Bethany President Discusses Achievements and Challenges in State of the College Address

BETHANY, W.Va. -- The 174th year of Bethany College will be filled with both challenge and promise, said President Dr. Scott D. Miller during his annual State of the College Address Aug. 20 to faculty and staff in Commencement Hall.

“Our strategic planning seeks to preserve and enhance thisSoC2013.jpg institution of achievement and distinction,” Miller said, citing several examples of excellence at Bethany.

Last year, Bethany was selected as a First Tier National Liberal Arts College, the only West Virginia institution to be included in the First Tier listings. U.S. News and World Report named Bethany one of the top ten colleges in the nation for the number of alumni who attend graduate school within a year of earning their baccalaureate degrees.  Also, the National Survey on Student Engagement named Bethany as a college with a high degree of student-faculty engagement that continues long after graduation. This is one of the hallmarks of a Bethany education, which is praised by alumni, Miller said.

To continue success, Miller said, strategic planning for sustainable growth is key in a volatile and highly competitive marketplace. Four goals drive that planning, Miller said:

  • “To achieve a five-year goal of selectively increasing to 1,100 total headcount, 925 full-time undergraduate students in residence,” he said. “Headcount enrollment last year was the highest in 30 years, while full-time enrollment was among the highest in the last 10 years.”
  • “To remain true to our liberal arts tradition while being responsive to new curriculum trends including synergistic partnerships, increased use of multi-media and technology in the classroom, globalization, and community service and service learning,” Miller said.
  • “To expand the financial resources of the College through increases in net tuition and fee revenues, auxiliary enterprises, and gifts and grants,” Miller said.  “We want to increase total revenues from all sources while demonstrating fiscal responsibility.”
  • “To embrace our reputation as a student-centered living and learning environment,” Miller said. This includes improving facilities and services to meet the needs of a changing student population.

Fundraising is key in these endeavors, and despite tough economic times nationwide, Miller said Bethany’s “Transformation Now!: The Campaign for Bethany College” has reached the $45 million mark in gifts and pledges. Launched during the 2008-09 academic year, the campaign is expected to reach the $52 million mark in its first phase, Miller said. Funds will be used for capital improvements, endowment and operations.

The overall goal, Miller said, is to raise $68 million by the 2019-20 academic year, which will fully fund “Bethany 2020,” the College’s master plan. So far, 3,211 donors have aided Bethany’s goal, with 38 percent of alumni contributing.

“During these most uncertain economic times, we are grateful to our alumni and friends who have remained generous and true to Bethany College,” Miller said. “I congratulate each of you for your part in this success.”

Highlighting other areas of progress, Miller noted:

  • The McCann Learning Center, which houses the PASS, Beth Bridge and tutoring programs, was recognized by the Washington, DC-based National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) as one of eight innovative programs nationally to assure student success.
  • The McCann Student Investment Fund, set up through a $1 million contribution from Dr. Robert McCann and his wife Cindy, serves as a student-operated endowment fund. Last year, students in this program had the opportunity to attend a closed-door, off-the-record briefing on world events with former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
  • Bethany’s Action Plan for Technology Improvement has greatly expanded the College’s technological reach. This was achieved through continued implementation of new options via the Independent College Enterprise, as well as continued collaboration with the Online Consortium of Independent Colleges and Universities. Also, throughout the summer, upgrades to the network infrastructure were made. 

 In other citations and announcements, President Miller:

  • Welcomed long-time Bethanians Jan Forsty as the new Chair of the Department of Physical Education and Sports Studies, along with Dr. Harald Menz as the new Director of Interdisciplinary Studies.
  • Welcomed new faculty: Dr. Kathleen M. Hill, Assistant Professor of Education; Dr. Zachary K. Marshall, Assistant Professor of Music & Director of the Bethany College Choir; Dr. Mark Petersen, Assistant Professor of Political Science; and Dr. James Yoo, Assistant Professor of Economics.
  • Congratulated Brian Rose, who previously was Bethany’s sports information director. He has been promoted to Director of Athletics and Recreation.
  • Congratulated Mollie Cecere, who is entering her first full year as Director of Enrollment Management.
  • Recognized employees for milestone years of service: Dr. Gary Kappel for 30 years; Jay Eisenhauer, Jan Forsty, Michael Harden and Lindsey Tredway for 25 years; Heather Ricciuti for 15 years;  Dr. Mark Affeltranger, Cathy Gordon and Dr. William Hicks for 10 years.

“I believe that the quality and reputation of a Bethany education, the commitment of our talented faculty and administrative staff, the attractiveness of our campus and facilities, and other strengths I have mentioned this morning will continue to recommend our College to some of America’s best and brightest,” Miller said.

“We do good work here,” Miller concluded. “We attain results of lasting significance, and we deserve the resources we are striving hard to secure for our future.”

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.