As I write this letter, another round of snowfall is covering our scenic campus. We see students in the evening “traying” on the hills in front of Christman Manor at Pendleton Heights and Campbell Village. A few daring students are using inner tubes on some of the bigger hills. It’s hard to believe that it
has been one year since the great ice storm that closed the campus and surrounding area for more than a week.
Our spring term is underway. A week ago we completed January Term, with approximately 450 students taking classes. This concentrated format permits them to explore subjects of interest that might not be possible in a semester-long course; some of the intriguing titles included “Appalachian Mythbusters,” “The Lowdown on Getting High,” and “Ninja Turtles: Math, Science and Art.”
The final week of January Term was also a time for seniors who have completed major requirements to take their comps. I enjoyed visiting with a number of celebrants as family and friends gathered following this sometimes excruciating, but always meaningful, experience that links Bethanians through the generations. The sense of accomplishment and pride by family and friends is a special and memorable Bethany tradition. We are, reportedly, one of just three dozen colleges and universities nationally that still require a senior project as well as written and verbal comps.
Also last month, the Bethany College Day of Service honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 25th anniversary of the federal holiday in his memory, with 53 volunteers gathering to share in a variety of service projects and a celebratory dinner featuring remarks by Shaunda Miles, director of programming and cultivation of the August Wilson Center for African-American Culture. The commemoration served as a reminder of Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community” and his challenge: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”
Bethany was selected by West Virginia Campus Compact as an MLK Day of Service 2011 Host Campus and received a mini-grant to help fund the day’s efforts in which faculty, staff and students logged 212 hours of work with local organizations. It was my privilege to spend the day with a group of students working at the Wheeling area homeless shelter. Fostering community service is one of the most rewarding actions I can take as a college president. One person can always make a difference; when a group of people pools its resources, anything is possible.
Bethany’s faculty and alumni continue to earn accolades. The Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia announced that Bethany College Professor of Biology Albert “Jay” R. Buckelew has been selected as one of five finalists for its 2010 Professor of the Year. This is the second time in three years that a Bethany professor has been chosen for the honor. John Burns, also a professor of biology, was a contender for the 2008 award.
Well-known nationally and internationally for his work in microbiology and ornithology, Dr. Buckelew joined the Bethany faculty in 1969 and has authored two books, more than 50 articles and abstracts and numerous book reviews. He serves as a section editor for Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Sciences and is also editor of The Redstart Journal of the Brooks Bird Club, headquartered in Wheeling. He has achieved numerous honors, including the West Virginia Wildlife Federation’s Conservationist of the Year award in 1996.
Alumnus and honorary degree recipient Thomas Buergenthal ’57 H’81, former judge on the International Court of Justice and now a professor at The George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC, will be featured guest speaker at Founder’s Day ceremonies March 3. To have such an esteemed leader in the international pursuit of peace and justice join us in celebrating the 171st anniversary of the founding of Bethany College is a high honor. Festivities will include the traditional Founder’s Day Convocation at 11 a.m. in historic Commencement Hall.
Judge Buergenthal arrived in the United States when he was 17 years old after spending more than 10 years of his childhood in Nazi camps, including Auschwitz. He earned his J.D. from New York University Law School and an LL.M. and S.J.D. in international law from Harvard University. He has authored or co-authored numerous articles and more than a dozen books, including the first international human rights law textbook in the United States. Judge Buergenthal recently published A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy, which has been translated into more than 10 languages.
Another prominent Bethanian, Marie E. (Zuberbuehler) DeParis ’83, vice president of marketing and business development for SNY, the official television home of the New York Mets, Jets and Big East Conference, will deliver the keynote address for the 27th annual Kalon Scholarship Luncheon March 5, as part of the Kalon Leadership Scholarship Competition for incoming freshmen with exceptional academic, leadership, and service records. DeParis oversees SNY consumer marketing, including on-air promotion, advertising, affiliate marketing, and sales promotion. She has won a New York Emmy and three ProMaxBDA North America Promotion & Marketing Awards for television commercial campaigns and promotional spots.
The Kalon Scholarship Weekend represents a unique opportunity for highly talented, future Bethany students to hear from alumni who continue to build upon the foundation of opportunity they established here as undergraduates.
In May, Bethany College will host the 56th annual Oreon E. Scott Lectures at our Mountainside Conference Center. This year’s featured speaker will be Dr. Bruce Epperly, director of continuing education and professor of practical theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary. The event focus will be “Loosely Christian: Theology, Spirituality, and Mission for a Postmodern Church.” Dr. James Johnson, president of Lexington Theological Seminary, will speak during the Timothy Luncheon at noon on May 2.
Monday’s events will conclude with a worship service at Bethany Memorial Church, a sermon by Dr. Epperly, “Beyond Scarcity Thinking: Living by Adventure and Abundance (I Kings 17:8-16 and Luke 5:1-11),” and a reception at Christman Manor at Pendleton Heights.
Bethany scholar-athletes continue to excel. Men’s basketball is again competing for the conference championship and a post-season bid; spring sports are just around the corner, with softball and baseball coming off stellar post-seasons last year and energized for a successful spring season.
As the spring semester unfolds, the College continues to celebrate many noteworthy and positive developments. Enrollment is strong, the capital campaign is flourishing, and our new Master of Arts in Teaching is receiving rave reviews. It all promises to be another busy and highly successful spring season at Bethany. We look forward to keeping in touch.
In the meantime, for daily updates, follow me on Facebook (Scott D. Miller) or Twitter (BethanyCollege1).