Bethany President Highlights Successes and Goals in State of the College Address 

BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College President Dr. Scott D. Miller discussed “where we’ve been, the challenges and opportunities confronting us today, and our plans for the future” during his annual State of the College address Aug. 19 to faculty and staff in Commencement Hall.

“We strive to be a classical, residential, liberal arts college committed to teaching and student success, a place where academics and student life complement each other, for we recognize that learning takes many forms, both inside and outside the classroom,” he said.BethanyStateoftheCollegeweb.jpg

Dr. Miller said that Bethany’s prominence as a national liberal arts college, the only such institution so categorized in West Virginia, continued to earn accolades for the campus. The College is one of just five National Liberal Arts Colleges in its peer group, the 35-member Appalachian College Association, to earn the national title.  According to comparative IPEDS data provided by the ACA, Bethany is second in graduation rates and third in retention among the private colleges in West Virginia.  Bethany is in the Top Tier of ACA members in retention and graduation rates, Dr. Miller said.

“It is especially significant that Bethany is among the top ten colleges in the nation lauded by U.S News and World Report for the number of alumni who attend graduate schools within a year of earning their baccalaureate degrees,” he said.

“As strategic planning for sustainable growth continues to undergird all our endeavors and programs, Bethany looks forward to a new academic year in which we continue to position the College to meet the needs of a volatile and highly competitive marketplace.”

Miller highlighted four key areas that will aid in the College’s success:

  • Enrollment:  The College expects 325 new students, including 280 freshmen, 30 transfers and 15 graduate students, maintaining an annual headcount of 1,100 and a residential community of just over 800 this fall. Dr. Miller said that the longer-range goal is to selectively increase the residential population to 925.
  • Finances:  He noted that Bethany has strengthened its Division of Finance with the implementation of a wide variety of higher education best practices, with a goal of increasing total revenues from all sources while demonstrating fiscal responsibility.
  • Resources Acquisition: Announcing that the current phase of its capital campaign has reached the $47 million mark in pledges and gifts, Dr. Miller said the College would expect to achieve its first-phase goal of the final $5 million in support during the current academic year. The campaign, “Transformation Now!”, is funding endowment growth, facility enhancements and current operations including increased scholarship support for students from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states. Later campaign phases will fully fund the College’s strategic plan, which also calls for maximizing use of campus facilities year round to provide additional revenue. Notably, the College’s endowment has grown to $52 million, the best among private colleges in the state.
  • Creating a more student-centered living and learning environment: A recent national feature in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dr. Miller said, 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.

Dr. Miller also discussed ways Bethany is fostering affordable education while providing new options to students.

A new agreement with Webster University opens study-abroad possibilities for students through their 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, Dr. Miller said. The College also recently renewed its agreement with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in digital communications. These are two of the agreements Bethany has with 16 institutions around the world.

Among Bethany’s educational partners are dual degree offers with Columbia University, Case Western Reserve University, Duquesne University, Carnegie Mellon University and others.

The McCann Learning Center, which houses the PASS, Beth Bridge and tutoring programs, is also important to student achievement, Dr. Miller noted. 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.

In other citations and announcements, President Miller: 

  • Welcomed Dr. David W. Ewing, who joined Bethany July 1 as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty.
  • Welcomed two faculty members: Erik Sprowls, the Renner Visiting Scholar in Communications, and Fulbright Scholar Mai Ahmed Baddar of Alexandria, Egypt, who will teach multiple Arabic language and culture courses.
  • Congratulated Dr. Harald Menz, Professor of World Languages and Cultures, Co-Chair of the Department of Humanities and Director of Interdisciplinary and International Studies. Dr. Menz received the 2014 President’s Award for Excellence in Performance for Faculty.
  • Congratulated Heather Taylor, Coordinator of The Writing Center and Learning Specialist, who received the 2014 President’s Award for Excellence in Performance for Staff.
  • Recognized Dr. Lisa Reilly, The Goulding-Woolery Professor in Chemistry and Associate Professor of Chemistry, who was honored as a finalist at the West Virginia Merit Foundation Professor of the Year ceremony in Charleston.  
  • Recognized Adam Fletcher, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, who was named “2014 College/University Mathematics Teacher of the Year” by the West Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
  • Congratulated Dr. Scott Brothers and Dr. Carolyn Kitchens, both Assistant Professors in Chemistry, and Dr. Jennifer Franko, Assistant Professor in Biology, for the NASA Faculty Research Enhancement Awards they received for collaborative research with students.
  • Recognized Dr.Patrick Sutherland, Professor of Communications and Media Arts, who has been named Faculty Fellow for the National Association of Programming Television Executives, and Co-Chair for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications Small Programs Interest Group.
  • Recognized Professor M.E. Yancosek Gamble, Chair of the Department of Business, Communications and Media Arts, who recruited the Society for Collegiate Journalists National Conference to Bethany scheduled for this October.

“Just as none of the College’s recent accolades would have been possible without the dedication and perseverance of those who have gone before us—as well as many of you here today—each of you will play a key role in fulfilling these future objectives,” Dr. Miller said to the campus audience. “We cannot hope to achieve continued vitality of our College without all of you.”

The oldest degree granting institution in West Virginia, Bethany traces its origins to the founding of Buffalo Seminary at what was then Bethany, Virginia, in 1818. The institution counts 1840 as its founding as a degree-granting college.  Located on a beautiful, historic, 1,300-acre campus of 45 buildings in the wooded foothills of the Allegheny Mountains 39 miles from Pittsburgh, Bethany enrolled 1,100 students (headcount) in 2013-14.