BETHANY, W.Va. — Bethany College will celebrate 170 years as a small college of national distinction with its annual Founder’s Day Thursday, March 4. Festivities will include a Convocation at 11 a.m. in historic Commencement Hall featuring guest speaker Dr. Walter M. Bortz III. Bortz served as the twenty-third president of Hampden-Sydney College and is a widely recognized leader in the field of higher education.
“I am delighted to announce that Dr. Walter Bortz, a highly respected national leader in education, will join the Bethany community in honoring the founding of our extraordinary College,” stated Bethany College President Dr. Scott D. Miller. “Dr. Bortz’s insight and long-time relationship with Bethany College will further illuminate the significance of a relationship with this historic institution and add a special vitality to our commemoration.”
Bortz, who served as president of Hampden-Sydney College from 2000-2009, received his undergraduate degree in biology from Bethany College in 1967. He later served as a Bethany College Trustee. He has held administrative positions at Bethany, Texas Christian University and East Carolina University. He became vice president for institutional advancement at the University of Hartford in 1985. There, he later served as acting vice president for student services and executive director of admissions and student financial assistance. The George Washington University named him vice president for administrative and information services in 1989.
Bortz has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia, a trustee of the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges, Presidential Representative for the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Executive Committee, and a member of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities. He has also been active in the Council of Independent Colleges.
Bortz earned his doctorate in policy studies from The George Washington University, and Bethany College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2000. Shortly before his retirement in 2009, the Hampden-Sydney College Board of Trustees announced the naming of its library in honor of Bortz. Hampden-Sydney flourished under Bortz’s leadership, undergoing significant renovation and expansion.
Miller will preside over the March 4 Convocation, which will also include the installation of the new Student Government Association President and Vice President.
A wreath-laying ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. at the Campbell Cemetery. The wreath will be placed at the gravesite of Alexander Campbell (1788-1866), Bethany College’s founder and first president. Guests are invited to visit the Campbell Mansion, one of Bethany’s National Historic Landmarks, following the ceremony.
Founder’s Day at Bethany College is observed on the first Thursday of March. The College received its official charter from the Legislature of Virginia on March 2, 1840. The charter was affirmed on June 20, 1863 by the Legislature of the newly formed state of West Virginia.
Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Bethany is the state’s oldest degree-granting institution.