A Small College of National Distinction
A monthly communiqué from
Dr. Scott D. Miller
President of the College
If you would like to contact
please write him at:
110 Old Main
Bethany, WV 26032
Two Homecomings Reveal the Faith of Our Founders
Another Homecoming Weekend at Bethany has come and gone. This year, October 7-9, we enjoyed summer-like weather as alumni and friends gathered to renew friendships and share memories.
We hosted another successful Hugh “Tiger” Joyce Golf Scramble benefiting Bethany athletics and the Allison’s Run/Walk that underwrites the student prize named in memory of Professor James Allison ‘64. We inducted four new members into the Bethany Athletic Hall of Fame: Rudolph Frank ’77, baseball; Brian Dickman ’95, football/track; Brian Taylor ’98, tennis/golf, and Amy Harvilla Rocini ’01, soccer.
Eight alumni from print and broadcast media joined the Wall of Fame at the Department of Communications and Media Arts in Bethany House: Michael Christman ’88; Scarlett Foster ‘79; Kurt Franck ’78; Peter Jensen ’81; Rick Kenney ’80; Matt Mastrangelo ’87; Gene Miller ’47; and Toria Tolley ’78.
An amazing exhibit, “Science Becomes Art: A Galapagos Islands Experience,” was on display at Renner Art Gallery. This collection of photographs and memorabilia from a Bethany College student and faculty research trip impressed viewers with the scientific significance and other-worldly beauty of the Galapagos.
Although our travels as Bethanians may take us far from campus, even to Pacific waters off Ecuador, all roads eventually lead us back to our mountaintop home. The irresistible pull of their alma mater continues to captivate Bethany alumni in ways they can hardly anticipate as undergraduates.
A very special homecoming for me was delivering the keynote address at the October 14 Founders Day convocation of my alma mater, West Virginia Wesleyan College. For the Wesley Chapel audience of fellow alumni, friends, faculty, and current students convened by my talented colleague President Pamela Balch, former Vice President for Academic Affairs at Bethany, I described the transformational experience of attending a small, church-related college. These institutions are defined by the courageous faith and work of founders who foresaw the lasting value of independent higher education. Traditions such as Founders Day at our two colleges, I said, are opportunities to affirm our promises of continuity to those who have gone before us, and conveyed to us the gift of their trust, their labor, and their dreams.
During my recent time on the campus where I had first arrived in August of 1977 as an anxious freshman, I visited with Bethanians William B. Grove ’51, Bishop of the West Virginia Area of the United Methodist Church, retired; Elizabeth Weimer ’42 and Dan Martin ’73, former and current members, respectively, of the Wesleyan faculty, and the man who had recruited me more than three decades ago to the Wesleyan cross-country team, coach Hank Ellis. It had occurred to me that alumni of Wesleyan, Bethany, and other vibrant colleges tend to carry with them a sort of passport of their onetime campus identity. We may become citizens of our nation and world during the course of our lives, but somehow we always remain, first and foremost, citizens of our undergraduate experiences. I had referenced this during my convocation address, and later experienced it in the warm handshakes and embraces of those who had shared — and helped to shape — my undergraduate journey.
Coming “home” to my alma mater is always more than a sentimental journey. It is a continuation of the exploration of who I am. The friendships I developed during my college years have impacted my life and career in profound ways. I am sure the same is true for Bethany’s alumni for whom our small college is an anchor of their lives, as our founder intended.
The world is often a place in turmoil; during the last few years, a faltering economy, high unemployment, and disenchantment with institutions have replaced confidence with uncertainty. Yet each autumn our colleges roll out the welcome of Homecoming, renewing the precious ties of graduates to one of the most influential, reliable, and enduring forces in their existence. Alumni faithfully return to a place that will always be there for them — in Bethany, Buckhannon, or wherever the college-nurtured mind and spirit converge in memory and experience. Such was the Homecoming experience of our Bethanians early in October and for me, a week later, at Wesleyan.
Accompanying us—indeed, directing us—on the journey of our lives is that special time and place of our undergraduate years, all too fleeting, yet forever memorable, and certainly irreplaceable.
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