A Small College of Truly National Distinction
Although Bethany College has long inspired our national colleagues in higher education, it’s not often that one of our programs lands on the desk of the President of the United States. Thus, it came as a special source of pride to learn from a leading advocacy organization for independent higher education, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), that Bethany’s PASS (Program for Academic and Social Success) is one of eight chosen for wider recognition.
Twenty years after Bethany College instituted services for students with special needs, PASS was cited from more than 100 responses submitted in the Association’s recent College Access and Success survey as among the “most unique, innovative, and effective examples of programs making a difference in recruiting and supporting underserved students.”
Limited to 10 percent of the Bethany student body, the distinctive PASS Program’s outcomes include an impressive 85% overall year-to-year retention rate from 2006-2009. NAICU recently shared information on Bethany’s model with White House staff implementing President Obama’s goal of making America the nation with the world's highest proportion of college graduates by 2020.
Of the many indicators of higher-education distinction, access to college and high graduation rates are near the top of the list. Since its inception as the first four-year college in what is now West Virginia and one of just a handful in the entire region in the mid-19th century, Bethany has always offered exemplary enrollment access. Our founder, Alexander Campbell, was a leading proponent of expanding educational opportunity. More recently, the College has affirmed that tradition of opportunity to underserved students through the PASS Program, an outgrowth of developmental studies which began in the 1989-90 academic year, evolved into fundamental studies, and then, in 2008, expanded to include the Bridge Program, focusing on individualized academic preparation.
In 2007 the McCann Learning Center was established as the central location to assist students with a variety of special needs. With services including instruction in multisensory language, learning strategies, and time management and organization, the Center is led by Dr. Christina Sampson and a staff of six full- and part-time learning specialists. Student participants meet several times weekly with trained instructors and may also take part in support groups and social coaching.
Recognized among Bethany’s strengths in the comprehensive 2009 Institutional Review, our learning support programs as well as the McCann Learning Center which houses them were lauded by NAICU among those initiatives which make us “a vital and very promising liberal arts college.”
Further, in the words of NAICU president David Warren, Bethany’s efforts demonstrate what we already know -- that private colleges and universities have an exemplary success rate in student retention and graduation.
As we celebrate these accomplishments, we also are pleased to see that 122 students made the Dean’s List last semester, while the names of 53 students appeared on the President’s List. Such recognition is indicative of Bethany’s emphasis on academic achievement, as well as our attention to helping students chart their personal pathways to career and life success.
As the North Central Association accrediting team noted in its March 2009 visit, Bethany is first and foremost about investing in excellence. A major part of Bethany’s mission is to engage students in aggressive programs of internships and other state-of-the-art career exposure which will help them flourish as mobile, employable, and global citizens who will be prepared for lifelong leadership and service regardless of the direction of their career paths. Thus, it is rewarding when our approach to learning is validated by a highly respected external organization such as NAICU—and, moreover, offered as an educational model to the White House.
As we celebrate Founder’s Day this month, our early leaders would be proud to see their vision of inclusion affirmed more than 170 years later. Even more significant, our campus community in 2010 can draw enormous satisfaction from the continuing aspirations and achievements of our students, and the national significance that accompanies their success.
Scott D. Miller, Ph.D.
President of the College
To see Dr. Miller's biography:
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