Bethany College Brings Alumni Together in California
BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany alumni from San Diego to San Francisco visited with the College’s president and senior vice president during the annual California Alumni Caravan this week.
Dr. Scott D. Miller, President of the College, and Sven de Jong, Senior Vice President, were guests at events hosted by alumni in Los Angeles and San Francisco while also visiting with some of the other nearly 400 alumni and friends residing in California. The Los Angeles area event was hosted by Jhamal Robinson ’98 and his partner Steven Velkei at their home in Hollywood Hills. Diane (Dranikoski) Bode ’96 hosted the San Francisco alumni event at Delancey Street Restaurant.
During the tour, Dr. Miller was also the speaker/panelist at The Registry for College and University Presidents annual meeting in San Diego. Dr. Miller, along with George Matthews, Chancellor of TRCUP, Bryan Carlson, President of TRCUP, and Jessica Kozloff, President of Academic Search, Inc., discussed “Personnel Solutions for the Academy – Talent and More Talent.” Bethany’s President is also Chair of the Board of Directors of Academic Search.
“I always look forward to the California Alumni Caravan,” Bethany College President Scott D. Miller said. “Bethanians love their College. As I travel the country visiting with alumni and friends, I am impressed by the passion that our graduates have for their alma mater. Bethany College is – without a doubt – a lifetime experience.”
He said the various off-campus gatherings the College holds throughout the country enable interactions with large numbers of Bethanians who live far from campus. Events held in the recent past include those in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, Tennessee and many more.
“Over 3,200 individuals and organizations – including 38 percent of our alumni -- have contributed over $48 million to the largest fundraising initiative in Bethany history,” Dr. Miller said to alumni in attendance at the events. “To contribute that amount during two of the most significant economic downturns in our country’s history is a major statement of support in the people and programs of Bethany College.”
In addition to providing an update on recent progress at West Virginia’s oldest degree-granting institution, he noted that a recent national feature in “The Chronicle of Higher Education” profiled Bethany’s commitment to student-centeredness, reflecting the College’s initiatives during the past seven years to serving the changing needs and expectations of today’s college students and their families.
Dr. Miller said the College has expanded student-support services, earning national recognition. He led a Council of Independent Colleges national conference session early last spring on the career focus of liberal arts colleges. The theme of the session was “Building Value: Linking Classroom to Career.”
Dr. Miller also discussed the importance of The Bethany Plan, which aids students in identifying with and becoming a part of academic, co-curricular and extracurricular activities. Students can take advantage of global study-abroad trips, career-focused internships and research opportunities. Senior capstone projects and comprehensive examinations round out a student’s education at Bethany.
“We all have 168 hours in a week,” he said. “A typical student will devote 18 hours per week to classroom activities and sleep between 42 and 50 hours per week. At a residential liberal arts college, we partner with students for learning activities for the remaining 100 hours. This might be athletics or recreation, a campus job, a fraternity or sorority, or service learning.”
Now in his 24th year as a college president and seventh year at Bethany, Dr. Miller provided a variety of updates on a number of topics:
- ECAC Southeast Bowl: For the first time since 1980, Bethany’s football team will advance to the post-season, competing in the ECAC Southeast Bowl in Baltimore, MD. The Bison, under second year head coach Bill Garvey, recorded the most wins by a Bethany football team since 1981 and will play Stevenson University at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
- Volleyball Success: The Bison volleyball squad recently completed another successful season, winning the consolation game of the ECAC Tournament after winning the championship the past four years. Coach Courtney Kline’s Bison have a team grade point average of 3.45 (on a 4.0 scale) and had six players with perfect 4.0 grade point averages in season. “She wins contests with top notch student and campus leaders,” Dr. Miller said.
- Transformation Now! Capital Campaign: The campaign has reached the $48 million mark in gifts and pledges entering its final year. The College’s endowment has grown to $52 million, the best among private colleges in the state.
- Enrollment: This fall, the College welcomed 325 new students, including 280 freshmen, 30 transfers and 15 graduate students. Bethany annually enrolls approximately 1,100 students, with a residential community of just over 800 this fall. This year’s student body includes learners from 23 states and 11 foreign countries. An additional 300 students enroll in continuing education programs each year through Bethany’s re-established Buffalo Seminary. Dr. Miller said that the longer-range goal is to selectively increase the residential campus population to 925. Top states traditionally represented in the new class include Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Florida, respectively.
