Click here to learn more about Bethany College’s health and safety policies set for the 2021 Fall Semester.

Commencement 2021

Congratulations, Bethanians, we have successfully completed the 2020-2021 academic year.

Thank you to our faculty, staff, and students for following safety protocols and for your commitment to keeping yourselves and others healthy. This year has gone as smoothly as we could have expected when we launched our #ProtectTheHerd initiative. In a year of uncertainty, we minimized our number of positive COVID-19 cases at the college, and finished the fall and spring semesters on campus without interruption.

Because of your dedication, we recently celebrated the classes of 2021 and 2020 with an in-person commencement ceremony. I am particularly happy to have welcomed back last year’s graduates after the pandemic canceled or drastically changed the traditions they expected during their senior year at Bethany. Congratulations to the graduates of both classes for navigating unexpected challenges during your college careers, and best of luck in your futures.

I wish everyone a safe and happy summer, and look forward to welcoming our returning students back to campus in the fall for another in-person semester. We know that Bethany College thrives as a residential community, and we are hopeful that the fall semester will begin to look and feel more like Bethany did before the pandemic. Trust that we will continue to focus on the health and well-being of the entire Bethany community as we plan ahead.

This year, as #ONEBethany, you have demonstrated what it means to be #BethanySTRONG.

Defining Student Success

As the academic year nears its close at Bethany College, I am excited to celebrate our 2020 and 2021 graduates with an in-person commencement ceremony that is expected to be our largest event since the COVID-19 pandemic began last March.

As students share their Bethany experiences in this month’s video, I am reminded of the opportunities and connections on and off campus by which our students are encouraged to thrive as #ONEBethany. The unwavering emphasis on overall student success shown by our faculty, staff, and alumni reinforces that our mission changes lives and that our purpose is timeless.

In addition to all of the students who were recognized during our virtual Honors Day celebration, I commend the hard work of the more than 70 students from across our curriculum who participated in this year’s Scholarship Symposium. Serving as a unique platform for our students to demonstrate their growth academically and personally, the Symposium is a shining example of how our strategic plan, Bethany Connect, is reflected in every aspect of campus life.

As we approach final exams, let us continue to follow safety protocols and do our best to assure that we end the year #BethanySTRONG.

Women Empowering Women

As we continue to honor the women who have shared their unique gifts, empowered others, and helped to make the world better for us all, I also want to take time to recognize the students who made the President’s and Dean Lists. Congratulations to each of you. Your commitment to academic excellence is exceptional, and we are proud to call you Bethanians. Together, we will celebrate your success again, and the success of so many in our community, at our second virtual Honors Convocation beginning on April 6 and running through April 15. During that time, look for special recognitions of our honorees on social media and join in our annual Symposium on Scholarship, among other scheduled online events. Please check your email for more information about this year’s Honors Convocation.

Walking across campus, I cannot help but enjoy the warmer weather, which hints that spring is near. I have enjoyed seeing our students spending more time outside, as it offers a glimpse into the sense of normalcy that we all crave. Another sign of that “normalcy” will occur in May as we have decided to host an in-person Commencement ceremony with health and safety precautions in place. So far 85% of our faculty and staff have been vaccinated, and our COVID numbers have averaged just two cases since the start of semester with three weeks of zero cases. As a result, the Cabinet and I are confident we can safely hold Commencement for the Class of 2021 and their immediate families. We will also livestream the event for alumni and undergraduate students since those two groups will not be allowed to attend. Expect to see more details soon as our planning is finalized.

The one-year anniversary of the start of the pandemic has passed, and while we continue to mourn the loss of so many, I am finding comfort in the remarkable fortitude and flexibility we all displayed at Bethany College. As I shared previously, the exhortation to stand as #ONEBethany has never been more vividly shown as it has been during this once-in-a-lifetime disruption. We now move with hope and even greater appreciation for each other and our community into the long-awaited spring.

Commitment. Caring. Community.

So often when I write these introductory notes, I am reminded that every ounce of excellence at Bethany College directly reflects the inspiring dedication of our students, faculty, and staff to build true community. Last year showed that commitment like never before as we met each challenge head-on through comprehensive student care and an unrelenting, holistic commitment to health and safety. We are seeing that same commitment across campus again as our spring semester continues in-person.

