BETHANY, W.Va. — Bethany College marked the start of the 2011-2012 academic year with a formal Matriculation Convocation on August 20. Dr. Scott D. Miller, President of the College, was joined by faculty and staff in the ceremony that made Bethany’s total enrollment of 1,020 the largest since 1976-77.
Miller noted that the current student population is reported to be the most diverse in the College’s history and includes a much wider geographical representation than in past years. The academic profile of the incoming class is the strongest in 11 years, and the total of new students in each of the past three years represents the largest classes since the mid-1970s.
“In remarks following Father’s Day last year, President Obama told a gathering that to become a parent ‘is to watch your heart continually walking around outside your body.’ As a father of two daughters myself, I value those sentiments,” Miller stated in his welcome address.
“And as a college president, I often feel that way about our students with whom I am privileged to spend at least four years. It is inspiring to watch young men and women grow, evolve and mature as they complete the process of adolescence to young adulthood on our campus.”
He continued, “You’ll discover numerous opportunities to hone your leadership skills and to excel in intercollegiate athletics and campus-based activities on this residential campus, and I urge you to plunge right in. Never again will you have such an unparalleled environment in which to expand your horizons, take calculated risks and find new passions.”
Saturday’s ceremony began with the incoming students marching in a processional through the Oglebay Gates up the hill to the College’s historic Commencement Hall.
President Miller and Gabriela Nuñez, President of the Student Government Association, officially welcomed the students. Dr. Darin Fields, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, presented the formal charge to the faculty to honor its commitment to the entering class. Gerald Stebbins, Dean of Students, presented the formal charge to the students to honor their commitment to education.
The Convocation concluded with a time-honored ritual as each new student signed the Bethany College Book of Matriculation — a tradition that dates back to the late 1800s. While the original book was destroyed in a fire, the custom continues to be followed more than 170 years after Alexander Campbell founded the College.
During his welcome, Miller noted the exceptional achievements of members of the College’s newest class. The Class of 2015 includes students from California to Vermont and from countries such as Ghana, Germany and the United Kingdom. Eight Kalon Scholarship recipients were welcomed as new Bethanians, as well as scholar-athletes and many individuals with strong backgrounds in the fine and performing arts.
Miller concluded with a challenge to incoming students, saying, “In your four years here, try something new, stretch beyond your comfort zone, reach out to others — and, above all, enjoy the journey!”
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. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.