Playwright, veteran actors part of Bethel production of ‘Wit’

A chance to get a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright on campus was one Megan Upton-Tyner could not let go by.

As she rounds out her first year as instructor of theater at Bethel, Upton-Tyner is directing a production of “Wit” by Margaret Edson, which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for drama and was later made into a 2001 HBO movie starring Emma Thompson.

The play will be on the Krehbiel Auditorium stage in the Fine Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 5, and Friday, May 6, and at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7.

Margaret Edson will be part of discussion sessions after the May 6 performance and before the May 7 one and will speak in convocation at Bethel May 6 at 11 a.m., also in Krehbiel Auditorium.

Upton-Tyner took Edson up on a declaration in February 2010 that she would travel to see Annette Thornton play Vivian Bearing, the lead role in “Wit,” in a fully staged production.

In February 2010, Bethel graduate Joy Goldsmith, associate professor of communication at Young Harris (Ga.) College, organized a symposium at YHC on the performance of palliative care that included a staged reading of “Wit,” with Edson, who is from Atlanta, present. Goldsmith had asked her former Bethel professors, John McCabe-Juhnke, professor of communication arts, and Thornton to read the roles of Dr. Harvey Kelekian and Vivian Bearing.

“Joy told me later that Maggie Edson was very enamored of Annette’s reading,” says McCabe-Juhnke. “She said she’d like to see a fully staged production with Annette in the role and that she would come for it.”

“Wit” follows the last hours of a single, middle-aged academic and Donne scholar as she is dying of ovarian cancer after undergoing an experimental and aggressive regime of chemotherapy.

Students expand research horizons through conferences

Bethel’s emphasis on undergraduate research can lead students in many directions, some of them geographical -- this spring to New York, Colorado and Georgia.

Sophomores Amber Anderson, McPherson, and Miriam Weaverdyck, Ann Arbor, Mich., presented a poster at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research or NCUR, held this year at Ithaca (N.Y.) College, March 31-April 2.

The students’ poster explained research they had done using GEMS, a new method of measuring emotions elicited by music, to provide a more detailed validation for the music search engine Armonique… .

Several other Bethel students traveled with Professor of Psychology Paul Lewis to the 13th International Congress on Schizophrenia Research, held April 2-6 in Colorado Springs.

Lewis and psychology majors Cassidy McFadden, junior from Elgin, Ill., and seniors Tim Burns, McAlester, Okla., and Sierra Pryce, Newton, were lead author or co-author of several posters presented at the conference… .

A third opportunity this spring was the annual Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectography, which is now called simply Pittcon and moves around the country. Bethel students are able to attend every other year thanks to a special fund set up by Bethel alumni Janet and Orvin Voth of Newton… .

This year’s Pittcon – “the world’s largest annual conference and exposition for laboratory science” – was March 13-18 in Atlanta. Gary Histand, professor of chemistry, took seven Bethel students: juniors Trent Baalman, Wichita, John Goering, Valley Center, Trey Ronnebaum, Wichita, and Carrie Schulz, Newton, and sophomores Chris Riesen, Beatrice, Neb., Aaron Rudeen, Osage City, and Ben Suchsland, Agra.

Prize-winning paper examines 1972 controversy

A Bethel student’s prize-winning paper sheds some light on conflict and reconciliation in the face of Mennonites’ growing global diversity.

“Fragile Bonds and Global Fellowship: The Ninth Mennonite World Conference in Curitiba, Brazil, 1972,” a paper by Meredith Lehman, senior from Bluffton, Ohio, became the 23rd by a Bethel student to win a statewide contest sponsored by the Kansas Association of Historians… .

KAH (formerly the Kansas History Teachers Association) has sponsored a competition since 1971 for papers at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Twenty-two Bethel students (one won in two different years) have been first-place finishers in the former category. Miriam Friesen was the last Bethel winner, in 2009.

Campaign a success, watch Academic Center Progress online

Thanks to more than 1,000 loyal donors and the Mabee and Sunderland Foundations, Bethel’s “Expand the Vision” campaign was successfully completed and transformation of the old Science Hall into a new Academic Center began in April.

“We are grateful to all donors for the many ways they are supporting Bethel College students,” stated Sondra Bandy Koontz, vice president for advancement. “A successful campaign is a cause for celebration.”

In addition to the Academic Center, the campaign also allowed Bethel to add $2.5 million to endowment, add 59 members to the Heritage Roll of Honor, and identify $9 million in deferred estate gifts as well as initiate new steps to pursue deferred gifts.

More Bethel collectibles available

As creation of the new Academic Center gets under way, more scientific collectibles from the old Science Hall are for sale. The Bethel College Women’s Association began selling the items in April, with all proceeds going to the college.

To purchase one or more of the special souvenirs pictured online, e-mail Dalene White and she will respond regarding your request. Sales and shipping costs are noted on the website, all items are being sold “as is,” and availability is on a first-come-first-served basis.