We are also seeing moments to celebrate. West Virginia is currently leading the country in vaccinations, and I take pride in knowing that our campus helped in that successful distribution to date. I also take pride in knowing that we were able to provide a safe testing environment for students to take, and successfully pass, their comprehensive exams last month. Congratulations, and thanks to all involved in this process.

Another congratulatory message must also go out to our Bison Sweethearts this Valentine’s Day. For those of you following us on social media, you have likely seen some of our alumni couples and read some of their stories. I am grateful that they took the time to share their memories, and I encourage all our Bison Sweethearts to keep sending in their stories to Rhone Thrash ’19, our new director of alumni relations, here. Thank you.

We excel in changing students’ lives because we care so much about every facet of their experience. Let’s continue to make a difference in 2021.

Previous Messages

Attitude of Gratitude

We have heard the phrase “attitude of gratitude.” It’s a phrase I routinely take to heart, but also one that I believe all Bethanians are continuing to embrace as we prepare to say goodbye to 2020. This was a year unlike any other in our lifetimes, and getting through it required our students, faculty, and staff to partner and persevere like never before. We could have approached this year through a negative lens, but we chose to #ProtectTheHerd in more ways than one. We showed an attitude of gratitude.

Looking back, I would need more space to list every one of our collaborative efforts, but suffice it to say, we demonstrated a level of compassion and commitment that has inspired me all year and kept our College in the Green Level every day. As a community, we helped our students through this time with grace and a compass, giving them much needed direction and support so they could succeed. We united around health and safety as we encouraged proper social distancing, the wearing of face coverings, and the need for maintaining good personal hygiene. We re-thought each space on campus so as to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe and slow the virus’ spread. We also witnessed the attitude of gratitude among our alumni, who continued to give generously despite the pandemic impacting them, their families, and their friends and colleagues.

All of these efforts contributed to us being #BethanySTRONG when we needed to be, and as our students finish their exams, and as we officially move into the holiday season, I do so with sincere admiration and an attitude of gratitude. I know that the holidays will likely be different for all of us this year, but the spirit of giving has no bounds. Neither do the hearts that comprise #ONEBethany.

Warmest wishes for a happy Thanksgiving, a merry Christmas, and a year of new possibilities.

Inspired by Change

Fall at Bethany College. Over the years, I have heard alumni refer to this time as “magical,” and I would have to agree. The new season reminds us that change is everywhere with results that inspire. For me, I am finding inspiration right now in our students, faculty, and staff who have adapted to incredible changes this semester to keep our community safe from COVID-19.

As autumn hues transform our living landscape, we have seen our superior teaching and intellectual engagement, both of which are central to our learning environment, delivered in rearranged, socially distanced classrooms and through increased technology. We have watched our faculty continue to offer one-on-one attention, safely and meaningfully. Our community has sought to provide more support services to help our students’ mental and physical wellbeing, and we have seen our alumni again rise to the occasion with generous gifts that make “magic” happen for our students and the College overall.

Lori Weaver, our new Vice President for Advancement, understands this magic well and is excited to get to know our alumni in her new position. I asked Lori to share some insight about our needs, our upcoming virtual Homecoming, and her work in this month’s e-communication video, which you can watch above. I also encourage you to connect with Lori and her team to learn more about how to make meaningful change for our students and our College.

In this unconventional year, we remain #BethanySTRONG, a fact that is confirmed daily as we continue to change lives, fulfill our mission, and keep our students, faculty, and staff safe. Thank you for doing your part.

We are #BethanySTRONG.

We have now been in-person on campus for a few weeks, and our public health measures appear to be working thanks to the commitment of all our students, faculty, and staff. As of today, Bethany College remains in the green level of our COVID-19 warning level chart, which is wonderful news for me to be able to report in our first e-newsletter of the 2020-21 academic year. I hope to be able to report the same news in every communication this year, so please continue to follow what we have outlined from the beginning: wear face coverings, follow the advised six-feet apart in social distancing, and regularly assess your personal hygiene and health status.

