Bookending this frenetic spring season at Bethany are the Spring Honors Convocation and Commencement weekend. The former, which we celebrated on April 14, gives us the opportunity to celebrate the many outstanding individuals within the Bethany College family.
As we stood in a packed Commencement Hall, I was “beaming like a proud parent,” to borrow the words of one faculty member, as many of our highest-achieving students prepare to leave our campus to take their places among the ranks of noteworthy Bethany alumni.
Among exemplary students recognized with the Francis O. Carfer Prize as Outstanding Senior was chemistry major Lindsay A. Sobotka, daughter of Jerry and Nancy Sobotka, of Weirton, WV. The Prize is presented to the senior who, in the judgment of the Honors Committee, has made the most outstanding contribution to the College. Lindsay earned this high honor by exhibiting sound academic accomplishments, along with loyalty, service, and devotion to Bethany.
April M. O’Brien, a senior communications major, received the Bethany 2000 Prize recognizing the senior who has best demonstrated loyalty and commitment to Bethany College in a wide range of activities over the course of her studies. The recipient must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher while displaying the characteristics of enthusiasm, dependability, and dedication. April is the daughter of Patrick and Lea Ann O’Brien of Columbus, OH.
Among other top student awardees, Alyssa M. Schrecengost, a business administration major, received the Pittsburgh Bethany College Club Award as Outstanding Junior Woman. Alyssa is the daughter of Tom and Diane Schrecengost of Wexford, PA. The award is based on the qualities of leadership, character, conduct, and scholarship. Comprised of Bethany alumni in the Pittsburgh area, the Club has placed a plaque in Phillips Hall, upon which Alyssa’s name will be engraved, joining those of previous awardees. Among her activities is serving as CFO of the McCann Family Student Investment Fund, established by Dr. Robert ’80 and Cindy McCann.
Alexander C. Stubbs, a business administration major, was awarded the W. F. Kennedy Prize as Outstanding Junior Man. He is the son of Rhonda Stubbs of Follansbee, WV. The prize, established by Mr. Kennedy of Wheeling, is awarded on the basis of the student’s contribution to the College community life through leadership in activities, personal character, and scholarship. He has participated as portfolio manager of the McCann Family Student Investment Fund.
It is always a special privilege for me to present The President’s Awards for Excellence in Performance to members of the Bethany faculty and the staff who have given service and leadership “above and beyond.” Dr. Albert “Jay” R. Buckelew, Professor of Biology, received the faculty award at this year’s Honors Convocation following 42 years of service. Rebecca A. Rose, Director of Communications, received the staff award. Becky is a 2001 alumna of Bethany who returned to work with the Media Relations office in 2005. She was named Director of Communications in April 2008. Graduating with a B.A. degree in communication with a concentration in public relations, she was an active member of PRSSA, also serving as advertising and business manager for the Tower and as operations manager and promotions director for WVBC 88.1FM. Becky resides in Bethany with her husband, Brian, '98, who serves as Sports Information Director in the Athletic Department.
This Commencement will be the last for Jay, who is retiring, along with Professor Randy Cooey, who is also retiring after 44 years of dedicated service and teaching excellence. Heartfelt thanks go to both for their legacy in educating thousands of students and making countless other contributions to Bethany during their time here.
This year’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee banquet featured as speaker John Somsky ’71. He reflected on the importance of his Bethany College education in his life as a coach and corporate executive. It was also an occasion to recap the year’s athletic contests and support those competing in spring sports.
Commencement 2011 will have two noteworthy speakers, beginning with the May 13 Baccalaureate principal address by the Rev. Dr. Todd A. Adams. Bethany’s historic relationship with its sponsoring denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is an important part of our heritage. The establishment of Buffalo Seminary of Bethany College and renewed emphasis on revitalizing our historic Church-College partnership represent an ongoing part of the mission that defines Bethany.
Thus, it will be a special privilege to welcome Dr. Adams, Associate General Minister and Vice President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. Dr. Adams also serves as chief of staff for the General Minister and President, The Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, who was our Baccalaureate speaker in 2009.
Todd’s main areas of responsibility include the General Assembly, the General Board, Disciples Mission Fund and Promotion, Treasury Services, Stewardship Ministries, and Communication Ministries. In addition, he is the liaison to the Christian Church Foundation, Pension Fund, Church Extension, Wilshire Christian Church Foundation, and the National City Christian Church Foundation.
Todd recently served as the Senior Minister of Memorial Drive Christian Church in Houston, TX. During his seven years there, the congregation grew from 135 to more than 300 in worship and constructed a $2.8 million sanctuary. Todd is a 1994 graduate of Chapman University with a degree in political science. He completed his Master of Divinity degree in 1997 at Phillips Theological Seminary. In 2007, he graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary, where he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree in stewardship and leadership.
Then, on Saturday, May 14, Robert Nutting, President of Ogden Newspapers, Inc., and Chairman of the Board of the Pittsburgh Pirates, will present the Commencement address at the Tilock Ampitheatre on the Quadrangle of Old Main. Bob is also chairman of Seven Springs Mountain Resort.
Recently honored as “Light of the Valley” by the Wheeling YMCA for his myriad and significant contributions toward improving the lives of children and families in the Ohio Valley, Bob has long shone as a “light” in many arenas, including that of education. His longstanding commitment to education is evident by his service as Chairman of the Board of the Linsly School in Wheeling, as a board member of The Thacher School in Ojai, CA, and as past chairman of the West Virginia Independent Colleges & Universities (WVICU).
Further, Bob was instrumental in the launch of the Pirates’ charitable arm, Pirates Charities, an organization dedicated to strengthening the Pittsburgh region, with special emphasis on supporting youth health, fitness, and education. He serves as a board member and treasurer of the Newspaper Association of America and is a former president of the West Virginia Press Association. An avid fisherman and skier, Bob champions various environmental programs as vice-chairman of the Nature Conservancy/West Virginia Chapter and former chapter president and member of Trout Unlimited. He also serves on the board of directors at the Carnegie Natural History Museum in Pittsburgh.
It will be a genuine honor and pleasure to welcome and honor Bob Nutting and the long line of members of his family who have served this institution with distinction.
Former Bethany President Todd H. Bullard (1980-1988) is remembered by many alumni for telling entering students that he hoped at the end of each day on campus, they would be “as tired mentally as they are physically.” Intellectual rigor is among Bethany’s many time-honored traditions, along with the completion of senior comps and diplomas still written in Latin, and all will be present as we conclude another momentous academic year.
Bethany’s alumni and friends can join us in taking great pride in honoring these traditions and those who uphold them at A Small College of National Distinction.