The Awards Committee of the Bethel College Alumni Association announced this year’s award recipients:
Distinguished Achievement Award
Samir Khabbaz ’54, Richlandtown, Pennsylvania, majored in mathematical sciences. He came to Bethel from a Palestinian refugee camp in 1950, and professor Arnold Wedel ’47 took special interest in this brilliant young math student. While at the college, Khabbaz placed 64th in the nation on the Putnam exam taken by thousands of students from more than 1,500 U.S. college and universities, helping to raise the bar for Bethel math students at the time and beyond.
Khabbaz has published many articles and lectured extensively worldwide, and is professor emeritus of mathematics at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, Pa. He’s been president of the Arab American Association of the Lehigh Valley, helped found the “Arab Journal of Mathematics,” is a member of Americans of Arabic Heritage, and is on the board of directors for Americans and Palestinians for Peace.
Khabbaz will be honored at the Alumni Banquet at noon Saturday, June 6, during Alumni Weekend.
Outstanding Alumnus Award
Delora (Jantz) ’63 and Jerry Decker, North Newton, are being honored for their support of Bethel in many ways, but especially for supporting students for many years. The two have attended campus events and hosted many students at meals, including athletes and -- for 15 years -- the Student Alumni Association. They’ve coordinated the host family program and befriended individuals, including giving them room and board when the residence halls were closed, and tutoring some as they wrote papers for class.
Delora majored in elementary education at Bethel, served on the Alumni Council 1991-2010 and Board of Directors 1996-2010, and currently is an accountant with Dwayne Pauls LLC. Jerry worked at AGCO and is retired, working part time at Graber’s Ace Hardware.
The Deckers will receive the award at the Alumni Banquet at noon Saturday, June 6, during Alumni Weekend.
Young Alumnus Award
Matthew D. Krehbiel ’99, Topeka, majored in biology and natural sciences and was certified to teach 6-12 biology, chemistry and physics. After graduating, he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Virginia through Mennonite Voluntary Service, then returned to Kansas and taught high school science for 10 years in Great Bend and Junction City. While teaching, Krehbiel earned his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at Kansas State University.
In 2010, Krehbiel took the position as the science education program consultant for the Kansas State Department of Education. At KSDE, he led Kansas to be a lead state in developing the Next Generation Science Standards -- third in the nation to adopt the rigorous requirements. Krehbiel is on the board of several state science organizations, including the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education, Kansas Association for Teachers of Science, and the Kansas State Science and Engineering Fair. On the national level, he is president-elect of the Council of State Science Supervisors and a member of the Board on Science Education for the National Academy of Sciences.
Krehbiel will receive his award in convocation Friday, Aug. 28, and give the convo address.
These individuals already know they’ve been selected. More information on them and their respective awards will be distributed in
Bethel College Context magazine and through the public media.