Bethany Academic Vice President Discusses
College Accomplishments, Opportunities

DAquinWEB.jpgBETHANY, W.Va. – Dr. Katrina D’Aquin speaks with enthusiasm when discussing accomplishments and opportunities for the academic programs at Bethany College.  The new Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty is no stranger to the position, having served as the acting Vice President for much of the past year. 
 
Speaking from her office in iconic Old Main in the heart of the Bethany campus, D’Aquin enthusiastically speaks of faculty accomplishments, program strengths, and opportunities for the future.
 
“It's an honor to be asked to be the chief academic officer of an outstanding institution,” said Dr. D’Aquin, a long-time member of the Bethany faculty.  “When Dr. Miller (Bethany President Scott D. Miller) asked me to fill the position on an acting basis a year ago, I accepted because I was familiar with the wonderful people I would be working with.  That includes an experienced, nationally respected President, his senior cabinet, devoted administrative staff and our talented faculty.” 
 
“These are challenging times in American higher education,”  she said.  “Dr. Miller has done a remarkable job of leading Bethany to a position of financial stability, qualitative growth, strong community engagement and enhanced national reputation during tough times.  I look forward to working with him and our leadership team as we advance the next phase of the long-range strategic plan, Bethany 2020.”
 
As the Vice President, she will be the College’s chief academic officer, responsible for establishing academic priorities and overseeing the 11 academic departments, the libraries, the McCann Learning Center, the Office of International Studies and the Registrar’s Office.
 
Dr. D'Aquin came to Bethany in 2006 as a member of the psychology faculty and has served as Director of the First Year Experience, Chair of the Psychology Department and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs.  She has also taught at Seton Hill University, Ohio University-Eastern, Washington & Jefferson College, and the University of Pittsburgh. She hopes to continue teaching as time permits; she is also the Sarah B. Cochran Professor of Psychology.
 
Dr. D’Aquin received her B.A. degree from Siena College, in Loudonville, NY, where she majored in psychology, and earned a minor in Ancient Greek. She then attended the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in social psychology.
 
In her first interview since assuming the position on a permanent basis, she provided a variety of updates on a number of topics:

  • Faculty Accomplishments: Dr. Harald Menz, Professor of World Languages and Culture, has been named a finalist for West Virginia’s 2014 Professor of the Year; Dr. Menz has also received an Appalachian College Association Faculty Fellowship to partially fund a sabbatical in Italy next year; Dr. Anju Ramjee, The John F. and Evelyn Casey Steen Professor of Finance, has been recognized with the International Association of College and University Presidents Faculty Achievement Award; Dr. Lisa Reilly, The Goulding-Woolery Professor of Chemistry, has been named to the Board of Directors of the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium and was recognized as a national nominee in the U.S. Professors of the Year Award competition.
  • Globalization: This spring a new agreement with Webster University was signed, opening study-abroad possibilities for students through Webster's programs in 11 countries around the world. The Webster program, coupled with the College's relationship with Arcadia University, brings over 75 new opportunities to Bethany's international portfolio.  Dr. D'Aquin also will oversee new partnerships with selective high schools in China. 
  • Student-Leader Trip to NYC: She commented on a unique opportunity for Bethany students that occurred in the second week of October 2014. Trustee Vice Chair Dr. Robert McCann ('80), CEO of UBS Group Americas, sponsored a trip to New York City for 25 student leaders to tour Wall Street financial institutions and meet with corporate executives. Students from the McCann Student Investment Fund, Bethany's unique $1.5 million portfolio managed exclusively by students interested in business-related careers, were a prominent part of the leadership group.
  • Student Volunteer Service: Bethany College is one of just 98 colleges and universities nationwide to be named to the 2014 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its leadership in developing programs in interfaith and community service. This is the third time in the last four years that Bethany has earned this distinction. Additionally, Bethany is the only college or university in West Virginia to obtain this distinction in three categories – the general category, the education category, and the interfaith category.
  • Dual-Degree Programs: As a national liberal arts college, Bethany has expanded educational partnerships with prominent national universities. The College offers collaborative undergraduate/graduate opportunities with Columbia University, Duquesne University, Case Western Reserve University and Carnegie Mellon University as well as a unique collaborative in digital communications with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Bethany's innovative partnerships with some of the top institutions in America have significantly expanded student opportunity.
  • The McCann Learning Center: Housing the PASS, Beth Bridge and tutoring programs, the McCann Learning Center is important to student achievement. The Center was recognized by the Washington, DC-based National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities as one of eight innovative programs nationally to assure student success.
  • Society for Collegiate Journalists (SCJ) National Conference: The College hosted the Society for Collegiate Journalists National Conference October 2-4. Distinguished national speakers in journalism, media and communications fields were invited, most of whom were Bethany alumni. Bethany's SCJ chapter received top honors as National Chapter of the Year during the conference.
  • Collaboration: Bethany benefits from academic collaboration in the 35 member Appalachian College Association (ACA); state-of-the-art technology through membership in the eight institution Independent College Enterprise (ICE); and, library and learning resources through a partnership with the Bowen Central Virtual Library of Appalachia.
  • The Larry Grimes Lecture Series Endowment: Spearheaded by the Bethany Alumni Council, the endowment has passed $110,000 in contributions with the first lecture presented October 11 during Homecoming. Dr. Grimes delivered the address titled "Eros, Thanatos, Hemingway, Jesus and Me." He is the editor of a recent scholarly book on Ernest Hemingway's years in Cuba.

