Bethany College Celebrates 176 Years During Founder’s Day

Rodenberg_FoundersDay_16WEB.jpgBETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College celebrated Founder’s Day with events on campus Thursday, March 3. This year’s program honored the College’s 176 years as a small college of national distinction.

Dr. Tamara Nichols Rodenberg — Bethany’s recently appointed President — addressed those in attendance in historic Commencement Hall.

“Alexander Campbell, our founder, envisioned that upon graduation, students would become their own teacher and pupil and continue their education throughout life,” said Rodenberg, speaking on the history of Bethany College.

“There are some glories, to be sure, over the years, but we the faculty and staff are unwilling to rest our future merely dwelling on, as Bruce Springsteen eloquently sang, our ‘glory days,’” stated Rodenberg. “Rather, we go forward by way of the looking to the backroad.”

In her speech, Rodenberg reflected on the importance of knowing where Bethany has come from and where it is going. “Our history is rich and deep. While we have but one beginning, we have many roots. Every graduate and every faculty member – anyone who has been part of the Bethany family is a root. While we cannot predict what will change, we know change is inevitable,” said Rodenberg. “By preparing our students for the world they will transform, Bethany will be a force for good.”

Rodenberg, who began her tenure as Bethany’s 20th president on January 1, 2016, had previously served as the Vice President of Advancement at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University.

As Vice President for Advancement at Brite Divinity School at TCU, Rodenberg headed a team of advancement officers who have successfully completed major fundraising initiatives to enrich the permanent endowment and the annual operating budget. She lead Brite into a celebration of Brite Divinity Schools Centennial that will fund faculty chairs, create new scholarships and stipends for students, and expand cross-cultural education and travel immersion experiences. 

Prior to her arrival at Brite in 2011, Rodenberg completed a two-year intentional interim presidency at the Disciples Seminary Foundation, Claremont, California. Under her leadership, the Foundation increased its endowment, instituted new financial controls, converted the donor tracking process, changed investment advisors, and emerged with one of the institution’s first successful audits.

Following the event, a wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Campbell Cemetery in remembrance of Campbell (1788-1866), the College’s founder and first president. Prior to the ceremony, Dr. Arthur B. Keys Jr., trustee of Bethany College, spoke of the legacy of Alexander Campbell, on the 150th anniversary of Campbell’s death.

“The Sage of Bethany, Alexander Campbell, was a man who was larger than life, even though he lived in a small village, Bethany, Virginia,” said Keys. “He helped shape American culture and religion. And he still speaks to us today.”

Founder’s Day at Bethany College is observed on the first Thursday of March. The College received its official charter from the Legislature of Virginia March 2, 1840. The charter was affirmed June 20, 1863, by the Legislature of the newly formed state of West Virginia.

Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.