Homecoming Weekend 2012…It doesn’t get any better than this. A crisp autumn day with a bracing bite in the air, fall foliage at its peak, attendance levels among the highest in recent years…spirited reunions, a football win, alumni, student athletes and scholars honored, faculty feted and to top it all off, dedication of a new site honoring alumni involvement in their alma mater for more than a half-century.
The weekend also featured an array of athletic events, the Homecoming Parade and the traditional tailgate party adjacent to Bison Stadium. This was truly a high point of the year for Bethany.
There were some memorable highlights:
Allison Run: Kicking off festivities on Saturday, October 6, was the 12th Annual Allison’s Run, remembering the vibrant life of beloved professor Jim Allison ’62 while raising money to support the scholarship award that bears his name.
Bado Place: No alumni family is more dedicated to its alma mater than the Bados, three generations of whom have attended the College over the span of five decades. That made it especially gratifying to welcome family members to the dedication of Bado Place, commonly known as “Greek Hill.” The dedication was a reminder of the importance of Greek and campus life at Bethany, but also the theme of family and lifelong connections that contribute so tangibly to this great institution. Let us hope that future generations of Bethanians will be inspired as the Bados have been to associate their family life with ours.
Coach Don Ault Football Suite: The Ault Football Suite was dedicated in honor of legendary Bethany College Coach Don Ault, continuing our tradition of upgrading athletic facilities while often honoring outstanding sports figures in Bethany history.
Buckelew Endowment: When Professor of Biology Albert R. (Jay) Buckelew, Jr., retired last year after 43 years of service, it was as if an era had ended at Bethany. A devoted professor, advisor, mentor and friend to Bethany students across the past four decades, Jay was honored in a surprise announcement about the establishment of the Jay Buckelew Endowed Fund at Bethany College. The fund will be used to further the outstanding level of teaching, scholarship and service in our biology program which is so closely associated with his career. Gifts from alumni and friends, including former students and others from throughout the country and across the generations, have been used to establish the fund. We thank all who have contributed, especially Donna L. Smith ’74 and James E. Gerb ’77 for lending their names and valued leadership to this effort to launch the fund.
Athletic Hall of Fame: During halftime of the game, three new Bethanians were formally inducted into the Class of 2012 Bethany Hall of Fame and presented with plaques. The Class of 2012 includes football player and track runner Richie Beckett from the Class of 1995, women’s basketball player Stephanie Cunningham-Roksandich from the Class of 1999 and women’s soccer player Missy Miller from the Class of 1996.
- Richie Beckett excelled on the gridiron and on the track. He was a four-year letterman as a wide receiver and earned Second Team All-PAC in 1993, leading the PAC with 490 receiving yards in 1994 and finished his career with 93 receptions for 1,241 yards. On the track, Beckett qualified for the 1993 NCAA National Championships in the 110 hurdles and placed ninth at the national meet. As a senior in 1995, he won conference championships in the 110 hurdles, the 4x100 and 4x400 relays and finished his career with 10 All-PAC honors. His name is still in the Bethany records books for the 400 (42.74 seconds) and 1,600 (3:20.64) relays, and his time of 14.75 seconds in the 110 hurdles remained a Bison record until 2008. Beckett graduated from Bethany with a degree in sports administration and a minor in business management. He currently resides in Richmond, Va., with his wife Charise and their five children.
- Stephanie Cunningham-Roksandich played in 105 games during her career on the hard court for the Bison. During her four healthy seasons (she missed all but three games of the 1997-98 season due to injury), Bethany compiled a 73-29 record, won its first PAC Championship in school history (1997) and played in the postseason four times, including the 1997 NCAA Tournament and the ECAC Tournament in 1995, 1996 and 1999.Cunningham-Roksandich owns the school record with 12 steals in a game, and in that same contest against Notre Dame (Md.) College in 1995, she recorded the first triple-double in school history with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 12 steals. Cunningham-Roksandich graduated from Bethany with a degree in elementary education. Today, she is the owner/director of the Brunswick Prep Academy and resides in Brunswick, Ohio, with her husband Robert and their three children.
