Federal Funding Paves the Way for New Era of Growth at West Virginia’s Oldest College

BETHANY, W. Va. – Bethany College, West Virginia’s oldest institution of higher education, announced April 3 that it has received a total of $39.6 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

These loans are part of the USDA’s Rural Development program and will be used for a variety of campus, facility, and programmatic improvements at Bethany.

“These federal loans will have significant benefits to our entire campus community for many years to come,” said Bethany College President Rev. Dr. Tamara Nichols Rodenberg. “They will enable Bethany to realize substantial savings in the service of its prior debt obligations. Consequently, they will provide us with the financial flexibility to aggressively pursue long-range strategic objectives and accelerate our pace of advancement and growth.”

Included in the loan total is a $5 million Rural Development Community Facilities loan guarantee for use in the planning, development, and construction of new or renovated facilities on campus.
This federal funding comes at a time of much anticipated growth and development at Bethany. The college has recently created several new academic majors, including cybersecurity and international business.
A major expansion to Bethany’s athletic center is expected to break ground this year and will be named the Georgiana and Bob Riley Athletic Center. A renovated campus dining hall was opened in September 2017. Abandoned property is being acquired for redevelopment in support of the College’s long-term strategic goals. In addition, new academic and office spaces are being planned.

“Federal funding of this magnitude is a game-changer for an institution of our size,” added Rodenberg. “This USDA support provides us with exciting options that will enrich the Bethany experience not just for our current students, but for all of our future students.”
Bethany College began working on its USDA loan application in 2016. Over the course of the past 18 months, Rep. David McKinley (WV-1st) and U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Capito assisted Bethany officials in the application process and were instrumental in helping to secure the USDA funding.

About USDA Rural Development
The USDA Rural Development program provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas.
USDA infused $1.5 billion into rural areas in 2017 through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program for projects such as schools, libraries, municipal centers, first responder vehicles and equipment, social service buildings, recreational activities and other community needs. These investments are helping nearly seven million rural residents.
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About Bethany College
Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia.