“Tradition is not there to arrest us; it is there to
arouse us.” –
Toni Morrison, Pulitzer-Prize winner
This fall will be my first as Bethany’s president, and I’m
truly looking forward to observing many special traditions. Last week,
I observed for the first time our freshmen walking through the historic
Oglebay Gates, leading to the opening Matriculation Ceremony. And
of course, there will be my official installation as the College’s
19th president on Oct. 3. This celebration is really not about me,
but rather, about bringing together all of the College community as
we begin a new academic year and a transformative, 10-year strategic
planning process for this fine small college of national distinction.
We are off to a momentous start. Bethany was recently selected as
one of the nation's Top 100 four-year undergraduate colleges and
universities in the inaugural nationwide rankings compiled by
Forbes magazine. Earlier this summer, we were cited by
Princeton Review as among “The Best in the Southeast”
on its website feature, 2009 Best Colleges: Region by Region, and
by Colleges of Distinction in its 2008-2009 guide. The value
of Bethany’s academic rigor and outcomes was emphasized just
last week when the College was selected for inclusion in the 10th
edition of Barron's Best Buys in College Education.
In part, it was the spectacular beauty and richness of Bethany’s
history that first attracted me back to this region of my roots when
I visited campus almost one year ago as part of the search process.
It is traditions such as the freshmen and senior processions through
the gates, after which graduates receive diplomas inscribed in Latin,
that give texture and meaning to a Bethany education—important
touchstones that link Bethanians through the classes and generations.
Tradition, though, must be blended with innovation and best practice
in the current marketplace. As Toni Morrison, acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning
author of the best-selling novel, Beloved, once said, “Tradition
is not there to arrest us; it is there to arouse us.”
That seems an apt metaphor for Bethany College as we move forward
into a new academic year with many progressive initiatives, a transformative
capital campaign and my first full academic year as president. While
the College is justly proud of its rich heritage and traditions as
West Virginia’s oldest independent college, we must also take
some informed risks and implement strategic plans to validate our
status as a small college of national distinction.
The summer has been one of progress and change, with a successful
inaugural Camp Canyon, the first of three West Virginia Governor’s Honors
Academies bringing more than 180 of our state’s best young leaders
to campus and a number of well-attended conferences at our historic
Mountainside Conference Center.
All of these, in addition to new partnerships with West Virginia
Northern Community College, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, the Online
Consortium of Independent Colleges and Universities and the InterAmerican
Consortium—the latter facilitating distance learning and international
study opportunities for students--are springboards for future growth
in enrollment, which will be paramount in the future of the College.
Among the changes that returning students will observe are upgraded
facilities to make the entire Bethany campus more contemporary in
its appearance and services to students. Bison Stadium has been enhanced
with upgraded lighting, new artificial turf for the playing field,
a rubberized all-weather track, new field event amenities and a total
makeover of the women’s softball field.
The renovation and expansion
of both the student center in the Benedum Commons, and The Judith R.
Hurl Education Center are well under way. The Judith R. Hurl Education
Center, with its state-of-the art classrooms, Education Department
offices and a day care center represents a major new addition to the
College’s well-regarded teacher preparation program.
More capital projects are on tap for the future in keeping with
the needs and expectations of today’s students and families who are
more mobile, more fitness-oriented and more consumer savvy than
earlier generations. Expect to see more in the months and years ahead
as we strive to enhance the total Bethany College experience. I invite
each member of the Bethany community to follow our Transformation Now!
process through my presidential website.
A seamless transformative process is much like a symphony performance
in which each instrument and every musician plays a role as they blend
individual talents and interpretations into a melodious whole. A College
campus, properly orchestrated, is much like that. Together, we are
much greater than the sum of our parts. Each member of the Bethany
community—from the youngest freshman to the most senior faculty—have
their notes to play, and each of you will leave the rich fabric of
the College tapestry more lustrous for your having been a part of
With your participation in the inclusive master planning process,
Bethany in 2013 will be a college well-positioned for the challenges of
the future while still very much the academically rigorous, values-centered
community for which we are known today.
The Talmud contains a rich piece of wisdom: “When one changes
a single life, one changes the world entire.” At Bethany, we
are in the business of changing and enriching lives—expanding
opportunities and enriching options—for our students, our alumni
and the state and region we serve. Welcome to a new, transcendent,
Scott D. Miller, Ph.D.
President of the College
Author’s Note: Bethany’s Transformation
Now! site may be accessed at:
I invite each member of the Bethany community to follow our Transformation
Now! process through my presidential website.
To see Dr. Miller's biography:
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