BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College installed Rev. Dr. Tamara Nichols Rodenberg as the College’s 20th President at the formal presidential inauguration on Friday, October 7.
The traditional ceremony, which took place in Commencement Hall, featured remarks from a broad assortment of prominent academic and religious leaders. Dr. Victor J. Boschini, Jr., Chancellor of Texas Christian University, delivered the formal address, which was titled “Gathering-In Life at Bethany College in Celebration of Dr. Tamara Nichols Rodenberg.”
“In this inauguration setting, I feel a special sense today. There’s a sense of special history, a sense of hope and a sense of renewed excitement,” Boschini said. “Bethany has a long history, a 176-year history. What I see in the facts and symbols of Bethany’s story is not just the passage of time, but the passing forward of core values that inform the founding of this College that defines its mission and shape its graduates still today.”
Bob McCann, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, gave the welcome, while Gary Novak, Chair of Bethany’s Presidential Search Committee and Board of Trustees member, introduced the President.
Gregory B. Jordan, Chair of the Board of Trustees, presented Rodenberg with the symbols of her new office and administered the formal charge.
“The Board of Trustees believes that the future of Bethany College is bright and its place in the academic world secure,” Jordan said. “We envision the influence of the College enlarged, its program strengthened and its high purposes fused into a shining unity.
Tamara Rodenberg, you have heard the charge and, because you have accepted publicly these responsibilities, I now entrust you with the great seal of Bethany College and proclaim to all those who come in contact with this historic old College that you are indeed the duty elected and properly installed twentieth President of Bethany College.”
Other distinguished speakers welcoming the College’s new President included Rev. Gary Kidwell, President of the Christian Church Foundation; Dr. Chris Dorsey, President of the Higher Education Leadership Ministries; Dr. D. Newell Williams, President of Brite Divinity School; and Regional Coordinator for the United States Senator Joe Manchin III. Dr. Patrick Sutherland, Mayor of Bethany, gave the Town proclamation, while members of Bethany’s faculty, students and staff gave greetings. Dr. Rodenberg also gave a response and challenge to those in attendance.
“To all in attendance, thank you. It is an understatement to say that I am honored to stand here before you. I do so with the recognition that I am one of many on whom the future of this school matters. One of many whom the future depends on,” Rodenberg said.
Today, I call on all of you, all of us at Bethany to keep her strong. The strong legacy, the strong reputation of excellence is in front of us. There is work to do, for certain; however, we have inherited a story, a history, and a future that is worth the life effort for our next chapter.”
The invocation was delivered by Bethany Board of Trustees member Rev. Dr. Janet Long. Rev. Scott Thayer, Chaplin of the College, gave the benediction while special music was provided by Judy Allison.
More than 25 academic institutions sent delegates to the event and letters of congratulations were received from a plethora of colleges and universities. The flags of 26 states, nine countries, two military branches and eight Greek organizations were carried by students in the colorful processional, signifying the diversity of the Bethany student body. The delegates and students were joined in the opening march by the Board of Trustees, faculty and officers of the College. A reception was held in the Ogden Dining Room in Benedum Commons following the ceremony.
Dr. Rodenberg became Bethany’s President on January 1, 2016. Previously, she served as Brite’s Vice President for Advancement at Texas Christian University. Prior to her arrival at Brite in 2011, she completed a two-year intentional interim presidency at the Disciples Seminary Foundation in Claremont, California. From 2006 to 2009, she served the Foundation as Dean for Southern California.
She also served as a missionary in Swaziland of the Common Global Ministries Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, as a congregational minister in Kentucky and California, and as a campus minister at the University of Kentucky.
In addition to her ministry, Rodenberg has served as the Disciples Representative to the International Peace Commission of the World Council of Churches and served as a member of the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches.
She received her Bachelor of Arts from Texas Christian University, Master of Divinity from the Lexington Theological Seminary and her Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union. She also completed Directed Research from United Theological College in South India and from Ecumenical Institute in Switzerland.
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.