August, with its promise of things to come, is one of my favorite times of the year. For many, summer 2011 will be remembered as a time of searing heat and the July release of “Deathly Hallows 2,” the final film in the Harry Potter series, when viewers said “goodbye” to Hogwarts, Harry and friends after ten wildly successful years. On the Bethany College campus, though, the summer has been a time not of fantasy but of bustling activity and the hard work associated with preparation for another academic year.
Our extensive summer camp program is coming to a close. Among them, Camp Canyon enjoyed a successful fourth year. The Ohio Valley football All-Stars just wrapped up their first of five years with us. How enjoyable it was to host a large group of 66 talented gridders, 180 band members and 20 cheerleaders on campus preparing for the traditional Ohio v. West Virginia game.
While many faculty and students were vacationing, the Ogden Dining Hall, Boomer’s and Bethany Beanery saw extensive renovation and improvement as a result of a $400,000 private contribution. The radio station also underwent an upgrade of instrumentation, while Bethany House and the Renner Art Gallery were the focus of needed improvements.
Our talented Director of Physical Plant Ted Williams and his staff have completed the finishing touches, maintaining and further enhancing our spectacularly beautiful campus as we prepare to again welcome more than 300 new students on August 20. In addition, it has been gratifying to share the summer with the more than 50 Bethany students who lived on campus, working a variety of jobs from camps, to physical plant, to staffing in the President’s Office.
Following last year’s surge in enrollment of 11 percent due to the completion of Cochran Hall, with its suite-style housing for 72 students, we will see more modest growth in the next three years as we once again operate at residential capacity. Last year’s enrollment of 1,020, including approximately 900 in residence, is the largest since 1976-77.
Summer was a time for me to travel the country from coast to coast visiting with alumni and friends; these included gatherings with groups from Boston and New York to San Diego and San Francisco. I took part in meetings with a variety of our special affiliated programs. These programs add value to the educational experience of our students.
Bethany has benefited academically for approximately 30 years from membership in the 36-member Appalachian College Association led by President Paul Chewning ‘75 which makes 1.5 million volumes, and countless other resources, from member institutions available to students and faculty. Dr. Darin Fields, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and I attended the ACA Annual Meeting and heard numerous reports of how the Association helps develop and share ideas, information, programs and resources, which include promoting cooperation and collaboration among its member institutions to serve the people of Appalachia through higher education and related services.
I attended the annual meeting of the Independent College Enterprise, a unique technology consortium of Bethany and six other institutions in three states. The ICE group allows our campus to remain current in new academic and administrative technology in a cost-effective way.
In addition, I attended the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Nashville. As an officer of The Council of Colleges and Universities, I was delighted to be a part of the main floor program session unveiling the new branding (a sampling at the new website
www.tcucc.org) for the organization that represents the 14 colleges and universities in covenant relationship with the
While diverse, member institutions share a number of things in common, including a commitment to academic excellence and liberal arts; an inclusive, welcoming community that respects all people and cultures; a focus on character, leadership and service to our global community; a passion for improving the world around us; students and faculty with strong values and faith; and a philosophy of faith paired with reason—all hallmarks of a Bethany College education since its founding.
A sure sign of the coming academic year is that fall sports teams will report in the next two weeks. There’s always a sense of optimism as we start anew. This is an ideal time to remind you to sign up for e-scores on the Bethany website, a free service of the College that will send results immediately after each event to your computer or cell phone.
It seems like just yesterday we said “good bye for now” to graduating students and four long-time retiring members of the faculty. Looking ahead, we start the new year with eight new, talented faculty. I continue to be impressed as Bethany College recruits talented top-tier faculty from throughout the country. Our faculty is the heart of our educational enterprise and one of the strongest threads binding together alumni from many generations.
In addition, as part of our increased emphasis on global learning in a pluralistic society, we welcome Ms. Muna ALMerri of Bahrain as our Fulbright Scholar in Arabic Language and Culture. Ms. ALMerri will instruct elementary Arabic 1 and 2, as well as a course addressing topics in modern Arabic culture and society. Ms. ALMerri earned her B.A. in English literature, with a minor in educational technologies, from the University of Bahrain. She completed post-graduate education in education and distance education from the University of Bahrain and Arabian Gulf University. The Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Institute of International Education.
We also welcome new Dean of Students Jerry Stebbins. Jerry comes to us from Washington & Jefferson College, where he served as associate dean for over a decade. With his deep understanding of the integral relationship between student living and the academic learning experience on a residential liberal arts campus, Jerry is a vital member of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.
Join us on August 20 at 6 p.m. as we welcome new students for the traditional procession through the Oglebay Gates up the hill to the Freshman Corridor in Old Main, and the processional into the Tilock Amphitheatre for the annual Matriculation Ceremony before the first day of classes Monday, August 22.
Fall Convocation will follow on September 8, with Board Chair Greg Jordan ’81 as featured speaker. Greg and long-time trustee and benefactor Ogden Nutting will each be recognized with honorary doctoral degrees that day for their unwavering support of the College.
Back to my fondness for the month of August, the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus liked it, too--it was named for him. This final month of summer contains 31 days because the emperor wanted to make sure that it was as long as July, named for his predecessor, Julius Caesar.
It’s a good thing we have those extra days to accomplish everything that needs to be done before school opens! Be sure to mark your calendar for Homecoming October 7 and 8, bookmark the website and sign up, too, for updates via my Facebook page, The President’s Blog and Twitter.