BETHANY, W.Va. — Bethany College will celebrate 172 years as a small college of national distinction with its annual Founder’s Day Thursday, March 1. Festivities will include the traditional Founder’s Day Convocation at 11 a.m. in historic Commencement Hall featuring guest speaker Dr. D. Duane Cummins. A former president of Bethany College, Cummins serves as a visiting scholar in history at Johns Hopkins University, teaching advanced courses in history to graduate students since his retirement as President of Bethany College in 2002.
“We look forward to celebrating the founding of Bethany College with Dr. Cummins, who has embodied the foundation of service and academic excellence upon which Bethany stands,” stated Bethany President Scott D. Miller. “Duane maintains a close relationship with Bethany and its core principles and is a genuine example of the values at the very heart of the College’s mission.”
A native of Nebraska, Cummins earned the B.A. degree from Phillips University, where he was president of the student body, a member of Blue Key and Who's Who Among Students in Colleges and Universities, later serving as president of the Alumni Association. He earned his M.A. from the University of Denver and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. He was awarded the LL.D. from William Woods College, the H.H.D. from Phillips University, and a Litt.D. from Chapman University.
Cummins served as President of Bethany College from 1988 – 2002. In addition to the Bethany presidency, he served as Chairman of the Presidents' Athletic Conference, as President of the West Virginia Association for Independent Colleges and Chair of the East Central College Consortia. In 1993, he completed his term as a member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities' Commission on Policy Analysis. Cummins has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Independent Colleges; the Board of Directors of WesBanco Bank in Wheeling, W.Va., the Pittsburgh Opera Board of Directors; and previously served from 1978 to 1988 as a member of the Board of Trustees of Tougaloo College and of Culver-Stockton College.
He has served as a member of the Phillips Graduate Seminary Board of Trustees and chair of the Board of Trustees of National City Christian Church Foundation. After retiring from Bethany College in 2002 he served a one-year interim presidency at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. The following year he was Interim president of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society.
Cummins is the author of 15 books and numerous articles. Recent lectureships have included the 2007 Abilene Christian University Church History Lectures; the 2005 Watkins lecture in Washington D.C., the 2004 Boder Lectureship; the 1998 Prix de West Lecture; the 1998 Forrest H. Kirkpatrick Lectureship; the 1996 E. C. Anderson Lectures; the 1996 Lee Thompson Lectures; and several book reviews. His most recent publication was the bicentennial history of Disciples, “The Disciples: A Struggle for Reformation,” released in July 2009 by Chalice Press. He is currently researching and writing the 175th anniversary history of Bethany College.
Cummins began his educational career in 1957 in Denver, Colo., where he chaired a senior high school history department of 11 people. Beginning in 1967, he spent 10 years at Oklahoma City University, where he was appointed Darbeth-Whitten Professor of American History, Chairman of the Department of History, Curator of the George H. Shirk Oklahoma History Collection, Director of the Robert A. Taft Institute of Government and Director of the Division of Continuing Education.
Cummins has been widely recognized for his churchmanship, including the Alexander Campbell Award presented by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1991. From 1993 to 1995, he served a two-year term as Moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. He has headed numerous committees, boards and task forces of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and served from 1978 to 1988 as president of the Division of Higher Education of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). While at the Division, he authored “A Handbook for Today's Disciples,” and “The Disciples Colleges: A History.” Cummins’ biographical citation appears in “Who’s Who in America,” “Who’s Who in Education,” “Who’s Who in the World,” “Dictionary of American Scholars” and “Contemporary Authors.”
Miller will preside over the March 1 Convocation. 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 campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.