A Small College of National Distinction

 

The
President's
Letter

September, 2008

A monthly communiqué from
Dr. Scott D. Miller
President of the College

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to contact
Dr. Miller,
please write him at:

Bethany College
110 Old Main
Bethany, WV 26032

or

smiller@bethanywv.edu

Transformation Now!

“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 the “orchestra.”

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, academic year.

Cordially,

Scott D. Miller, Ph.D.
President of the College

Author’s Note: Bethany’s Transformation Now! site may be accessed at:
www.bethanywv.edu/about-bethany/presidents-welcome/transformation-at-bethany

I invite each member of the Bethany community to follow our Transformation Now! process through my presidential website.

To see Dr. Miller's biography:
www.bethanywv.edu/about-bethany/presidents-welcome/presidential-biography/

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