BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College President Scott D. Miller welcomed Charlotte, North Carolina, as the newest alumni group during a reception/dinner at Dressler’s Restaurant Tuesday night.
Dr. Miller noted that the Charlotte area is the 18th alumni and friends organization from throughout the United States.
“Bethanians love their College,” Dr. Miller said. “As I travel the country visiting with alumni and friends, I am impressed by the passion that our graduates have for their alma mater. Bethany College is – without a doubt – a lifetime experience.”
He mentioned Homecoming (October 10-12), Founder’s Day (March 5) and Alumni Weekend (May 1-3) as major on-campus events attended by alumni, but said the 18 off-campus gatherings enable interactions with large numbers of Bethanians a greater distance from the campus. California, Florida, Texas, New York, Georgia, Colorado, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, Illinois, Tennessee, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Arizona have all hosted similar events in the recent past.
He expressed appreciation to a number of area alumni for their active involvement and leadership. “Many of you devote significant time, energy and personal resources to the well-being of the College and we are forever thankful.”
“Over 3,200 individuals and organizations – including 38 percent of our alumni -- have contributed over $48 million to the largest fund- raising initiative in Bethany history,” Dr. Miller said. “To contribute that amount during two of the most significant economic downturns in our country’s history is a major statement of support in the people and programs of Bethany College.”
Dr. Miller spoke to the “changing world of higher education in America,” but added, “You can be proud that Bethany has remained true to its mission. We strive to be a classical, residential, liberal arts college committed to teaching and student success, a place where academics and student life complement each other, for we recognize that learning takes many forms, both inside and outside the classroom.”
In addition to providing an update on recent progress at West Virginia’s oldest degree-granting institution, he noted that a recent national feature in The Chronicle of Higher Education 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.
Dr. Miller said the College has expanded student-support services, earning 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 is the only private National Liberal Arts College in West Virginia, and in recent years 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.
Dr. 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.”
Now in his 24th year as a college president and seventh year at Bethany, Dr. Miller provided updates on a number of projects and initiatives:
Dr. Miller also commented on the College’s highly competitive NCAA Division III athletic program, which fields 22 teams and an equestrian club team – the largest number of sports on any college campus in the state. Women’s volleyball won its fourth consecutive ECAC Championship with a varsity roster that included six students with perfect 4.0 grade point averages and a team GPA of 3.4. Men’s basketball finished 21-6, winning the PAC regular season crown and a top seed in the PAC and ECAC Tournament. The Bethany Equestrian Center at Oglebay Resort has had significant upgrades as a result of generous support from many.
He then addressed the topic of institutional growth, outlining plans to grow the residential population by about 100.
“In this challenging higher education environment, we can’t rely on doing things the old way,” Dr. Miller said. “We can’t just pass the cost on to students. Expanding the residential population will create greater critical mass, greater diversity and increased resources. It will also be attractive to alumni and donors.”
He closed with comments about the College’s “golden past and bright future,” noting that Bethany celebrates 175 years in 2014-15.
“We’re 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.” The College reports over 22,000 alumni.
He also announced major speakers for the 175th year, noting that all are Bethany graduates: