BETHANY, W.Va. — Bethany College marked the start of the 2014-15 academic year with a formal Matriculation Convocation August 22 in the Fred H. Tilock Amphitheatre at the Pennington Quadrangle in the heart of the historic campus.
Dr. Scott D. Miller, President of the College, was joined by the faculty and staff in the ceremony that added over 280 freshmen to the campus community. Overall, the College welcomed 325 new students including 30 transfers and 15 graduate students.
“You’ve made the right decision in choosing to enroll at a transformative time in the life of this 174-year-old college, and we are delighted to have you as part of our vibrant and spectacularly beautiful mountaintop community,” Dr. Miller stated.
The afternoon began with the new Bethanians walking in a processional from the brick road in front of the Benedum Commons through the historic Oglebay Gates up the hill to the Pennington Quadrangle, a long-standing Bethany tradition. Following matriculation, the Class of 2018 will not walk through the Oglebay Gates until graduation.
Bethany enrolled 1,100 students (headcount) in 2013-14. The College anticipates selectively growing the traditional population from its current level of approximately 800 to 900 by 2017.
This year’s student body will include 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.
The Matriculation Convocation also served as the “send off” event for parents of the Class of 2018.
“This historic small college of national distinction is the oldest degree granting institution in West Virginia, older than the State itself, ” Dr. Miller said. “But do not let that fool you: Bethany is, of course, rich in tradition, but it’s also a highly contemporary institution.”
Dr. Miller told students of the opportunities at Bethany, such as multiple intercollegiate athletics, fraternities and sororities, service learning, and a wide variety of campus-based activities. Unlike much larger institutions, he noted, the College’s 13:1 student-faculty ratio makes it possible for professors to actually get to know students.
“This mountaintop community, peaceful and calm, yet full of opportunity and knowledge, is one I’m proud to be part of, and I’m sure you always will be, too.”
Jared Roque, President of the Student Government Association, also welcomed the students. Dr. David W. Ewing, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, presented the formal charge to the faculty to honor its commitment to the entering class. Gerald Stebbins, Dean of Students, presented the formal charge to the students to honor their commitment to education.
The convocation concluded with a time-honored ritual as each new student signed the Bethany College Book of Matriculation – a tradition that dates back to the late 1800s. While the original book was destroyed in a fire, the custom continues to be followed 175 years after Alexander Campbell founded the college.
“The great adventure known as college will be one of the most memorable periods of your life,” Dr. Miller concluded. “And so we congratulate you on arriving at this special day. All of us here in the Bethany campus community wish you the very best, and we sincerely hope that you enjoy this most meaningful journey.”
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.