Along with the elation of a new semester, being back together also means we can publicly celebrate as a community, which we did during our recent Matriculation Convocation, and which I would like to do now for the students who made the President’s and Dean’s Lists last semester. With everything that happened last spring, our students still stepped up, and I am honored to be able to recognize them for their academic achievements. Congratulations!

Our fall semester continues to go smoothly, and we are excited by what is to come, including our virtual Homecoming in late October. I also want to thank our alumni and friends for their ongoing investments in Bethany College. The impact of COVID-19 is being felt everywhere, so to have the College remain a top priority among our esteemed alumni is indicative of the passion they have for this place and the students who follow in their footsteps. Thank you for caring so much about what matters most. #ONEBethany always. #BethanySTRONG.

Our Bethany Community

I must begin this note with words of deepest appreciation for your patience, understanding, kindness, and collaborative spirit. Last week’s decisions at Bethany and in the national landscape of higher education were unprecedented, but we took the steps we did because we care greatly about the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. At Bethany, we are a family, and we want each member of our family to be safe.

Bethany is blessed to have students who come from across the United States and around the world. With that in mind, and upon the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we determined that extending our spring break and moving to online learning beginning March 23 was the best course of action for our community at this time. This decision was one of the hardest I, along with my Cabinet, have ever had to make as it means we are keeping you from your second home, your friends, and your college community you helped to build. This is unimaginable to all of us at Bethany as our students and their experience living and learning together on our beautiful residential campus are at the heart of our mission and purpose.

I also recognize that this decision brings with it many questions, and I want to applaud all of our campus leaders for spending hours working to answer as many of them as they can these past few days. This level of personal engagement is #ONEBethany on full display, and I am beyond proud of the compassion being shown to all our constituents and to one another during this challenging time in our world.

As for our seniors, I know this is exceptionally difficult with graduation on the horizon. We pray that the spread of COVID-19 will subside, and that all those affected globally can find comfort. I assure you, we will make an announcement regarding Comprehensive Exams and Graduation as soon as possible. We are all navigating uncertainly right now, but through it all, we will continue do everything we can to make your final year special, all while adhering to the advice of public health officials.

Bethany College is resilient and for generations has promoted the creation of a world of worth and value. The health of our campus and global community calls us to take extraordinary measures right now, and I remain grateful to each of you for your continued understanding and desire to do whatever is needed for our students, our campus, and the world in which we live. Always #ONEBethany.

For more information, please visit our Health & Wellness page.

A Passion for Science

In my travels to connect with our alumni, I am often asked about today’s classroom experience and the ongoing influence of faculty members in helping students discover their passions. I cannot begin to recount the number of stories I’ve heard over the years about this professor or that professor. The fact is that they are all inspiring, as is the fact that our students continue to find that same level of camaraderie and commitment to their success in our current faculty.

In viewing this month’s video, I hope you can see exactly what I mean as Dr. Anna Edlund takes us inside the sciences at Bethany. Anna’s passion for working with young people is contagious, as is her enthusiasm, and I thank her for giving us a glimpse into what the student experience looks like in her area.

Bethany’s science program is a powerful one, which encourages student-faculty research and includes such majors as biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, physics, and now environmental science – a key addition that excites current and future students. I also think what sets our science program apart is what Anna reflects – a willingness to engage with students and to partner with them, not just in coursework completion, but in life.

These connections are the essence of the liberal arts, and I want to thank each of you for your role in showing that difference and in sharing it with those you know. Always #ONEBethany.

So Much to Explore

I remember when I first toured Bethany’s beautiful campus. It was during the presidential search process, and I distinctly recall feeling an elevated level of engagement and enthusiasm among the students. As they shared their Bethany experiences with me, I could tell that what this campus offered them was something far more holistic and integrated. Here they could explore every dimension of themselves including perform on stage, play sports, conduct research, and go Greek, among other opportunities. They could create new programs and make lifelong connections with faculty, staff, and fellow students.

Fast forward to today and those same traits still define our students. Our whole-person approach to learning means that our students are never alone on their respective paths. They have friends, classmates, professors, teammates, coaches, staff members, and advisors guiding them and supporting them at every turn.

