A Small College of National Distinction

 

The
President's
Letter

July, 2011

A monthly communiqué from
Dr. Scott D. Miller
President of the College

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to contact
Dr. Miller,
please write him at:

Bethany College
110 Old Main
Bethany, WV 26032

or

smiller@bethanywv.edu

Reflecting on What
We Have Done—and Need to Do

July marks the mid-point of the summer for most of us.   At Bethany College, this also means the start of a new fiscal year.  In less than two months, faculty will return to greet the next generation of  Bethanians. 

While the Independence Day weekend gives Americans a chance to celebrate a historical milestone in the life of the nation, for our College it provides an opportunity to reflect on its golden past and a future filled with possibility and promise. This weekend provides an opportune time to put into context the extraordinary history of this state’s oldest degree-granting institution. 

Much as college students often reflect on their Bethany experience at graduation, these past four years have passed quickly for me personally. I am especially appreciative of our exceptional Board of Trustees for its collective wisdom and counsel, our talented administrative team for its leadership and our remarkable faculty for providing an educational program second to none.  Within the last few months, the College has earned many regional and national accolades, and it is the tireless work of these stellar groups that makes Bethany the superior college it is today. 

Our recent recognition as a member of the President’s Community Service Honor Roll, the first time we have earned this recognition, deserves special mention.  Kathy Furbee, Chair and Professor of Social Work, has provided outstanding leadership of our Kalon Scholars program and new Service Learning Center.  As a testament to the enduring value of a residential liberal arts college, our students are learning valuable lessons about humanity and giving back to their communities.

As I read a recent draft of what will be the summer issue of Bethany Today, I was impressed by the quality and accomplishments of the next generation of Bethany faculty who find personal and professional satisfaction here.  In recent years, four Bethany faculty legends—Professors Randy Cooey, Jay Buckelew, Larry Grimes and Robyn Cole—have retired from teaching after 40 years of service each to the College.  (Larry is continuing in an administrative post as Director of Church Relations.)  Several other faculty members have retired with more than 30 years of service.

Dr. Darin E. Fields, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, and his colleagues have recruited exceptionally well-qualified candidates to join the next generation of Bethany scholars.  Our younger faculty members are, among other noteworthy activities, chairing the Curriculum Committee, directing the First Year Experience Program and publishing well-received novels.

Our greatest strength lies in our students. The current population is reported to be the most diverse in Bethany College history, and the academic profile of the incoming class is the finest in 11 years. Further, the total of new students in each of the past three years represents the largest incoming classes since the mid-1970s.  Finally, total enrollment of 1,020 is the largest since 1976-77.  Clearly the outstanding reputation of our College is spreading rapidly!

I always invite our graduating students to return to campus often. But I also emphasize that alumni and friends before them have provided the financial resources to underwrite the advantages they and future Bethanians need to thrive and succeed.  During the past four years, alumni participation in giving has increased from 17 to 23 percent, while total dollars contributed to The Bethany Fund have been record-setting. One hundred percent of our Board of Trustees and Alumni Council contribute financially to the College.

Equally impressive is the 64 percent contribution rate of full-time faculty and staff. Thanks to the gifts of alumni and friends, our capital campaign has passed the $35 million mark after just three years. Contributions from Bethanians worldwide have funded important projects in recent years in the vital areas of capital improvements, endowment and operations.

Although the numbers are impressive, we must still increase our alumni participation rate to at least 35 percent—the national standard for like institutions.  And although we now can claim the largest endowment of any private college in West Virginia, ranking among the top 13 percent in the country, it pales in comparison to that of our national peer institutions.  Increasing endowment must be a priority. 

Private support in all areas of the College is instrumental in shaping Bethany's future. The operation of a small college of national distinction is dependent upon the widespread support of alumni, parents and friends. Bethany's future is a vibrant one, but we can only reach our full potential through the generosity of others.

Your gifts to The Bethany Fund enrich the life of Bethany by expanding  scholarship and financial aid offerings, upgrading computer and lab equipment, strengthening the library and providing access to worldwide electronic technology.  This summer, a private gift is funding a $400,000 upgrade to our dining facilities—including the Ogden Dining Hall, Boomer’s and the Bethany Beanery.  Each of these improvements is necessary to provide our students with contemporary services they need and expect, and to keep the College competitive in recruiting.
         
Although many colleges have changed their focus, Bethany has remained true to its mission as a high quality, classical, residential liberal arts college.  This is what we have been since our inception—true to our mission of providing a first-class education “in an atmosphere of study, work and service.”  With your continuing support, we will enjoy an equally vibrant future.

Enjoy your summer—and come back to visit early and often!

To see Dr. Miller's biography:
www.bethanywv.edu/about-bethany/president-and-college-leadership/

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