In the parlance of today’s students, 2009 has been “amazing” in myriad ways.
The holiday season offers a meaningful time for us to reflect on the recent past and to express our heartfelt gratitude for another outstanding year at Bethany College. As we look to 2010—our 170th year—we are thankful to those who came before us, and especially, for the groundbreaking work they completed in laying the foundation for this remarkable college. The oldest college in the state, Bethany remains true to its residential liberal arts mission while planning strategically for the future.
It is hard to believe that this will be our third Christmas as a part of the Bethany Family. Annie and I thank all Bethanians for the warm welcome we have received since coming here. Bethany truly is a very special place.
Two traditions at Bethany help to make the College special: Greek life and intercollegiate athletics. As I travel the country, visiting with alumni and friends, I’m reminded of the special role these two elements of campus life play in the Bethany experience, especially in linking alumni of diverse generations.
The College hosts ten fraternities and sororities, living in nine houses. During my tenure at Bethany, three of these organizations have experienced historical milestones. Delta Tau Delta celebrated its 150th anniversary in summer 2008 with a national celebration on campus. The Delta Tau Delta Founder’s House, across from Bethany House, is a constant reminder of the unique place which that fraternity holds on our campus. Phi Kappa Tau held its 85th anniversary celebration this past year, while Beta Theta Pi plans a 150th anniversary celebration scheduled for this summer.
I recently dined with a proud group of Bethany Greeks from throughout the nation on the 12th floor of the impressive new Reed Smith Centre overlooking downtown Pittsburgh. Hosted by Board Chair Greg Jordan (’81), the evening crystallized the role that fraternities, sororities and other extracurricular organizations continue to play in the life of the College. Members of this group attribute much of their success to these campus life experiences, and to ongoing friendships formed across the classes.
Fraternities and sororities are well represented on our Board of Trustees. Greg Jordan, a Beta, is global managing partner of Reed Smith, one of the largest law firms in the nation. Board Vice Chair Bob McCann (’80), the new chief executive officer of UBS of the Americas, and Treasurer George Davis (’78), president of Avatech, are proud alumni of Sigma Nu. Executive Committee members Beth (Sweeney) Athol (’82), an estate planning attorney, is a Phi Mu alumna and Ken Bado (’77), executive vice president of Autodesk, is a Phi Tau.
Last week, I attended an alumni and friends gathering hosted by Neil (’55, H’08) and Jackie Christman at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Neil, a Beta, has been one of our biggest supporters and immediately connected with several other loyal Betas at the event. He recently regaled current students with his memory of serenading Jackie with the Beta Choir providing vocal backup. These recollections form the rich tapestry that is Bethany.
Current student members of Greek organizations continue to spearhead many leadership and service projects. For example, Zeta Tau Alpha recently played an instrumental role in the success of the Bethany College “Relay for Life”—a campus effort to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The venue, Bison Stadium during the final home football game of the year, brought appropriate focus to this important project. Joyce (Dumbaugh) Chernenko (’78), a family court judge and Zeta Tau Alpha alumna, has devoted countless hours to the Panhellenic Council and to the enhancement of overall Greek life at Bethany.
Intercollegiate athletics provide another thread in the College’s ongoing sense of community and tradition. I recently hosted a luncheon at Christman Manor for the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC). These scholar-athletes represent the interests of student-athletes in all 20 intercollegiate sports, the most at any college or university in the state. The College also sponsors a competitive equestrian team and will add men’s lacrosse as a club sport in 2010.
The College has made major investments to enhance the athletic experience at Bethany, including artificial turf, a new track and lighting at Bison Stadium, a total re-make of the softball complex, expanded weight room, a new 24-hour fitness center and an 1,800-square-foot locker room facility with nearly 90 lockers.
What impresses me is that these young women and men on the SAAC appropriately frame the philosophy of NCAA Division III sports, excelling on the fields and courts as well as in the classroom. They truly exemplify the mission of colleges and universities in the division, placing highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience and on successful completion of all students' academic programs. They demonstrate Bethany College’s success in establishing and maintaining an environment in which a student-athlete's sports activities are conducted as an integral part of his or her total academic experience.
Stellar Bethany scholar-athletes include senior soccer player Megan Cook, who, for the second consecutive year, was recognized by ESPN the Magazine for outstanding academics in voting by the College Sports Information Directors of America after excelling for the Bison in a memorable nine-win season. Further, SAAC member Maggie McCort led the cross country team to an impressive showing at the NCAA Mid-West Regionals with a personal best time in her final college meet. Finally, sophomore Alyssa Schrecengost played an instrumental role on a very young volleyball squad, boasting a 16-win season—the most by a Bison squad since 1992. With a roster that includes no seniors and only one junior, the future for this team appears bright.
These are a few of the many success stories among Bethany’s scholar-athletes who continue to excel in the classroom as well as on the courts and playing fields.
Last spring, Bethany listed 22 Bison honorees on the Presidents Athletic Conference Academic Honor Roll, with 15 earning a GPA higher than 3.8, including three with a perfect 4.0.
Bethany’s women’s programs contributed 64 percent of members on the list, including women’s basketball, women’s swimming and diving and women’s track and field, with four each.
For 170 years Bethany’s mission has been true to the development of the individual. Participation in Greek life and in Bison athletics continues not only to hone time-management and leadership skills in current students, but also to enhance a meaningful bond with each other and with their alma mater after graduation. Bethany continues to be the outstanding small college of national distinction in part because of the enduring success of both.
As the holidays and the New Year approach, and we look forward to an "amazing" 2010, Annie and I offer warm season’s greetings to every member of the Bethany Family.
Scott D. Miller, Ph.D.
President of the College
To see Dr. Miller's biography:
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