Bethany College Announces 2015 Alumni Award Recipients

BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College will present a series of awards recognizing outstanding alumni at the Alumni Awards Dinner on Saturday, May 2, in Commencement Hall. Sven de Jong will be recognized as Alumnus of the Year, and Dr. Elizabeth Flanagan, Doug Miller and Rev. Dr. Robert Perry will be presented with special honors as a part of Alumni Weekend activities on campus.

“Bethany maintains strong relationships with alumni across generations, many of whom have achieved great personal success and have positively impacted their communities,” said Dr. Scott D. Miller, President of Bethany College. “The alumni chosen for these awards have lived their lives as true Bethanians, and I’m looking forward to honoring their accomplishments.”

Sven de Jong, a 1995 Bethany College graduate and the College’s Senior Vice President, has been named Alumnus of the Year. He will be honored at the Alumni Weekend Awards Dinner in Commencement Hall at 5:30 p.m. on May 2.

As senior Vice President, de Jong oversees fundraising, enrollment, financial aid, alumni and parent relations, communications, church relations, and historic Bethany.

His major accomplishments include work on a five-year capital campaign that has surpassed $46.5 million gifts and pledges, as well as his assistance in initiating Bethany 2020, the College’s master plan, which has a goal of $68 million by the 2019-20 academic year.

He travels the country roughly 100 days of the year, meeting with alumni and friends and cultivating relationships on behalf of the College. He has facilitated various large gifts, such as a $4.5 million plan for technology upgrades, a $1 million student directed investment fund, and the establishment of an endowed professorship in mathematics. He has also assisted in recruiting several high-profile alumni who now serve on the College’s Board of Trustees and Alumni Council.

“In his ten years as an employee of Bethany College, Sven has had an unwavering commitment to his alma mater,” Miller said. “His dedication to the College and his service as Vice President made him an ideal candidate for this award.”

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Economics and German from Bethany, de Jong received a Master of Science degree in Non-profit Management from Eastern University.

Dr. Elizabeth Flanagan, a 1974 Bethany graduate, will receive the Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes Bethany alumni for achievements and contributions to their profession or field.

Flanagan is Vice President for Development and University Relations at Virginia Tech and Executive Vice President of the Virginia Tech Foundation Inc., where she has been leading its advancement efforts since 2000. She led the most ambitious campaign in Virginia Tech history, surpassing its $1 billion goal. Before joining Virginia Tech, Betsy was Assistant Vice President for Development and Director of Individual Major and Planned Gifts for the University of Virginia during its $1.4 billion capital campaign.  A former Vice President at SunTrust Bank in Richmond, Betsy managed its management training and organizational development programs.

After graduating magna cum laude from Bethany, she earned a master’s in social work/gerontology from West Virginia University, and her doctorate in higher education with minors in law and graduate business from the University of Virginia. She also holds the Certified Financial Planner designation and Advanced Studies certificates in Wealth Management.

Flanagan held continuous appointments as an adjunct faculty member in gerontology and adult education for 25 years including service at the University of Virginia, the University of Richmond, and the Medical College of Virginia. Her experience in business, higher education, and gerontology have led her to provide a wide range of consulting and training efforts that include management development, sales training, fund raising, retirement planning, and topics related to aging.  She is a recipient of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Crystal Apple Award for Teaching Excellence, and has published in the areas of retirement planning and financial exploitation of the elderly.

Doug Miller, a 1977 Bethany graduate, will receive the Distinguished Service to Alma Mater Award, the highest recognition award given to one recipient annually for alumni involvement, volunteer service and support to Bethany.

Miller was chosen for the award in recognition of his efforts during the re-colonization of fraternity Beta Theta Pi’s Psi chapter at Bethany. Miller became the interim president of the Psi Diamond Association, the Bethany College Beta alumni group, in 2005, and has served as president for the last ten years.

During that time, Miller has organized Homecoming events, solicited charitable funds to support Bethany College and scholarships for fraternity members, attended chapter meetings and mentored many Betas. His enthusiasm for Beta and Bethany has led to increased alumni involvement, and he has worked with current Betas to bring back traditions such as the Psi Stampede, which welcomes alumni back to campus.

After graduating from Bethany, Miller earned his MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. He has held various sales and management positions in his career, and he began his real estate career in 2012.

Rev. Dr. Robert Perry, a 1969 Bethany graduate, will receive the Community Service Award, given periodically to alumni who demonstrate significant leadership and service to their region or community.

Currently the Interim Regional Minister of the Christian Church Capital Area, Perry previously served as the Senior Minister of the Inter-Faith Chapel at Leisure World in Silver Spring for 14 years. Prior to the he served as the Senior Minister of North Chevy Chase Christian Church for over 18 years.

Perry has a long history of service to his community. He has been president and a board member of Bethesda Cares, an outreach program for the homeless and working poor in Montgomery County, Maryland, for 16 years. Perry has also served as chair for various organizations, such as the Bethesda Area Network Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse and the Community Liaison Committee to Overcome the Stigma of Mental Illness.

He is currently a member of the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as well as the Board of Disciples Center for Public Witness. He is a member of the Kiwanis Club Leisure World and recently served as the President of the Kiwanis Foundation Board as well as the Scholarship Committee chair.

The Alumni Awards Dinner will take place in Commencement Hall at 5:30 p.m. To view the full schedule of Alumni Weekend events, visit To register, call Ashley Kanotz, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations, at 304-829-7299.

The Alumnus of the Year Award was established by the Office of the President to recognize alumni who have demonstrated loyalty to the college and exceptional achievement throughout their lives, both professionally and in service to the community. Recipients are chosen by the president of the College.

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.