Sophomore Khalil Wilson is one of our students who has seen this commitment and the power relationships play during his time at Bethany. Khalil agreed to be featured in our latest video, in which he shows us a day in his life at Bethany. Seeing Khalil share his story reinforces that our mission changes lives and that our purpose is timeless.

I hope you enjoy his story, and thank you for all you do to support our students’ success. #ONEBethany

Celebrating a Year of Connections and Growth

If you were to visit campus right now, you would feel a stillness and peace that only comes with the holiday season. The fall semester has concluded, and the winter weather has settled into our picturesque campus, yet in the quietness, the words our students recently shared in my latest video continue to warm my heart.

To our students, making meaningful connections matter to them. Whether the connection starts with a professor or a fellow student, a coach or a staff member, or with Bethany alumni, each engagement brings deeper meaning and purpose to their educational journey. From there, they begin to connect within their chosen studies, with each other, with other cultures, in our community, and with our College. Through these connections, our students grow and discover their true gifts – ones that last far beyond the holidays.

Our ability to create these powerful connections also reflects your generous support and ongoing partnership, and we remain grateful for such investments, not only at the holidays, but always.

Thank you, and may the year ahead bring even more opportunities to create meaningful connections that support our students’ continued success.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Bringing the World to Bethany

With the holidays nearing, I find myself taking time to reflect on the many blessings that abound at Bethany College. Our students succeed on so many levels here, including as servant-leaders and catalysts for change. Our faculty encourage creative thinking in and outside the classroom, and we attract scholars of international prominence to our campus.

I recently had the chance to talk with our newest Fulbright Scholars, and the conversation has only reinforced how critical global engagement is to our students’ growth and understanding. Aya El-Shafei, of Egypt, Chu-Yun Hsueh, of Taiwan, and Léa Serres, of France, who are teaching language courses in Arabic, Chinese, and French, respectively, are helping students see the world through new and differing lenses, and I am excited to have them here with us. I hope you will take time to learn more about the Fulbright program and these professors in the video above.

This is also a season of thanks, and I wish to thank each of you for continuing to support Bethany with your time, talent, and treasure. We simply could not change lives as we do without the help of alumni, faculty, staff, and current students.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and may we always be #ONEBethany.

Whom would you recommend?

With the cooler temperatures now settling in across the state, I am reminded that this is a critical season for our admission team. As I write, our admission counselors are engaged in multiple conversations with prospective students and their families. Team members are also traveling to college fairs, sending out a variety of communications, and encouraging prospects to apply before the holidays arrive.

As alumni, you are essential partners in our recruitment efforts because you know the life-changing nature of the Bethany experience firsthand. Your voice and perspective matter to future students, so much so that we created a special way for you to encourage more students to consider Bethany—the Alumni Referral Scholarship. Essentially, any accepted student whom you referred to us will be eligible to receive a $1,000 scholarship every year for all four years. This would be in addition to any other financial assistance provided.

I am pleased to introduce you to two of our Alumni Referral Scholarship recipients, Joanna Melita ’23 and Ian Nelson ’23, along with Assistant Director of Enrollment John Falconi. I hope that through their words you can see how your actions can and do make a significant difference. These students came to Bethany College because of you, and I cannot thank you enough for sharing your story with them. To learn more about referring students to us and this special scholarship, please click here.

In the meantime, may you continue to promote the creation of a world of worth and value as proud Bethany alumni.

Mobilizing the Power of #OneBethany

With the official start of fall, I find myself reflecting on the efforts of sophomore Allison Paxton, whom we all had the opportunity to get to know through her forward-thinking vision in partnership with Special Olympics. For those of you who were able to support our first-ever Field Day, which Allison created so individuals with special needs could experience the power of sports, please accept my sincerest thanks. More than 100 of you volunteered on September 8, and your presence, contributions, and willingness to be a part of this day revealed the true spirit of the Bethany community to everyone who joined us. As I shared at the event, I expect this Field Day will happen every year from this point forward, and that we will be inviting Allison back 50 years from now to say, “Look at this!”

