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Bethel in top five of national college ranking

Bethel has vaulted to the top of a national ranking, sitting at No. 4 in the Washington Monthly list of Best Baccalaureate Colleges 2012-13.

Washington Monthly groups institutions into four areas as defined by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, including baccalaureate colleges, which according to Carnegie comprise schools that focus on undergraduate education but offer fewer than half of their degrees in the liberal arts.

Washington Monthly rankings are based on contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students); research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs); and service (encouraging students to give something back to their community and country).

Washington Monthly contrasts its annual rankings with the longer-running U.S. News & World Report rankings, whose key measures include, among others, peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving -- what Washington Monthly calls fame, exclusivity and money.

Bethel appeared in the publication’s rankings for the first time last year, in the Best Liberal Arts Colleges category at No. 110 out of 249. This year Bethel was fourth out of 352, behind Elizabeth City (N.C.) State University, Wheeling (W.Va.) Jesuit University and Tuskegee (Ala.) University.

In addition, for the fifth year in a row, Bethel is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas and one of only four institutions of higher learning in the state to be ranked in Forbes.com’s analysis of top U.S. colleges and universities.

Bethel made the Forbes.com annual ranking of the nation’s 650 best colleges, released Aug. 15, along with the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Wichita State University.

For complete news stories, go here and here.

Golf team earns academic national championship

Not all championships are won on the field, court or course, as the Bethel golf team proved.

The Golf Coaches Association of America informed Bethel coach Gregg Dick Aug. 1 that his 2011-12 team had been named academic national champion of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

To be considered for the honor, a team must submit a GPA of 3.0 or higher (the average of the GPAs for each player on its official squad list for the academic year). The GCAA names national champions in six divisions -- NCAA Divisions I, II and III; NJCAA DI and NJCAA DII; and NAIA.

Bethel earned GCAA honors for the first time last year, appearing on the President’s Special Recognition list for teams from four-year colleges or universities with GPAs of 3.5 or higher. This year, Bethel is the only school from either the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference or the region to be named to that list (Dodge City Community College is the academic national champion for NJCAA DI).

Members of Bethel’s 2011-12 golf team were graduating seniors Jordan Esau, Hutchinson, Kellen Goertzen, Henderson, Neb., Eric Regier, Haysville, John Reimer, Hesston, Trey Ronnebaum, Wichita, and Cameron Voth, Goessel, along with senior Abram Rodenberg and sophomores Garrison Gundy and Ethan Rodenberg, all of Halstead.

For more of this story, go here.

Local mural pictured on national website

In 2010, Bethel College, the City of Newton and the Carriage Factory Gallery in Newton collaborated on a community art project -- a mural in downtown Newton that approximately 200 local residents helped to create. Now a picture of that mural is on a national website.

The 2010 endeavor was part of the Mid-America Murals Project and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and Mid-America Arts Alliance. Now, as MAAA supports a new mural project in Arkansas, National Public Radio pictures Newton’s mural with a brief story.

Rachel Epp Buller ’96, Bethel professor of art, and Barbara Burns, coordinator of community advancement for the city, submitted the grant proposal to the Kansas Community Mural Project. Joe Loganbill ’80, director of the Carriage Factory at the time, joined them to coordinate implementation. Of 10 Kansas cities and towns competing for funding, only Newton was awarded money for a mural project.

For an October 2010 story about the project, go here.

Gospel Choir rehearsal set for Sept. 8

Fall Festival Gospel Choir reunion concert planners Roz Royster McCommon ’93, Tonganoxie, and Greg Hinex ’97, Kansas City, invite alumni, friends of the college and current students to a rehearsal from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 8, in the chapel of the Administration Building on campus.

Those who can’t make it to the rehearsal but would like to sing in the performance may listen to the songs on Facebook (search for "Bethel College Gospel Choir Reunion") and attend a run-through in Memorial Hall 7-10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12.

McCommon and Hinex are providing leadership for the performance, scheduled for 2 p.m. in Memorial Hall on Saturday, Oct. 13. Everyone planning to sing is asked to contact them either by e-mailing or calling the alumni office at 316-284-5252.

The public is invited to the performance. There will be no admission fee, but an offering will be taken to defray expenses and support the African-American Alumni Association Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Schultz to help rededicate Bethel facility named for him

Bethel welcomed students back to campus in August with major improvements to a central facility -- Schultz Student Center (SSC).

SSC houses the cafeteria, bookstore, Mojo’s coffee shop and two conference rooms. It was named for one of Bethel’s longest-serving presidents, Harold J. Schultz (1971-91). Schultz will be the convocation speaker Friday, Sept. 14, the same day the student center -- completed in 1979 -- will be rededicated.

For that Sept. 14 convo, current Bethel President Perry D. White asked Schultz to reflect on his time at Bethel and the challenges and joys that might help us learn more about our history or traditions, and help us connect to those who came before.

Then Schultz will help the campus community officially recognize the work that’s been done over the summer to make SSC a significantly upgraded facility.

Perhaps of most interest to students: redesign of the cafeteria, everything from carpeting to chairs to dish return to menus.

Linda Srader, senior from Newton, likes the new setup. The main serving line is more open, with food choices posted over it on a digital board, so you can stand back and read it and make your choices instead of being stuck in the line.

Miriam Weaverdyck, senior from Ann Arbor, Mich., also likes being able to easily see what the food options are, while Clarie Koehn, junior from Cottonwood Falls, brought nods of agreement when she expressed appreciation for the expanded salad bar.