- The Larry Grimes Lecture Series Endowment: Spearheaded by the Bethany Alumni Council, the endowment has passed $110,000 in contributions with the first lecture presented October 11 during Homecoming. Dr. Grimes delivered the address titled “Eros, Thanatos, Hemingway, Jesus and Me.” He is the editor of a recent scholarly book on Ernest Hemingway’s years in Cuba.
- Dedication of Jordan Hall: The College dedicated Jordan Hall in Campbell Village, named in honor of Greg and Ellen Jordan (’81), in a ceremony October 11. Dr. Jordan is chair of the College’s Board of Trustees.
- Student-Leader Trip to NYC: He commented on a unique opportunity for Bethany students that occurred in the second week of October. Trustee Vice Chair Dr. Robert McCann (’80), CEO of UBS Group Americas, sponsored a trip to New York City for 25 student leaders to tour Wall Street financial institutions and meet with corporate executives. Students from the McCann Student Investment Fund, Bethany’s unique $1.5 million portfolio managed exclusively by students interested in business-related careers, were a prominent part of the leadership group.
- Society for Collegiate Journalists (SCJ) National Conference: The College hosted the Society for Collegiate Journalists National Conference October 2-4. Distinguished national speakers in journalism, media and communications fields were invited, most of whom were Bethany alumni. Bethany’s SCJ chapter received top honors as National Chapter of the Year during the conference.
- Dual-Degree Programs: As a national liberal arts college, Bethany has expanded educational partnerships with prominent national universities, Dr. Miller said. The College offers collaborative undergraduate/graduate opportunities with Columbia University, Duquesne University, Case Western Reserve University and Carnegie Mellon University as well as a unique collaborative in digital communications with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Bethany’s innovative partnerships with some of the top institutions in America have significantly expanded student opportunity, he pointed out.
- Globalization: This spring a new agreement with Webster University was signed, opening study-abroad possibilities for students through Webster’s programs in 11 countries around the world. The Webster program, coupled with the College’s relationship with Arcadia University, brings over 75 new opportunities to Bethany’s international portfolio.
- The McCann Learning Center: Housing the PASS, Beth Bridge and tutoring programs, the McCann Learning Center is important to student achievement. The Center was recognized by the Washington, DC-based National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities as one of eight innovative programs nationally to assure student success.
- Student Volunteer Service: Bethany College is one of just 98 colleges and universities nationwide to be named to the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its leadership in developing programs in interfaith and community service. This is the third time in the last four years that Bethany has earned this distinction.
Dr. Miller also commented on the College’s highly competitive NCAA Division III athletic program, which fields 22 teams and an equestrian club team – the largest number of sports on any college campus in the state. The Bethany Equestrian Center at Oglebay Resort has had significant upgrades as a result of generous support from many. After a strong fall season, winter sports have started with swimming and diving (men 6-1, women 5-2), women’s basketball (2-0) and men’s basketball (1-0) off to strong starts.
He then addressed the topic of institutional growth, outlining plans to grow the residential population by about 100.
“In this challenging higher education environment, we can’t rely on doing things the old way,” Dr. Miller said. “We can’t just pass the cost on to students. Expanding the residential population will create greater critical mass, greater diversity and increased resources. It will also be attractive to alumni and donors.”
He closed with comments about the College’s “golden past and bright future,” noting that Bethany celebrates 175 years in 2014-15.
“We’re proud of our heritage as West Virginia’s oldest degree-granting institution. We trace our origins to the founding of Buffalo Seminary at what was then Bethany, Virginia, in 1818. However, we count 1840 as our founding as a degree-granting college.” The College reports over 22,000 alumni.
He also announced major speakers for the 175th year, noting that all are Bethany graduates:
- Fall Convocation: Dr. Linda Lewis ’61, Clinical Professor Emeritus of Neurology at Columbia University
- 100th Anniversary Celebration of Bethany Memorial Church: the Rev. Peter Morgan ’61
- Keresty Lectures: Dave Egan ’79, Chief Marketing Officer of Reed Smith
- Kalon Scholars: Elizabeth Verrier ’96, Vice President and Senior Counsel, American Express
- Founder’s Day: David Jolliffe ’74, Brown Chair in English Literature, University of Arkansas
- Darline Nicholson May Morning Breakfast: Gina DeBlasis Kinder ’00, Coordinating Producer, Pikewood Creative
- Baccalaureate: Rev. Juan Rodriguez ’79, Regional Minister, Christian Church
- Commencement: Dr. Robert McCann ’80, CEO for the Americas, UBS Wealth Management