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Bethel on three national lists for 2011-12

Fall is ranking season for national publications in the United States and Bethel College is on three lists.

In the longest running of these, the annual ranking of top colleges and universities by staff of “U.S. News & World Report,” Bethel moved from the National Liberal Arts Colleges category to Regional Colleges, where it appears among the Top 20 institutions in the Midwest list, at No. 17….

For the last several years, Forbes.com has annually ranked 650 colleges and universities nationwide, based on economic factors such as career prospects, quality of teaching, graduation rates and debt levels. Bethel is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas to make the 2012 Forbes.com list….

Bethel appears for the first time in the "Washington Monthly" annual college guide, which it has been publishing since 2005….

General education curriculum now stands on "Common Ground"

The view out the window on the ride from the airport to downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, changed Danica Cox’s life. Carrie Schulz realized the value of collaboration when she and another student helped each other find what they needed for individual research projects. Austin Smith and Caleb Regehr discovered that respectful dialogue might not change minds but it certainly opens them.

What the experiences of these three Bethel students and one 2011 graduate had in common was that all were part of fulfilling Bethel general education requirements. Starting with the 2011-12 school year, six specific aspects have been gathered under the name Common Ground.

Bethel boasts high rate of graduation in four years

As colleges and universities across Kansas and nationwide look at ways to improve graduation rates, Bethel is ahead of the wave.

Eleven years ago, starting with the 2000–01 school year, the college instituted its “4-year Graduation Guarantee,” aimed at students who come to college with firm career goals. Bethel is currently one of only about a dozen colleges or universities in the country with such a guarantee.…

Over the past 10 years, 78 percent of Bethel graduates completed their degrees in four years, well above the 49 percent national average for public colleges. Bethel’s overall high graduation rate — 11 percent over the rate predicted in the “U.S. News & World Report” Best Colleges rankings for 2010–11 — put Bethel in the top 12 nationally of liberal arts colleges whose graduation rates surpass predictions, according to the April 2011 edition of the “Postsecondary Education Opportunity,” a research letter.

New fittings spruce up symbolic stone

With the recent aesthetic improvements to the plaza in front of the Administration Building, it wouldn’t do to have a “naked” threshing stone sitting there.

Used briefly for threshing wheat in the Great Plains (mostly Kansas) in the late 1870s and early 1880s, the stone has become Bethel’s primary visual symbol and the mascot for the athletic teams, which are called Threshers.

In the past year, the Ad Building plaza has been resurfaced and had new landscaping. Nathan Bartel, assistant professor of literary studies, who has an office on the building’s second floor, noticed that “the stone looked naked, not as good as it could, especially with the increased and renewed vision for campus presentation.”

He made that observation to his grandfather, John Gaeddert of North Newton — and not idly, since Gaeddert is known for his wood sculptures, especially those that emerge from “found” pieces such as fence posts and old scrap wood….

Since Gaeddert loves to use hedgewood (Osage orange) in his sculpture, he decided on that for the new yoke….

The finishing touch to the Ad Building stone is a plaque now in production. It will bear these words: “A STUDENT IS A SEED — Just as this threshing stone helped the Mennonite pioneers free life-giving kernels of wheat from their dry outer husks, so Bethel College commits itself to help students discover their own goodness, that they might grow in intellect, character and spirit, becoming their best selves.”

Bethel named Champions of Character Five Star Institution for second year

Bethel has earned the Champions of Character Five Star Institution Award from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for 2010–11.

This was the second straight year Bethel received the honor, along with 219 other colleges and universities and 23 athletic conferences.

“Achieving this designation two years in a row is a wonderful honor and a tribute to the quality of students who attend Bethel College,” said Athletic Director Kent Allshouse.

The NAIA launched the Champions of Character Scorecard in 2009 in order to convert NAIA vision and strategy into measurable goals and to monitor progress towards advancing character-driven intercollegiate athletics.

Worship and the Arts Symposium to take place Nov. 19

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 on campus Saturday, Nov. 19.

“Think, Celebrate, Sing” 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 plenary and concurrent sessions with the resource people, a “meet the artist” event, and an evening hymn festival born out of the day’s collaborative work. The 7:30 p.m. service in Memorial Hall will be free and open to the public.

Mmmm, Christmas! BCWA and Kauffman Museum plan annual event

The Bethel College Women’s Association and Kauffman Museum will again be featured as two of “Six Places of Christmas” in the area 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. The open house also includes Carriage Factory Gallery, Harvey County Historical Museum and Warkentin House, plus the Kansas Sports Museum as the newest partner for this event, which began in 2003.

Goerz House

BCWA will host a bake sale of homemade goodies at Goerz House, featuring traditional zwiebach, peppernuts, cookies, cinnamon rolls and delicious desserts.

New this year is a special gift shop, offering the auxiliary’s latest signature item that celebrates Bethel’s 125th anniversary — a limited-edition picnic basket with a drawing of the Administration Building on the wooden lid. The finely crafted baskets have both practical and sentimental appeal and would make a perfect Christmas gift.

Other specialty gift items include Bethel kitchen towels, T–shirts, ornaments and candle houses.

Kauffman Museum

Every year, friends of Kauffman Museum use prairie grasses to decorate a cedar tree cut from a pasture. This year the museum will extend the theme of “celebrate a green Christmas” by demonstrating decorating and gift–making ideas that recycle or use natural materials.

Visitors will be able to “upcycle” old books and create tea light luminarias with dried prairie grasses. Everyone will be invited to make a gift bag from an out-of-date map. Staff from Et Cetera Shop in Newton will help children recycle old sweaters and notions in a “critter craft” project.

For more information, contact Rachel Pannabecker at Kauffman Museum.

Celebrate Bethel’s 125th anniversary at Fall Fest 2012

Mark your calendar now for Fall Festival 2012, when Bethel will celebrate its 125th anniversary. The Fall Fest fair on campus will be Saturday, Oct. 13. Taste of Newton will take place Thursday evening, Oct. 11.

The college will dedicate its new Academic Center on Saturday, Oct. 13. The classes of 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997 and 2002 will hold reunions that day. Additional activities will round out the extended Fall Fest weekend.

Next year’s Fall Fest again takes place on the second Saturday of the October. The date is determined by the first home football game in October (or last home game in September, if necessary), as scheduled by the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference

On May 11, 1887, 33 individuals — 30 from Mennonite churches in the area and three prominent Newton businessmen who were not Mennonite — met to sign the charter for the college. The document was filed with the Kansas secretary of state on May 23, 1887, the official date of incorporation, as noted on the college’s seal.

‘Thresher E-view’ 10 years old

Ten years ago this month, Bethel’s Office of Alumni Relations sent out the first issue of “Thresher E-View,” an electronic newsletter for alumni and friends of the college. Its purpose, as stated in the first issue, was to “keep alumni and friends of the college up to date with brief news reports and other information.”

The November 2001 issue announced that E. LaVerne Epp had been named Bethel’s 12th president, enrollment was at 525, the college was the only Kansas liberal arts college named top tier by “U.S. News and World Report” and alumni could look up friends‘ address information on a new online directory.

Since then, 133 monthly editions and three special supplements have gone to thousands of alumni around the world. The number of subscriber addresses has risen steadily — from approximately 1,500 in November of that year to more than 4,500 this November.

The name “Thresher E–View” is a play on the words “Thresher,” “review” and “email,” the latter short for “electronic mail,” the method by which the newsletter is distributed