Elsewhere in the building, there’s new carpet, lighting, signage and furniture and a somewhat rearranged floor plan. What used to be the lobby has been turned into the First Bank Conference Room, thanks to a generous gift from First Bank of Newton.

The lobby area, complete with brand-new furniture, is closer to the cafeteria in the spot where students used to pile their backpacks before going inside for a meal -- so new shelves next to the cafeteria doors can now accommodate those backpacks.

The Bethel College Women’s Association is the sponsor of a new Alumni Spotlight wall -- a rotating display highlighting the accomplishments of Bethel alumni. The first five to be featured are Rachel Kasper Fitzsimons ’88, Astoria, N.Y., Broadway actress (who uses the stage name Rachel de Benedet); G. John Dick ’61, Claremont Calif., NASA scientist; Toshihiro Fukudome ’72, Tokyo, international businessman; Daniel Hege ’87, Jamesville, N.Y., conductor of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra; and Rick McNary ’95, Potwin, pastor and founder of the anti-hunger charity Numana Inc.

The opposite wall illustrates Bethel’s history and values through photos emphasizing six areas: the Administration Building, scholarship, spiritual life, relationships, pranks and commencement.

Sondra Bandy Koontz, vice president for development, said that numerous donors contributed in varied ways to make Schultz Student Center more comfortable and welcoming -- especially for students but for the whole Bethel community as well.

Corporation meeting and board election Sept. 28

The annual Bethel College Corporation meeting is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in Schultz Student Center. Corporation business includes a state of the college report and the election of a corporation representative to the Board of Directors.

All those who have given $100 or more to Bethel during their lifetime are eligible to vote in the corporation election. Voters must be present at the meeting or cast a proxy ballot in writing by letter (Advancement Office, Bethel College, 300 E. 27th St., North Newton, KS 67117) or e-mail (clbeth@bethelks.edu) by Wednesday, Sept. 26.

Leticia Palacioz Nielsen ’83, Wichita, will be recommended for a second six-year term on the board. Nielsen graduated from Bethel with a degree in economics and business Administration. She earned a master’s degree in education administration from Emporia State University.

Nielsen has served as president of Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Wichita since 2004. Previously she served the school as principal, assistant principal and as instructor in business. Nielsen has implemented strategic plans and successfully carried out capital campaigns for the school.

She is a member of Christ the King Catholic Church, where she has served as parish council member, Sunday School teacher and lector. A member of various professional organizations, Nielsen has also served on Bethel’s Alumni Council. The college honored her with the Young Alumnus Award in 2000.

Nielsen is married to Ran Nielsen, a biology instructor at Bishop Carroll. They have a daughter and a son.

Upcoming events at Kauffman Museum

The Kauffman Museum Association will hold its annual membership meeting at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9. The program will feature Glen Ediger ’75, North Newton, board president and threshing stone researcher, who will offer a sneak preview of the upcoming exhibition Threshing Stone: Mennonite Artifact and Icon.

The business meeting will include a review of the financial report, recognition of retiring board members Jim Juhnke ’62, Wichita, and Lois Friesen ’67, Towanda, and introduction of incoming board members Raylene Hinz-Penner ’70, Topeka, and Richard Walker ’70, Newton.

Museum staff are also making a last call for artifacts for Threshing Stone: Mennonite Artifact and Icon to display Oct. 6 through Jan. 20, 2013. They still need more Thresher Awards and selected yearbooks.

So far only one award recipient has loaned their threshing stone "trophy." More are needed to fill a shelf that represents a wide range of Bethel majors over the years. Staff also need the 1943 Graymaroon and the 1966, 1967, 1968 and 2001 Thresher yearbooks. Those able to loan items should contact Rachel Pannabecker ’80.

Looking ahead, save Friday evening, Nov. 2, for the museum’s annual fundraising event, the Living Endowment Dinner. Guest speaker will be Steve Friesen ’75, Littleton, Colo., director of the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave near Denver and author of Buffalo Bill: Scout, Showman, Visionary (Fulcrum Publishing, 2010). Friesen will speak on I love to tell the story: The sacred role of the secular museum. For more information contact Pannabecker.

Play golf for Bethel Sept. 22

Alumni and friends of Bethel are invited to the 21st annual Fall Thresher Golf Classic Saturday, Sept. 22, at Sand Creek Station Golf Course, Newton.

For a brochure, contact the alumni office at 316-284-5251 or alumni@bethelks.edu, or print one. Players who register by Sept. 10 receive a discount.

History book available Oct. 8

Alumni and friends of Bethel will soon be able to read about the college in a new, 300-page history by Keith Sprunger titled Bethel College of Kansas 1887-2012. The book covers the story of Bethel from its beginnings in 1887 to the present time. Robert W. Regier ’52, professor emeritus of art, designed the cover and a color insert.

Bethel College of Kansas 1887-2012 will be released Monday, Oct. 8, in the college bookstore and to those who place mail orders using the form on page 22 of the July issue of the alumni magazine, Context. The history will cost $39.95 (plus tax, shipping and handling). Mail orders may be submitted in advance but the book will not ship until Oct. 8.

Sprunger, who is Oswald H. Wedel professor emeritus of history, received the Julius A. and Agatha Dyck Franz Community Service Award last spring. The award is given periodically to a faculty member judged to have made an especially important contribution to the college community beyond the normal expectations. Sprunger served Bethel for nearly 40 years in the Department of History and spent nearly five years researching, conducting interviews, compiling photos, and writing and editing the new history.