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A request from President White: Share your story

In his latest book, “College: What it Was, Is and Should Be,” Andrew Delbanco makes a compelling case for the value of a college experience like Bethel.

In reaction to what seems to me to be a very narrow national dialogue on the subject of higher education, I believe it is time for us to take up the charge and tell the stories that give credence to Delbanco’s thesis, giving voice to the notion that colleges like Bethel still matter and make a difference in the lives of our students and society at large.

What I ask from alumni is to help me collect concrete examples of the value of the liberal arts experience. Send me stories of how Bethel College changed your life. Tell me how a book you read in a class, perhaps unrelated to your vocation, affected you later in life. Tell me how a relationship with a faculty member led you to discover a life-calling. Tell me how living in a residence hall allowed you to find a lifelong friend.

Whatever it is, send it to me. Help me gather the stories of how one small college -- in the middle of Kansas -- has been changing lives for more than 125 years.

Send your story to President’s Office, Bethel College, 300 East 27th Street, North Newton, KS 67117, or e-mail it to president@bethelks.edu. Thank you.

Heavy rainfall ends drought, floods Bethel buildings

When the two-plus-year drought in south-central Kansas underwent a swift reverse at the end of July, Bethel College took a watery hit.

For the first time in the memory of anyone currently on campus, Kidron-Martin Canal on the north side of campus, meant to drain runoff water from the campus and nearby residential areas into Sand Creek, ran over the adjacent access road and flowed into the Memorial Hall basement and Thresher Gym.

Of the five buildings affected, the gym, Mem Hall and Goering Hall to the north, which houses athletic department offices, weight training rooms and locker rooms, sustained the most serious damage.

A team of campus and community members, including Bethel President Perry White and his wife Dalene, worked late into the night July 29-30 to clear the water from the gym floor.

For more of this story, visit the Bethel website.

Bethel makes Forbes.com list for sixth year

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas to be ranked in Forbes.com’s analysis of top U.S. colleges and universities, for the sixth straight year.

Only four institutions of higher learning in the state -- Bethel, plus the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Wichita State University -- made the annual ranking.

Forbes.com, with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP), rates 650 undergraduate programs out of 6,600 accredited U.S. colleges and universities “based on the quality of the education they provide, the experience of the students and how much they achieve.”

Bethel ranked No. 395 among private U.S. colleges and No. 163 on the Midwest colleges list.

For more of this story, visit the Bethel Website.

Football has positive impact on individuals, campus, players say

George Leary ’85 came to Bethel College to play football, and it changed his life.

“It wasn’t that I was in such bad shape that playing football at Bethel ‘saved my soul,’” Leary told the groups who gathered for his seminar at the Mennonite Church USA biennial convention in Phoenix, July 1-5. “I had a good life before I came to Bethel to play football.”

Nevertheless, he’d never have picked a Mennonite college in south-central Kansas were it not for the game. A cradle Catholic who grew up in Florida, Leary had never heard of Bethel.

As a high school senior in 1981, Leary said, “I knew nothing about Mennonites, Kansas or Threshers.” He learned about Bethel by attending a football showcase for Florida high school players, where he met the Bethel coach and liked him, and decided on Bethel sight unseen.

“My advice is not to pick a college without a campus visit,” he told his audience of mostly teenagers. “I arrived to culture shock for me and, I suspect, for many of the people meeting me.

“However, the next four years shaped the person I am today.” ...

Joining Leary in the Phoenix seminar were current and recent Bethel football players Leland Brown and Michael Unruh ’09.

Brown’s path to Bethel resembled Leary’s in many ways.

The current junior from Galveston, Texas, came from a town, school and general culture where “football was king,” he said. The self-described “Baptist Catholic” also attended a football showcase as a high school senior.

“I chose Bethel because I went for a visit,” he told the seminar audience. “When I visited, something told me: Leland, this is where you need to be. Even though I doubted it some after my first semester, I have no doubt now it’s true.” ...

“Today I’m a football player, a Concert Choir member, a forensics team member, a student ambassador and a student chaplain.”

Unlike Leary and Brown, Unruh is a Kansas native who grew up Mennonite and graduated from a small, rural high school, Peabody-Burns in Peabody.

However, like the other two, his only reason for coming to Bethel was because he wanted to play football.

And like them, he emphasized that Bethel football changed his life not in the sense of helping him escape something bad but in terms of its profound impact on the person he’s become.

One way that happened, he said, is because being on the football team forced him to “encounter a lot of other cultures -- black, Hispanic, East Coast, West Coast, urban,” not found in his small-town, mostly white high school.

“It was a little overwhelming at first,” he told the seminar audience. “I wasn’t resistant -- I just didn’t know, so it was a big learning curve.

“Probably the most important thing I learned was not to judge someone based only on my first impression of them,” he said. Some teammates whom he initially thought “weren’t good fits and would be gone after the semester or the first year” went on to prove him wrong. ...

For the complete news story, visit the Bethel website.

Alumni and friends invited to Missouri’s Native Sons tour

Join Kauffman Museum staff members Andi Schmidt Andres ’84 and Kristin Schmidt ’74, alumni and friends of the museum on a motor coach tour to Kansas City and Independence, Mo., Wednesday-Thursday, Sept. 11-12.

The two-day trip focuses on regionalist artist Thomas Hart Benton and the 33rd U.S. president Harry S. Truman. It includes special tours of the Benton Home and Studio Historic Site and the Truman Library and Museum. The group will also visit the nationally recognized Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the locally unique Leila’s Hair Museum.

