Bethany President Addresses Pittsburgh Area Alumni at PNC Park

Bethany College President Dr. Scott D. Miller told Pittsburgh area alumni and friends gathered at the Pirates Tour Theatre Tuesday night that despite a "volatile, highly competitive marketplace," West Virginia's oldest degree granting institution is poised for a bright future.

piratesalumnievent.jpg“During these most difficult economic times, our alumni and friends have remained true to Bethany College,” Miller said. “While Bethany College has both historic and excellent facilities, its future depends on the ability to grow and serve the students of tomorrow.  You have responded to the challenge and supported us in so many remarkable ways.”

He expressed appreciation to alumni and friends from the Greater Pittsburgh Area, mentioning a long list of Bethanians who “devote time, energy and their personal resources to the well-being of the College.”  “Our proximity to Pittsburgh (39 miles) positions us extremely well to take advantage of the magnificent learning opportunities and resources here,” he said, “and we’re proud of our strong presence and relationship with this community.”

Among Bethany’s educational partners are dual degree offerings with Duquesne University and Carnegie Mellon University and a unique collaborative in digital communications with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

He noted that fall sports have all reported to “summer camp” and that freshmen and transfer students will arrive on Thursday, August 21, with upperclass students arriving Sunday, August 24.  The College’s traditional Matriculation Ceremony for new students will be held Friday, August 22, at noon in the Tilock Amphitheater of the Pennington Quadrangle. Classes begin for all students on Monday, August 25.

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.  “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.”

Miller highlighted four key areas that will aid in the College’s success:

  • Enrollment:  The College expects 325 new students, including 280 freshmen, 30 transfers and 15 graduate students, maintaining an annual headcount of 1,100 and a residential community of just over 800 this fall. Dr. Miller said that the longer-range goal is to selectively increase the residential population to 925.
  • Finances:  He noted that Bethany has strengthened its Division of Finance with the implementation of a wide variety of higher education best practices, with a goal of increasing total revenues from all sources while demonstrating fiscal responsibility.
  • Resources Acquisition: Announcing that the current phase of its capital campaign has reached the $47 million mark in pledges and gifts, Dr. Miller said the College would expect to achieve its first-phase goal of the final $5 million in support during the current academic year. The campaign, “Transformation Now!”, is funding endowment growth, facility enhancements and current operations including increased scholarship support for students from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states. Later campaign phases will fully fund the College’s strategic plan, which also calls for maximizing use of campus facilities year round to provide additional revenue. Notably, the College’s endowment has grown to $52 million, the best among private colleges in the state.
  • Creating a more student-centered living and learning environment: A recent national feature in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dr. Miller said, profiled 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.

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He recognized Paige Prato ('14), a native of Gibsonia, PA. Paige graduated in May and is a doctoral student at Ohio University attended Tuesday night’s gathering. She is also the Presidents Athletic Conference nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year. 

Dr. Miller also spoke on the College’s heritage as West Virginia’s oldest degree-granting institution. Bethany 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.  He concluded the gathering by sharing a moving 175th anniversary video produced by Bethany alum Jeff Flick ('82) of Pittsburgh.