Dr. D'Aquin 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.  The Bethany Plan is a defining characteristic of a Bethany College education, she noted.
 
She noted that Dr. Miller and Bethany were recently featured in "The Chronicle of Higher Education" for Bethany's commitment to student-centeredness, reflecting the College's initiatives during the past seven years to serving the changing needs and expectations of today's college students and their families.  Bethany’s president has expanded student-support services, earning widespread national recognition. He led a Council of Independent Colleges national conference session early last spring on the career focus of liberal arts colleges. The theme of the session was "Building Value: Linking Classroom to Career."
 
"Bethany College has a remarkable history as a top tier, classical, residential national liberal arts college,”  Dr. D’Aquin said.  “We're extremely proud of our heritage as West Virginia's oldest degree-granting institution. We trace our origins to the founding of Buffalo Seminary at what was then Bethany, Virginia, in 1818. However, we count 1840 as our founding as a degree-granting college. This academic year, we proudly begin the celebration of 175 years and will do so with a distinguished group of prominent Bethanians as featured speakers.”
Spring speakers include:

  • Kalon Scholars: Elizabeth Verrier '96, Vice President and Senior Counsel, American Express
  • Founder's Day: David Jolliffe '74, Brown Chair in English Literature, University of Arkansas
  • Darline Nicholson May Morning Breakfast: Gina DeBlasis Kinder '00, Coordinating Producer, Pikewood Creative
  • Baccalaureate: Rev. Juan Rodriguez '79, Regional Minister, Christian Church
  • Commencement: Dr. Robert McCann '80, CEO for the Americas, UBS Wealth Management

Dr. D’Aquin admits that serving first as Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and then in the acting capacity peaked her interest in senior leadership. She was chosen as one of 32 mid-level administrators in higher education nationwide by Washington, D.C.-based Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to participate in the year-long Senior Leadership Academy.
 
At the time of her nomination for the program, she was Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Psychology.  Individuals chosen for the program are administrators in higher education who have been identified by their institutions as having the potential for senior leadership positions in independent colleges or universities. D’Aquin participated in an SLA Seminar in Portland, Oregon, in late October, and will attend another in Washington, DC, in June. She has also undertaken a mentoring program, work with experts, participate in webinars, and engage in a series of readings and case studies.
 
According to CIC, the purpose of the Academy is to prepare prospective leaders to assume positions as the chief officers in any division—including academic affairs, student affairs, finance, enrollment management, and advancement—in independent higher education.
 
The Academy is co-sponsored by CIC and the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI) with financial support from Academic Search, Inc., and the Henry Luce Foundation. Tom Kepple, president of AALI and president emeritus of Juniata College (PA), is the program director.
 
“This program provided a great opportunity,” D’Aquin said.  “I’m fortunate to be able to apply what I have learned at a College I admire so much.”
 
Dr. D’Aquin and her husband, Clay, currently reside in New Stanton, PA, and will live in historic Highland Hearth, the Dean’s Residence, on the Bethany campus.  Daughter Erika was a 2014 honors graduate of Bethany College and received the prestigious Leonora Balla Cayard Prize and The John R. Taylor Award in the Liberal Arts.