Weather forced some changes to Bethel’s 120th commencement May 19, but also put the newest capital improvement to the test, which it passed easily.
A large tornado menacing Wichita, and the accompanying severe weather 30 miles away in North Newton, right at the time scheduled for commencement, meant the 108 members of the Class of 2013 had to forgo both ceremonies in Thresher Stadium and the traditional march around the Green.
Maintenance staff carted one of the college’s threshing stones into Memorial Hall, so the graduates could touch it, according to tradition, as they processed to their seats.
Up until the time it moved to Thresher Stadium, in 2008, commencement had been held for decades in Mem Hall, producing generations’ worth of memories of the heat and humidity of a full auditorium.
Earlier this spring, however, the college installed air conditioning in both Mem Hall and adjacent Thresher Gym. This was its first use with a capacity crowd and it worked perfectly.
Douglas Penner ’69, Topeka, Bethel president 1995-2002, who recently retired after 10 years as president of the Kansas Independent College Association and Fund, gave the commencement address, which he titled “You want to move a heavy boulder?”
To be asked to speak was “a rare privilege, even more so when the college is your alma mater,” said Penner, “and in particular for the 125th [anniversary of the college].”
Penner quoted the Greek mathematician Archimedes: “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world.”
“Leverage, applied properly, dramatically [increases] your strength,” Penner said. “The impact of the best kind of college education, such as the one you got at Bethel, is that it’s where the lever and the place to stand are developed.”
Read more of Dr. Penner’s words of wisdom for the Class of 2013, plus find photos from commencement weekend on Bethel’s website.