Bethany Department Chairs Named for 2014-15

Eleven members of the Bethany College faculty have been named academic department chairs for 2014-15, according to Dr. Scott D. Miller, President of the College.

 “As the oldest degree granting institution in West Virginia, Bethany College has a long-recognized tradition of outstanding teaching,”  Dr. Miller said.  “We appreciate the hard work and strong leadership of our academic department chairs in support of the mission and purpose of the College. Building on 175 years of rich tradition, classical, liberal arts programs, innovative partnerships, and a supportive residential environment, Bethany College continues to be extremely attractive to a national constituency.”

 According to Dr. Miller, academic department chairs for the coming year are:

 Biology Dr. William Hicks (Professor of Biology)

Business, Communications & Media Arts – Professor M. E. Yancosek Gamble (Assistant Professor of Communications and Media Arts)

Education Dr. Sherri Theaker (Associate Professor of Education)

History & Political Science Dr. Steven Carelli (Associate Professor of History)

Humanities Dr. Harald Menz (Professor of World Languages and Cultures) and Dr. Brooke Deal (Thomas W. Phillips Chair of Religious Studies and Associate Professor of Religious Studies)

• Physical Education & Sports Studies – Professor Janice Forsty (Associate Professor of Physical Education)

Physical and Computational Science Dr. Lisa Reilly (The Goulding-Woolery Professor in Chemistry and Associate Professor of Chemistry)

Psychology Dr. Katrina D’Aquin (Associate Professor of Psychology)

Social Work – Professor Kathy Shelek-Furbee (Professor of Social Work), and

Visual & Performing Arts –Professor Luke Hardt (Associate Professor of Theatre)

The academic department chairs report to Dr. David W. Ewing, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty.  Dr. D’Aquin also serves as Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs. 

The chairs lead the implementation of the mission driven programs with an emphasis on core requirements of The Bethany Plan.  Bethany is the only institution in West Virginia categorized as a national liberal arts college. 

The College has gained wide recognition as a leader among classical residential liberal arts colleges.  Dr. Miller 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 – “Building Value:  Linking Classroom to Career.”  He noted that this has been a topic of interest to Bethany’s constituents as he and Senior Vice President Sven de Jong travel the country visiting with alumni and friends. 

“The future success of private colleges depends on giving students the tools to succeed in careers after they leave the classroom,” Miller said.  “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. That fund has grown to $1.5 million.

He added that specialized internships and career-focused events campus wide also enrich students’ marketability. 

Miller also discussed the importance of a hallmark of the College, 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. 

“We all have 168 hours in a week,” he said.  “A typical student will devote 18 hours per week to classroom activities and sleep between 42 and 50 hours per week.  At a residential liberal arts college, we partner with students for learning activities for the remaining 100 hours.  This might be athletics or recreation, a campus job, a fraternity or sorority, or service learning.  This is what The Bethany Plan is all about.”

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.

The College was recently featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education for its focus on a student-centered learning environment. In recent years Bethany has received national recognition for quality and cost from U.S. News and World Report, Barron’s, Washington Monthly, Forbes, Princeton Review and Colleges of Distinction. Last year, the College was ranked seventh in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in the percentage of graduates to attend graduate school within one year of graduation.

The College traces its origins to the founding of Buffalo Seminary at what was then Bethany, Virginia, in 1818, Miller said. The institution counts 1840 as its founding as a degree-granting college.  Located on a beautiful, historic, 1,300-acre campus of 45 buildings in the wooded foothills of the Allegheny Mountains 39 miles from Pittsburgh, Bethany enrolled 1,100 students (headcount) in 2013-14.  The College anticipates selectively growing the traditional population from its current level of approximately 800 to 900 by 2017. An additional 300 students enroll in continuing education programs each year through Bethany’s re-established Buffalo Seminary.