BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College President Dr. Scott D. Miller recently led a session on the career focus of liberal arts colleges at the Council of Independent Colleges’ Presidents Institute at Marco Island, Fla.
Miller spoke on the topic "Building Value: Linking Classroom to Career,” and explained that future success of private colleges depends on giving students the tools to succeed in careers after they leave the classroom.
“Increasingly, we on campus ask ourselves, what do we offer to give our students realistic career preparation, and how do we market those institutional strengths to today’s shop-around brand of higher education consumer?” Miller asked.
An example of a unique opportunity that Bethany offers, Miller explained, is the McCann Student Investment Fund, created through a $1 million gift to Bethany by graduate Robert McCann, the CEO of UBS Group Americas, and his wife Cindy.
“The fund is entirely student-managed, employing financial strategies with real dollars, in real markets, with real return,” Miller emphasized, adding that specialized internships and career-focused events campus wide also enrich students’ marketability.
Kelly Sofka, a Bethany graduate and Wheeling, W.Va., native, was the first CEO of the fund during her undergraduate studies. Resulting from her experience with the unique investment portfolio, Kelly landed an internship on Wall Street, and now works at UBS.
Miller also discussed the importance of The Bethany Plan, which aids students in identifying with and becoming a part of academic, co-curricular and extracurricular activities. Students can take advantage of global study-abroad trips, career-focused internships and research opportunities. Senior capstone projects and comprehensive examinations round out a student’s education at Bethany.
Miller highlighted other unique Bethany programs, such as the Cooey-Davis Experiential Fellowships, the service-oriented Kalon Scholars, and leadership programs in other academic departments including Communications and Media Arts and Social Work.
He said that employers value students who can adapt to a team environment, meet deadlines and goals, and advance organizational initiatives by thinking globally, not just in a specialized way—all skills that can be attained at liberal arts colleges. Miller was one of three presidents who spoke during the session.
The Presidents Institute is CIC's premier event, bringing presidents of independent colleges and universities together for networking, problem-solving, and sharing of ideas among colleagues leading similar institutions, according to the organization’s website. More than 330 higher education chief executives attend the event.
Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.