BCWA has a display in Thresher Bookstore of additional items – including bottles, beakers, small scales, test tubes, microscopes, slides and evaporation dishes – that may be taken home for a donation. Read a news article about the BCWA project.

The bookstore is still offering limited-edition brass replicas of the threshing stone, as well. Each is approximately 3 inches long by 1 1/2 inches high, mounted on a piece of native limestone from the Administration Building, cut from two bottom steps that needed to be replaced in 2009.

So far, 74 of the 125 threshing stone souvenirs have sold. The price is $100. Piece #125 will be auctioned off at Fall Festival 2012, when the college celebrates its 125th anniversary.

New alumni council members to be affirmed at banquet

The following alumni have agreed to serve on the Bethel College Alumni Association Council from 2011-2014. Their selection is to be affirmed at the association’s brief business meeting during the Alumni Banquet in May.

  • Felice (Voth) Goering ’59, Moundridge (second term)
  • Monty Graber ’01, North Newton
  • Kurtzs Holbert ’07, Wichita
  • Bridget Kratzer ’09, Newton
  • Christian Loganbill ’10, North Newton
  • Kevin Neufeld ’94, North Newton (second term)
  • Morrie Scheffler ’97, Valley Center (second term)

Members serve three-year terms. See more information, including the names of current and continuing members. If interested in joining, contact Dave Linscheid, director of alumni relations, 316-284-5252, e-mail.

The Alumni Banquet is Saturday, May 21, at 6 p.m. in Memorial Hall. It will honor reunion classes, the graduating class of 2011 and recipients of this year’s alumni awards: Verda (Epp) Deckert ’64/’65, Newton; John M. Janzen ’61 and Reinhild (Kauenhoven) Janzen ’63, Newton; and Laurel Preheim ’69, Omaha, Neb. The program will include music by the Bethel College women’s vocal ensemble Woven.

The discount price for the meal is $18.50 per person if paying by May 6, $20 May 9-11. To make a reservation, visit or phone Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center at 316-284-5205. Payment or credit card information is required when the reservation is made.

Kauffman museum tour heads to Northwest Kansas

Kauffman Museum invites Bethel alumni and friends to travel to northwest Kansas June 7-9 on a tour sponsored by the museum.

Stops will include Cottonwood Ranch State Historic Site, Studley; Arikaree Breaks, a ravine- and gully-filled landform along the northern border of Kansas; the National Weather Service Office, Goodland; the Prairie Museum of Art and History, Colby; and Nicodemus National Historic Site, where a direct descendant of one of the original African-American settlers will give the tour.

Costs for travel, admission, lodging, meals and gratuities are included in the comprehensive tour price: $399 for museum members, $429 for non-members.

For more information or to register, contact Andi Schmidt Andres at Kauffman Museum via e-mail or at 316-283-1612.

Summer filled with camp opportunities

Bethel will again offer camps for students of all ages and interests this summer, including the following:

  • sports camps May 31-July 22
  • various Uncle Carl’s Camps at Kauffman Museum June 6-July 8
  • Summer Science Institute, June 5-10
  • Summer Music Camp, June 12-18
  • Broadway at Bethel, June 19-26
  • Bethel College/Jostens Publications Workshop, Aug. 1-4

Alumni and friends invited to Pittsburgh pirates game in July

Bethel alumni and friends in the Pittsburgh, Pa., area plus those attending the Mennonite Church USA convention there this summer are invited to join Bethel President (and avid baseball fan) Perry White and Dalene White for a fun night out at a Pittsburgh Pirates game Wednesday, July 6. Todd Moore, vice president for admissions, Lori Livengood, vice president for marketing and communications, and Dave Linscheid, director of alumni relations, will be there, too.

The alumni office has reserved a block of seats in the “all you can eat” section for the 7:05 p.m. game against the Houston Astros. The $35 ticket gives access to a special concession stand (only four food items per trip, however). The seats, located in PNC Park section #146, overlook right field.

Paid ticket reservations may be made beginning Monday, May 16, by visiting or calling Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center, 316-284-5205. Payment or credit card information is required when the reservation is made. The pre-paid tickets may be picked up at the Bethel booth in the Mennonite Education Area at the convention, or will be mailed upon request two weeks prior to the game.

Those attending the MC USA Assembly are also invited to a gathering for Bethel alumni and friends Tuesday, July 5, 9-10:30 p.m. at the convention center (exact location yet to be announced).

Save the date for Worship and the Arts Symposium

Two renowned scholars and practitioners of the arts in Christian worship will be the major resources for Bethel’s first Worship and the Arts Symposium.

“Think, Celebrate, Sing” will take place Saturday, Nov. 19, and will be centered on the Psalms. Thomas G. Long, a professor of preaching at Emory University, and John Ferguson, a professor of organ and church music and cantor to the student congregation at St. Olaf College, will provide primary input.

The symposium will include concurrent and plenary sessions with the resource people, an orchestra and choir in which symposium participants can join and an evening hymn festival that will be open to the public.