BETHANY, W.Va. – After 40 years of service to Bethany College, Senior Vice President Dr. John S. Cunningham, retired on July 1, 2007.
Cunningham came to Bethany in 1967 as Associate Dean of Students and Coordinator of Testing and Counseling. Since then he has held a variety of positions at the College including Head Men’s Soccer Coach, Dean of Students, Dean of Admission, Executive Dean of Students, Vice President for Student Services, Executive Administrative Assistant to the President, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Services and Senior Vice President.
He also taught a course in Leadership Development, was a physical education instructor and a freshman seminar instructor/advisor.
Cunningham was the varsity men’s soccer coach from 1968-2001 and never had a losing season. In1994 he led the team to an NCAA Division III National Championship, the only national championship in Bethany College athletics’ history.
“Forty years’ service to one institution is a significant thing,” said Bethany President G.T. “Buck” Smith. “The fact that so many generations of Bethany students were touched by John’s influence is even more significant. He leaves a rich legacy, for which we shall be ever grateful.”
In 1974 Cunningham established Bethany Soccer Camps for the development and enrichment of youth interested in soccer. The program was incorporated in 1981.
Among his many contributions to the College, Cunningham was involved in the process to build the Soccer Complex that now bears his name, Hoag Field, Robert C. Byrd Health and Wellness Center, Campbell Village Housing Complex, Cummins Community Center and the Thomas Phillips Johnson Recreation Center. In earlier years he worked collaboratively on a tuition reduction program, curriculum reform and a redefined student government.
While serving as Vice President for Enrollment Management, total enrollment reached a 25 year high and new student enrollment one year was second highest since 1978.
Throughout the years Cunningham has served on many Bethany College committees, has been an advisor to numerous clubs and organizations and has provided leadership to both Pan-Hellenic and Interfraternity Councils.
In 1987, on the occasion of his twentieth year of service to Bethany, Cunningham was recognized by the Alumni Association with the Outstanding Service to Bethany College Award. While presenting him the award, Bethany’s then Vice President Robert Sandercox said, “John Cunningham has the exuberance of a youngster and seriousness of purpose of a mature man.”
Prior to coming to Bethany, Cunningham received his Bachelor of Science degree from Slippery Rock State College in 1965 and a Master of Arts from Kent State University in 1967. He later received his Doctor of Education degree from West Virginia University in 1982.
“Bethany has been a wonderful life experience for me and my family. I am blessed to have so many friends and colleagues because of relationships established at Bethany,” said Cunningham. “I never looked at Bethany as a “job” but as a “lifestyle” rich in friends. I thank Bethany College for the opportunity to serve students and alumni for 40 years.”
Cunningham will continue to serve Bethany in a volunteer capacity to conclude a project to honor David “Fuzzy” Williams and other deceased soccer alumni. The establishment of the Bethany Soccer Endowment is an opportunity to ensure the legacy of Bethany Soccer.
A life-long resident of the tri-state area, he and his wife Patricia have three grown children and six grandchildren.