Allison’s efforts also exemplify what we do daily at Bethany: we help our students find clarify of purpose on their respective journeys to becoming responsible citizens and outstanding leaders. These elements are embedded into Bethany Connect, our strategic plan, as well because they are critical to our students’ success. In addition, just as Allison showed us, every student can get involved on campus with something close to their heart, and each one can and will make a difference.

Seeing our students lead with confidence and embrace a commitment to others that inspires all those around them should also remind us that what we do matters— in the classroom, in activities, in conversations, in correspondence, in alumni engagement, and in events such as Field Day. I thank Allison for giving us a glimpse into how one person can bring a community together for good, and I look ahead with excitement into the collective impact our College will continue to have locally, regionally, and globally.

Thank you for wanting to be a part of the journey as #ONEBethany.

One Team. One Tradition. One Bethany.

Greetings to all our new students, faculty and staff, and welcome back to those who are returning for what I am confident will be another exceptional year at Bethany College. As I shared in my recent remarks, the campus feels fully alive again with the excitement, energy, laughter, smiles, determination, drive, and special gifts that each of you bring to our community as we begin the 2019-2020 academic year.

Every year at this time, I am inspired by what I see. As I looked out at our community gathered together last week, I was again reminded that we are blessed to have remarkable students, faculty, staff, and alumni whose compassion, strength, tenacity, and capability exemplify the power of the Bethany spirit on campus and around the world.

That is why this year’s theme of “One Team. One Tradition. One Bethany“ resonates so profoundly with me as classes get underway. Only in partnership can we help students succeed and realize their dreams. Only as one team can we continue to move our strategic plan, Bethany Connect, forward, and only as proud Bethanians can we inspire other students and families to choose our College.

Thank you for helping to make Bethany College the place to be. Together with each of you, I am looking forward to another year of proud Bison moments as we advance our mission and continue to secure our future success.

Thank you for continuing to support our vision. I am confident that we will exceed expectations as #ONEBethany.

Connecting to the Power of Alumni Engagement

As we prepare to move boldly ahead with Bethany Connect, I am excited to discuss our strategic plan’s fourth pillar: alumni networking. Our alumni are our ambassadors, and their Bethany stories will always inspire us. I have also appreciated their positive comments about our plan for success, in which they will play a significant role.

Building a more robust alumni network is essential for our shared future, which is why I was elated to have the above recorded conversation with Chris Lambert, our new vice president of advancement and alumni relations, and Mark Phillips, our new director of alumni engagement. I hope you will agree that we are in good hands as we grow our alumni relationships, cultivate more partnerships with alumni to create internships, mentorships and service-centered projects for our students, and increase overall engagement with and giving to our wonderful College.

Thank you for continuing to support our vision. I am confident that we will exceed expectations as #ONEBethany.

Reflections on Leadership

Growing up, I always viewed summer a special time for reflection and forward planning. In many ways, that is exactly what we are doing at Bethany as we continue to develop clear, consistent pathways designed to take each pillar of our strategic plan, Bethany Connect, and transform it into practice.

This past year, I have been honored to share an overview of each pillar through a series of video communications. However, for this next pillar, which focuses on leadership development, I asked our own Steve Thompson, director of athletics, to share thoughts on this critical element of the Bethany experience.

Steve joined us less than a year ago, but his words and those of the alumni featured in this month’s video reaffirm that this pillar is essential to our future success. I have often said that at Bethany, we don’t graduate students; we graduate leaders who have grown through athletics, the performing arts, team-building, and various classroom and extracurricular activities. Bethany Connect looks to expand our efforts in this area even more, and I am excited to see our plan come to life.

Thank you for continuing to engage in this journey that Bethany Connect is leading. I look forward to creating more future leaders in partnership with you.

Commencement 2019: An Inspiring Occasion

More than a week ago, we honored the accomplishments of the wonderful Class of 2019 during Bethany College’s 179th Commencement. This was a momentous occasion by all conceivable measures, and our community was elated to celebrate this day with our graduates.

I believe that Commencement provides a unique opportunity each year to reflect deeply on our own mission and purpose. As I shared in my remarks on May 11, this class, like all those that came before it, challenged us to see new perspectives in their time at Bethany. The class members showed us what it means to lead with heart. They modeled how to compete at the highest levels and serve with grace. The class also reminded us that stepping out of a comfort zone is necessary if we are to live up to our founder’s call to find meaningful solutions to society’s most pressing needs. These are the values we cultivate at Bethany, and I am incredibly proud of the results.

As alumni and friends, along with our faculty, staff and students, you are a continuation of a vision, and you are each connected to something far bigger than yourself. For the latest graduates, I know their first steps into the world will be mighty ones as they are now official Bethany alumni, and I am confident that they, like you, will continue to make a difference.

Congratulations to the Class of 2019, and may we always be #ONEBethany.

The Charge of Success

If energy could be transmitted through words, then this newsletter would allow each of you to feel the energy on campus as the 2018–19 academic year begins to wind down. Final papers, presentations, and projects are underway; our annual Scholarship Symposium has concluded wherein we recognized academic excellence; and our Commencement preparations are quickly coming together.

As president, this time of the year has always been my favorite, as it is when we see Bethany’s mission fully revealed in our soon-to-be graduates’ success. Their success, however, is not merely the completion of our requirements. It is found in how they discovered their respective passions. It is shown in the lifelong friendships they made. It is shared in the relationships they developed with professors who cared about them personally and professionally. It is also shown in their faces as they conquered challenges with determination and grace, took advantage of every opportunity, and responded to society’s greatest needs.

These attributes that define Bethany graduates also inform our strategic plan, Bethany Connect, which I am excited to share more about in our latest video. Indeed, this is an exciting time to be at Bethany College, and I want to thank everyone for partnering with us as we move forward on this extraordinary journey together.

Giving Match Challenge

As many of you know, this academic year’s theme is #ONEBethany. It is all about coming together to create a bold future for our college. However, that bold future can only be achieved through a collective effort to better our institution and prepare for the next decade.

Today, I am excited to announce the 4-to-1 Bethany Match Challenge. Members of the Beta Theta Pi Alumni have stepped up and will match 4-to-1 all new donations made to the college between now and June 30. So, if you are a first-time donor, or even if you haven’t made a donation in the last two years, this challenge is an amazing way for your donation to have a tremendous impact on Bethany.

By creating this campaign, the Betas have become a shining example of the oneness and togetherness the college is striving for with our #ONEBethany theme.

I want to thank you and the Betas for your generosity and encourage you all to join me in the challenge—and in our mission—to build a stronger community and brighter future for Bethany.

Think Big

This month’s message takes a deeper dive into pillar number two, Scholarship & Research. As society continues to grow increasingly complex, our plan aims to connect Bethany’s vibrant culture of scholarship and research to contribute comprehensive solutions to today’s greatest problems. Find out more about our new programming designed to inspire students to think big.

Bethany Connect

As I shared last time, Bethany College has set a bold course for its next decade by launching a new strategic plan, aptly titled Bethany Connect. The plan is founded on five pillars, the first of which will expand opportunities for our students to engage with diverse cultures and people as they connect more deeply in the world. I am excited to provide some more insight into the power of this pillar in this special video.

I also want to again thank those of you who have given in support of Bethany Connect already and who continue to fuel student success and teaching excellence at our College. Through your continued philanthropy and engagement, our strategic plan will succeed, and the students and faculty who are at the heart of it will thrive.

Together we are #ONEBethany, and together we can transform tomorrow.

Happy Holidays from Bethany College

Wishing you a happy holiday and blessed New Year from everyone at Bethany College.

One Bethany

Bethany recently hosted another successful Homecoming. Homecoming is always a time for reflection. As we reconnect with fellow alumni and old friends, we are reminded of how much Bethany has impacted our lives and shaped us. However, those connections aren’t just about nostalgia—they are the inspiration for our path forward.

In this video, we are pleased to present an outline of Bethany’s new strategic vision, titled “Bethany Connect.” The strategic vision sets a bold new course for Bethany’s next decade, powered by life-changing connections for our students, our region, and our world.