggested looking at “disenfranchised grief,” which hadn’t been studied much -- “a type of grief where society doesn’t recognize the relationship or the loss,” Vanover says. “Others don’t realize how close people feel to their pets -- people feel like others don’t really understand their grief.”

Two other Bethel seniors majoring in science took advantage of the willingness of the staff at the local animal shelter, Caring Hands Humane Society in Newton, to work with college students.

When biology major Lizzie Shelly of Lenexa, was considering her senior research project, she also hoped for one that involved companion animals. She found Caring Hands and its behavior specialist, Lori Smith, very willing to accommodate her.

“I like animals, first of all,” Shelly says. “I also took Animal Behavior in my freshman year and I liked the computer program we used [to measure] animal behavior, JWalker. I wanted to use it again.”

She decided “to see if there was correlation between how long a dog had been at the shelter and how uncomfortable it was around strangers. I would take someone from Bethel as the ‘stranger’ and go to Caring Hands.

“I’d bring a dog into the visitation room and then film the interaction between the stranger and the dog for five minutes.”

Ashley Klein, Newton, is completing a double major in psychology and natural sciences. Like Runnion, she came to Bethel thinking she’d pursue one vocational angle -- web coding and web design -- but was quickly hooked by the discipline of psychology. . . .

She set up a project with “the intention to look at if the preference dogs have for their owners, in other studies, is toward humans in general or the owner specifically, compared to how they react in a situation with a stranger dog or another dog.”

Learn more about this story on Bethel’s website.

Seniors reflect on women’s tennis championship seasons

After four straight years of fitting a driving trip to Mobile, Ala., into the middle of spring semester final exams, the two seniors on Bethel’s women’s tennis team say it’s definitely been worth it.

Bethel women’s tennis made a fifth consecutive appearance at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics 2013 championship meet, representing the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Shayne Runnion, Phillipsburg, and Miranda Weaver, Hesston -- roommates and team co-captains this year -- have been playing for the Thresher women since they were freshmen.

“The neatest thing I saw,” says Weaver of this year’s national tournament bid, “was the change in goals for our team. Losing in the first round hurt more this year. We’ve set our standard higher -- we think we can compete.”

“It’s not enough just to show up,” adds Runnion. “That was the victory before -- just to get there. This time the sense that it was within reach to win the first round made it harder [to lose].”

The NAIA tournament is a team (rather than individual) championship. A team must win five of nine matches to advance.’

Read more about the Lady Thresher’s stellar season online.

Alumnus and colleague to debate Civil War

William Juhnke ’67, Lamoni, Iowa, professor emeritus of American history at Graceland University, will be featured in a Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum program at Kauffman Museum July 7 at 2 p.m. (note that the program will be held earlier than usual).

Tom Morain, Graceland’s director of government relations, will join Juhnke in a debate titled “Point/Counterpoint: Was the Civil War Necessary?” As the United States commemorates the 150th anniversary of the conflict that tore the nation apart, the two historians will ask hard questions about the inevitability of the conflict, the options available to leaders and why each side underestimated their opponents’ determination to fight.

Juhnke and Morain will invite the public into the debate as they explore the tense political climate of 1860-1861 and demonstrate how historians can disagree without being disagreeable.

For more information contact Rachel Pannabecker ’80 at the museum, rpann@bethelks.edu.

Give at the end of Bethel’s fiscal year

Bethel’s fiscal year ends June 30, and the college invites alumni and friends to contribute unrestricted donations of any amount by the end of the month.

Unrestricted gifts -- those not designated for a specific program or cause -- go to the Bethel College Fund, which provides necessary support for scholarships, student ministries, faculty development, campus landscaping, technology upgrades and much more. More than $1 million in donations is needed for Bethel’s annual budget each year.

Gifts to the fund also help Bethel respond to various unexpected needs and opportunities as they arise.

Donate today by going to http://www.bethelks.edu/gift. Or, mail a gift no later than June 30 to Development Office, Bethel College, 300 East 27th Street, North Newton, KS 67117. Thank you.

Volleyball reunion at Fall Fest

Planning continues for Bethel volleyball alumni plus friends of BC volleyball to “relive…renew…reconnect” with teammates, managers, coaches and loyal fans during this year’s Fall Festival. The event celebrates 40 exciting seasons of volleyball at the college.

The event is for all BC team members, managers and assistant coaches under the leadership of coaches Barb Graber (1973-1977), Diane Flickner (1978-1988), Liz Jarnigan (1989-1993), Bev Mayer ’88 (1994-2005) and Chad Schilling ’96 (2006-2012).

The major reunion event is planned for Saturday afternoon, Oct. 5. More information will follow as the plans are finalized.