The holiday season at a small college is always special. Students and faculty prepare for the end of their fall semester, holiday travel arrangements are confirmed, campus special events (such as our interfaith Light Up Night on November 29) bring the community together, shortened days gently nudge us toward winter.
It’s been a wonderful year at Bethany, worth celebrating as Christmas arrives and 2012 comes to a close. Here are a few highlights:
We achieved major goals in enrollment and fundraising, as well as collaborative initiatives with such institutions as Carnegie Mellon University, now a Bethany partner in six new dual-degree programs. Our strong standing as a first-tier, national liberal arts college has been reaffirmed through the latest higher education rankings. The strength and quality of Bethany’s enrollment program, along with our having achieved $44 million to date in the capital campaign, are just some of the indicators of the College’s continuing success and national prominence.
Homecoming Weekend, October 5-6, was spectacular—a classic coming together of alumni and friends, campus dedications and the honoring of those who make Bethany so special. Later that month, Bethany Trustee Vice Chair Dr. Robert McCann, CEO of UBS Group Americas, hosted 25 Bethany students at an in-depth series of leadership and career-development forums in Pittsburgh, capped by an off-the-record examination of current issues by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Dr. Greg Jordan, chair of the Bethany Board of Trustees, summed up the importance of the day’s activities with this challenge to our students: “Get into the game…You are at a very exciting point in your life. It’s all in front of you.”
Our ability to look ahead as a college is matched only by the empowering strength of our traditions, especially those closely identified with our founding denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A highlight of the year for me was the invitation to address the congregation and friends of the National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C., October 14. Convened by the Rev. Dr. Peter Morgan, Bethany College’s Director of Church Relations Dr. Larry Grimes, and the Rev. Scott Thayer, our campus chaplain and minister of the Bethany Memorial Church, the occasion was a celebration of the historic relationship between Bethany and the iconic Washington church which once counted among its parishioners U.S. Presidents Lyndon Johnson and James Garfield, the latter a former trustee of Bethany College.
In my address to the congregation, I had the honor of commenting on that relationship by saying, “Bethany College is our founder Alexander Campbell’s legacy to those chosen students who seek to free their minds from prejudice, explore the wonders of the world, and diligently, pleasurably, and perhaps even uncomfortably reflect as they learn amid the spiritually nourishing splendor of the Appalachians. To walk where President Campbell walked, to glimpse the far-reaching vision of possibility that he possessed, is an honor and privilege that defines our work at Bethany each day.” What a great day for Bethany, our friends in the Church and all who share our mission.
As the calendar year winds down to its final weeks, I hope you will join the thousands of alumni and friends who make an annual gift to The Bethany Fund. The holiday season is often when our contributors decide to make their calendar-year-end gift to Bethany, but we welcome your support at any time.
Why does your gift matter? Contributing to Bethany helps us address some of the most urgent challenges that we and our peer institutions confront in preparing for the future. These include having adequate resources for scholarships, faculty development, campus technology and facilities, the library, study-abroad initiatives and many other needs and opportunities. Every gift, of any amount, matters and is gratefully received.
At a time when the public increasingly questions the worth of an investment in a quality, four-year educational experience such as that offered by Bethany, gifts from alumni and friends aid us in assuring our prospective students and their families that Bethany is indeed worth that investment by providing important enhancements to our learning environment. Thank you for your commitment to our success.
On behalf of the entire campus community, Annie and I wish for each of you the happiest of holiday seasons, along with a spectacular new year of 2013. We hope your plans for the new year will include a visit to the beautiful, historic mountaintop campus of A Small College of National Distinction.