- Missy Miller ranks as the most prolific scorer in Bethany women’s soccer history, pursuing her career in 1992, 1993 and 1994. Among the school records Miller still holds are most goals (74) and points (171) in a career, with second place for career points coming in at 133 .She also tied the school record with four goals in a game, ranks second in career assists with 23 and is second for points in a season with 48. Miller resides in Markleton, Pa., with her husband Jim Mardis and son David.
A future Hall of Famer is Bethany College senior wide receiver Johnathan Foster, who has been named as one of the 147 candidates for the 2012 National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar-Athlete Awards, which also makes him a semifinalist for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy. The Campbell Trophy recognizes an individual as the best football scholar-athlete in the nation.
Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in the final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. Each recipient will receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship, and will vie as finalists for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy.
Communicators Wall of Fame: The Department of Communications and Media Arts’ mixer October 5 showcasing the College’s second-largest major featured the addition of five outstanding communications professionals with ties to Bethany. The unveiling of the wall revealed the names of Jhamal Robinson ‘98, who became one of the youngest executives in the industry at age 25 with a position at E! Entertainment Networks and who has received four Emmy nominations, winning the award for Daytime Entertainment Creative Arts; investigative reporter Del Walters, who has been awarded more than 20 Emmys for investigative reporting and more than 100 other national and international awards, including the Walters national Edward R. Murrow Award for documentary film; and G. Ogden Nutting, H’11, publisher of Ogden Newspapers, Inc., which publishes six daily and three weekly newspapers in West Virginia, as well as daily newspapers in ten other states. Trustee Nutting was honored by the West Virginia Press Association, which named him a life member and awarded him its most prestigious recognition, the Adam R. Kelly Premier Journalist Award.
Others include Susan Ryan Lister ’89, senior specialist for global communications of Whirlpool International Corporation. At Bethany, Susan was active on the editorial staff of The Tower, was a Kalon Scholar and recipient of the Scripps-Howard Journalism Scholarship and active in Phi Mu Sorority. Also honored was Rick Jackson ’78, an award-winning anchor and reporter for more than 30 years for national and local television and radio, including PBS. Rick was active at Bethany in the Kappa Alpha Order, Pi Delta Epsilon and WVBC-Radio and TV.
We are indebted to The Driehorst Family Foundation and other contributors for their investment in technology and scholarships, to our alumni and friends around the country who generously serve as mentors to our students and to our other corporate and organizational partners who are helping us define new and innovative opportunities for our students to gain practical experience in media, public relations and other communications fields.
Donor Recognition Social: A highlight for me every year is the Donor Recognition Social at Christman Manor. It recognizes individuals who have gone the extra mile in their support of Bethany. A real treat for us was visiting with 96-year-old Bethany legend Dr. Robert Martin ‘40, who has supported so many different projects on campus. An endowed chair bears his name, and he spearheaded fundraising for the renovation of the Academic Parlour in Old Main, construction of the Alumni Walk from Christman Manor to Phillips Hall and much more.
This year’s Homecoming Art Exhibit, “A Show of Hands,” was dedicated to the memory of beloved alumna Ruth Caine ’64. In the words of the exhibition brochure, Ruth was “a passionate patron of the arts, a relentless leader of Bethany’s Alumni Council (1996-2005), and an exuberant supporter of “all things Bethany.” As the brochure noted, Ruth’s “interests were vast, her conversations fascinating her laugh infectious,” and her “zest for life contagious.” We mourn the loss of this vibrant daughter of Alma Mater.
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The football team recorded a stunning 42-36 overtime victory over Presidents’ Athletic Conference rival Geneva College. The Bison took a 7-point lead with 18 seconds to go in regulation, only to have Geneva tie the score on a “Hail Mary” pass as time expired. Matt Grimard connected with Ed Holmes in the back of the end zone on the Bethany’s first possession in overtime to clinch the win.
Sun, spirit, scholarship and sports: Homecoming Weekend 2012 was a time when all the ingredients assembled in just the right proportions to create a magnificent recipe. If you weren’t there, plan to join us next year. But it won’t be easy to replicate this near-perfect weekend. Homecoming 2012, showcasing all the best that Bethany has to offer, will be a tough act to follow.