The arrival of a new year is a challenge for many of us as we address the latest—and perhaps longstanding—resolutions for our personal well being, and look ahead to the possibilities that begin in January.
For those of us at Bethany College, the start of a new calendar year is actually the mid-point in the annual cycle of classes, exams, and campus activities. Yet with the three-week January Term and the spring semester which immediately follows, we find ourselves making a fresh beginning—rededicating our campus resources to providing the highest quality education possible for our students. Ahead, amid all of the promise and excitement that unfold during the spring season at beautiful Bethany, will be convocations and celebrations devoted to Founder’s Day, honors and awards, the Scott Lectures, Baccalaureate and Commencement.
To paraphrase the poet Robert Frost, however, we will have many miles to travel before we can rest at semester’s end. And so on behalf of the Bethany community, let me offer a few resolutions for the new year as we begin the 173rd year of Bethany’s history—and my fifth as president of this amazing small college of national distinction.
First, let us resolve to do best that which we do best—teach well. Our students choose Bethany largely because of our excellent national reputation. Although the latest science labs, library databases, and campus improvements support learning, it is our commitment to strong pedagogy that transfers knowledge and transforms thinking. Bethany is blessed with an outstanding faculty who bring alive the latest scholarship in time-honored classroom settings.
Second, we must continue to focus on finances. My financial philosophy—being resource aggressive, but fiscally conservative—is helping Bethany weather the challenges of an uncertain economy, a rollercoaster stock market, and families calculating how to pay for their children’s education. We owe our students every opportunity to succeed—and that begins with abundant and available scholarships and financial aid. I offer a special thank you to our alumni and friends who step up every year to fund existing scholarships or to establish new ones.
Third, I hope in 2012 that a sense of common purpose, including a commitment to service, will continue to unite the members of the Bethany College community. Small colleges exist in part because they are not intended to be large universities. The Bethany advantage—small classes, personalized instruction and advising, campus activities that promote leadership—helps to define us, as it has over the 17 decades of our history.
A winter food drive headed by the campus interfaith club, The Connection, raised 250 pounds of canned and non-perishable items. Connection President Annie Grogan reported that “almost the entire student body contributed something to the food drive,” which benefited local families at Christmas. That’s the kind of community effort that makes me proud of Bethany, and enriches the campus experience for all of us.
Finally, I think a good resolution for us all is to be the best ambassadors we can for Bethany. When we speak to alumni, parents and families, prospective students, academic colleagues, and potential funders of our programs, we have a lot to brag about. Bethany is a special place that accomplishes much, sometimes with very little. As student Annie Grogan says of the successful food drive, “something that seems so small for us can be something big for others.”
Conversely, when you consider our past and the almost insurmountable odds that our founders overcame in establishing and then maintaining Bethany College, something that may loom large for us today may prove to be small in the long view of history. Our predecessors endured much to bring us to this exciting point in our institutional story—a narrative of achievement that is still being written in the words and deeds of Bethanians everywhere.
May the year 2012 be everything you wish it to be. And may Bethany College continue to be an inspiring light that shines bright and reaches far from our hilltop home.
Happy New Year!