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Alumni association announces award recipients for 2015

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.

Alumni Weekend will be a Thresher Refresher

With the theme A Thresher Refresher, this year’s Alumni Weekend -- Friday evening, June 5, through Sunday noon, June 7 -- will provide opportunities for alumni and friends of the college to:

  • attend an opening ice cream social with President Perry White and Dalene White (Friday evening)
  • stay on campus (Friday and/or Saturday nights)
  • enjoy lectures by Annette LeZotte, director of Kauffman Museum, and Joel Linscheid ’08, instructor of music and director of jazz studies (Saturday morning)
  • recognize the Golden Thresher Class of 1965 at the Alumni Banquet (Saturday noon)
  • honor Delora (Jantz) ’63 and Jerry Decker, North Newton, with this year’s Outstanding Alumnus Award, and Samir Khabbaz ’54, Richlandtown, Pennsylvania, with the Distinguished Achievement Award
  • tour the campus to see what’s new
  • sing in an alumni choir
  • dine with others in the classes of 1965, 1960, 1955 and the Heritage Classes of 1950 and earlier years (Saturday evening)
  • sing, worship and acknowledge those who have supported BC in a special way (Sunday morning)

Visit the Bethel website for more details, watch the mail for complete information in spring or contact the alumni office, 316-284-5251, alumni@bethelks.edu.

Phonathon volunteers to call alumni in February

February is here, and that means volunteers, current students and staff will call alumni to visit and ask them to support Bethel through this year’s Alumni Association phonathon.

“I invite all alumni to give toward this year’s phonathon goal of $150,000, which is 10 percent of the $1.5 million in donations to the Bethel Fund needed by June 30,” said Dave Linscheid ’75, director of alumni relations.

The 2015 phonathon flier features reflections by young alumni across the United States and illustrates how the $150,000 raised will enhance the Bethel student experience in a variety of ways. It was mailed not only to alumni but to friends of the college, as well.

People will call from Feb. 10-28.

If you haven’t already, please respond by:

  • sending a check in the envelope provided
  • providing your gift amount and credit card information on the response slip
  • giving online at
  • or emailing your donation plans to .

The volunteer callers, students and staff thank you in advance for helping to meet this year’s $150,000 goal!

New Testament scholar to speak Feb. 20

Internationally acclaimed New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman will speak on “Jesus and the Historian” at convocation at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 20, in Krehbiel Auditorium.

Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His presentation is open to the public. Bible, religion and ministry students from area colleges have been invited to attend. In addition, Bethel students have the opportunity to hear Ehrman speak that weekend at the Word & Note at Plymouth Congregational Church in Wichita (Feb. 20-22) for free.

“This special arrangement between Bethel College and Plymouth’s Word & Note series is designed to encourage Bethel students to attend and participate in this outstanding program,” said Kristen Marble, adjunct instructor of interdisciplinary studies and convocation.

Community members can attend the Word & Note lecture and reception for $30. For details and to purchase tickets, call 316-684-0221.

Stories build bridges between students, elders

Bethel College freshmen -- most first-year college students, in fact -- probably don’t imagine they have much in common with those on the other end of the life spectrum.

Then it occurred to Rachel Epp Buller ’96, assistant professor of visual art and design at Bethel as well as an instructor for College Issues Colloquy (CIC), which every freshman must take, that there might actually be some similarities.

“When I was a freshman at Bethel [in the 1990s],” she said, “my grandparents had just moved to Kidron Bethel Village.” The campus of Kidron Bethel, a retirement community in North Newton, is less than half a mile from Bethel College’s.

“What they described -- friends living just down the hall, meeting every day in the dining hall -- sounded a lot like college,” Epp Buller continued.

“I also realized that both retirement and college communities are rather isolated -- you’re surrounded mostly by people your own age.”

So for the “instructor’s choice” portion of CIC, which comes at the end of the semester, Epp Buller had her group of 13 students work with a group of Kidron Bethel Assisted Living residents.

They shared life stories, and then the students wrote reflection narratives on what they had heard.

For more of this article, visit the Bethel website.

Reunions engage alumni in spring, fall

Last year’s “new-and-improved” Alumni Weekend in June brought more than 200 alumni and guests to campus for an array of engaging activities, including a new class reunion mix. Here’s a reminder of which alumni gatherings now occur when:


Classes celebrating their 50th, 55th and 60th anniversaries have reunion dinners on Alumni Weekend. “Heritage Class” members -- anyone celebrating 65 years or more since attending -- eat together, as well, hosted by Bethel staff. This year, these meals will be at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 6.


Classes celebrating their 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 30th, 35th, 40th and 45th reunions gather for receptions during Fall Festival Saturday across campus.

This year's Fall Fest fair date is Oct. 10, with the four younger classes tentatively scheduled to meet 10-11:30 a.m. and the older groups 2:30-4 p.m.

Anyone who earned 24 credit hours or more at Bethel -- whether they graduated or not -- is considered an alumnus of the college. The Bethel College Alumni Association invites all alumni, their spouses and guests to attend class reunions.

For more information or to volunteer to host a class reunion, contact Dave Linscheid, director of alumni relations, at alumni@bethelks.edu or 316-284-5252.

Printmaker does residency, gives lecture

The public had the opportunity to get to know Bethel College’s visiting artist, who was on campus for a week during the January interterm.

Austin, Texas-based artist Johanna Mueller was in residence in Rachel Epp Buller’s printmaking class Jan. 12-15.

Mueller also gave the Greer Lecture Jan. 15 in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center. A “pop-up exhibition” of some of Mueller’s work was in the Regier Gallery Jan. 13-15.

Mueller is a printmaker, artist and entrepreneur, originally from Denver. Her artwork involves symbols and themes from Eastern and Western mythology and cultural traditions, which juxtapose themselves in animal form in her intricate engravings.

The images in Mueller’s work evoke memories from literature and myth, producing a modern folklore that contains personal narrative and secular themes.

Mueller is deeply involved in the printmaking world. She has shared the art of engraving as a visiting artist at institutions, such as the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, Bowling Green (Ohio) University and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Independence, Texas, and taught workshops at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, Colorado, the Donkey Mill, Hilo, Hawaii, and Frogman’s Printmaking Workshops in Vermillion, South Dakota.

For more information about the visit, go to the Bethel website.

Employment opportunities at Bethel College

Bethel College is accepting applications for the following positions: mathematics professor, vice president for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, and multimedia coordinator.

Anyone interested in applying or seeing postings as they become available can visit the Bethel website.