Bethany College Announces Baccalaureate, Commencement Speakers

BETHANY, W.Va. — Two prominent leaders in American higher education have been announced as speakers for the 170th anniversary Commencement Weekend at Bethany College, according to Dr. Scott D. Miller, President of the College.

Dr. Miller has announced Gaston Caperton, former governor of West Virginia and current president of the College Board, as the Commencement speaker on May 15, and Dr. Marylouise Fennell, former president of Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pa., and current Senior Counsel for The Council of Independent Colleges, as the Baccalaureate service speaker on May 14.

A native of West Virginia, Caperton is the recipient of numerous honorary doctoral degrees, including one from Bethany College. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and went on to work for a Charleston, W.Va., insurance agency, eventually becoming its principal owner. The company grew under his leadership to become the nation’s 10th-largest privately owned insurance brokerage firm.

Caperton was elected governor of West Virginia twice and served from 1989 to 1997. Education was a top priority during his time in office, and he is credited with raising teachers’ salaries, improving training for teachers in order to more effectively use technology in the classroom, and supporting programs that led to $800 million in investments for new schools and improvements to existing structures. He received the Computerworld Smithsonian Award in 1996 as a result of his promotion of technological innovations in education. He is also known for improving the West Virginia economy by creating jobs and reducing unemployment.

Building upon his passion for improving educational opportunities for students, he has served as president of the College Board — a not-for-profit membership association composed of more than 5,700 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations — since 1999. The College Board annually serves seven million students and their parents, 23,000 high schools and 3,800 colleges through activities designed to help students successfully initiate and navigate their college careers. The SAT®, the PSAT/NMSQT® and the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) are among the group’s programs.

Caperton was influential in the creation of Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia, a facility that showcases handcrafts, fine art and regional cuisine in Beckley, W.Va. The Tamarack features a retail store, with online shopping available, as well as artisan studios and a fine art gallery. More than 2,800 area artisans have participated in the programs Tamarack offers, and Tamarack has welcomed more than five million visitors through its doors.

Caperton, who has taught at Harvard University and Columbia University, founded and managed the Institute on Education and Government at Columbia University. He has served as chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association and has been a member of the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee on U.S. Trade. The former governor has also worked as chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission, Southern Regional Education Board and the Southern Growth Policy Board.

The Education Commission of the States awarded him the James Bryant Conant Award in 2007, in recognition of his commitment and contributions to the quality of education in the United States. He now lives and works in New York with his wife, Idit Harel Caperton.

Dr. Fennell is known internationally for her work as a consultant who specializes in the field of independent higher education. She serves as a mentor, counselor and consultant to presidents, administrators and boards of trustees of colleges and universities.

Fennell, past president of Carlow University in Pennsylvania, serves as senior counsel for the Council of Independent Colleges, based in Washington, D.C. For nearly 20 years, she has headed the New Presidents Program. She has held both teaching and administrative positions at St. Joseph College and the University of Hartford in Connecticut, as well as Boston University.

Fennell, who has been the chief consultant for the Association of Private Universities of Central America, has worked in more than 20 countries and has received more than 50 honorary doctoral degrees. She serves as executive director of the Inter-American Consortium, a collaboration between six American (including Bethany) and 11 foreign higher educational institutions.

She is extensively published in the areas of accreditation, higher education and leadership and will have two books, co-published with Dr. Miller, released this spring. “President to President: Views on Technology in Higher Education, Volume II” (Council of Independent Colleges/Sungard) will be released in January, and “Presidential Perspectives (Volume IV): Leadership in the Great Depresssion,” (Aramark) is scheduled for publication later in the spring. She is the author of the Central American Accreditation Guidelines for Excellence in Education.

Dr. Fennell was born in Connecticut, and she entered the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas there in 1957. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Diocesan Sisters College, her Master of Education and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study from the University of Hartford, and a Doctoral degree from Boston University. She has done post-doctoral training at institutions such as Harvard University and the University of Connecticut, among others.

Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college. The College held its first Commencement on July 4, 1842.