A pre-tour lecture at Kauffman Museum will include presentations on Benton by art historian Rachel Epp Buller ’96, Bethel assistant professor of art, and on Truman by Richard Walker ’70, chief judge for the Kansas 9th Judicial District (Harvey County District Court) and a Bethel adjunct instructor of history.

The all-inclusive tour cost is $285 for those who are museum members, $300 for those who are not. For more information or to reserve a place, contact Kauffman Museum at kauffman@bethelks.edu or 316-283-1612. Reservations are first-come, first-served.

Golf tourney in Newton, sports on campus Sept. 14

Alumni and friends of Bethel are invited to play in the 23rd annual Fall Thresher Golf Classic on Saturday, Sept. 14, at Sand Creek Station Golf Course, Newton, then attend two sports events on campus the same day.

Check-in time for the golf tournament is 7:15 a.m. The event is a fund-raiser for the college through its Alumni Association, supporting student-centered activities and events such as a Student/Alumni Career Night, Student Alumni Association Holiday Feast, Young Alumnus Award convocation, annual Grandparents Day and popular Mud Slam Volleyball Tournament.

At 2 p.m., Bethel volleyball players will compete against Manhattan Christian College under new head coach John Marble. At 7 p.m., the Thresher football team plays Central Methodist University, Fayette, Mo., under new head coach Marty Mathis. The volleyball match takes place in Thresher Gym, the football game on Joe W. Goering Field.

For a golf registration form, contact the alumni office at 316-284-5251 alumni@bethelks.edu, or print one via the events and golf links at http://www.bethelks.edu/alumni/. Register and pay on or before Tuesday, Sept. 3, and receive a $10 discount.

Both the golf tournament and the sports events coincide with Family Weekend at the college, Sept. 13-15.

Fall Fest to offer tradition and change

Fall Festival is an annual tradition at Bethel College. It’s a time when alumni reunite with former classmates, when people line up to purchase that delectable kettle corn cooked right on the Green and when children enjoy games in an area just for them.

Although those traditions still are in place, there are some changes to this year’s annual Fall Fest fair on campus Saturday, Oct. 5.

“Time brings change, including at this year’s Fall Festival,” said Dave Linscheid ’75, director of alumni relations and coordinator of the festival. “Though many of the longtime traditions will continue, a few will be discontinued, retooled, downsized or relocated in 2013.”

One tradition that will be discontinued are the Fall Festival buttons, which will not be available in advance nor at various entrances to campus on Saturday.

“Instead, Bethel invites you to spend a little extra to support the many groups raising money at Taste of Newton Thursday and the Fall Fest fair Saturday,” Linscheid said. “The college thanks the many loyal volunteers who sold buttons, and the many alumni and friends of Bethel who purchased them the past 26 years.”

Another change is relocation of the Children’s Park to the lawn behind the Administration Building. The Parents Association gazebo will be nearby. In years past, the Children’s Park was south of the Fine Arts Center; however, this year, new grass will be sprouting in that area.

One tradition continuing is the Bethel College Women’s Association selling Mennonite New Year’s cookies and hosting Market on the Green. The group also will provide a smaller taste of Mennonite noontime fare with a borscht and zwieback booth in front of Memorial Hall.

“Enjoy these traditional Fall Fest treats while visiting with others on Centennial Plaza or at tables inside Mem Hall -- perhaps while taking in the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts program at 1 p.m.,” Linscheid said.

Last spring, the women’s group decided to move from Thresher Gym. That decision allowed the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference to schedule Saturday volleyball on campus, which will complement the already planned 40th-anniversary celebration of the BC sport during the weekend.

The Alumni Association this year will have a smaller version of its annual food tent at the east edge of the Green, next to their Mennonite verenike booth.

Those attending Fall Festival will see a completely redone Fine Arts Center plaza and entrance. The crumbling cement-and-gravel surface in front of the building has been replaced, façade remodeled to include better lighting and energy-efficient windows, old glass vestibule inside removed and lobby redecorated. An outdoor stage to the north is slated for completion by Fall Fest, with patio on the south to follow. The architect’s drawings will be in the lobby.

Also new to campus is the Betty Zehr Memorial Garden at the south end of the Green. It will be dedicated at Fall Fest. The garden complements the new Bethel College sign, which greets prospective students and others entering from the south.

“Bethel thanks BCWA and the Alumni Association for their past support and continued participation in Fall Festival, and is grateful to the generous donors who made the memorial garden and remodeling of the Fine Arts Center possible,” Linscheid said.

This year’s extended festival weekend begins Thursday, Oct. 3, with Taste of Newton downtown and ends Sunday, Oct. 6, with worship in the morning and the play, “You Can’t Take It with You,” in the afternoon.

Look for a copy of the Fall Festival flier in the mail in early September or visit http://www.bethelks.edu/alumni/fallfest.

Guest apartments in North Newton

Looking for a place to stay when you visit North Newton? Check out the Woodland Hideaway and Serenity Silo guest apartments just a few blocks from campus.

Located in a woodland garden setting, each apartment can accommodate up to five people and has a full kitchen. Food for a continental breakfast as well as bedding and towels are provided, along with Wi-Fi Internet access.

Children staying with family must be 12 years of age or older. No smoking is allowed.

For cost and other information, e-mail <vadasnider@cox.net> or call 316-283-5231.

Downloadable brochures are available on the Bethel website.