The Bethel College Board of Directors voted unanimously May 2 in support of the Presidential Search Committee’s recommendation of alumnus Barry C. Bartel ’84, Lakewood, Colo., as the 13th president in Bethel’s 119-year history. The appointment ends a year-long search process, the goal of which was to recruit a long-term president with proven leadership abilities.
The search committee was drawn to Barry’s servant leadership style, the analytical and communication skills honed in his legal career, his desire to listen and learn and his interest in higher education, said committee chair Danielle Goering. The committee was also impressed with his cross-cultural awareness/aptitude, developed through living in Bolivia and Haiti, and his obvious passion for Bethel’s rich heritage as well as its future.
Barry graduated from Bethel summa cum laude in 1984 with a triple major in mathematics (computer science emphasis), peace studies and Bible and religion. He received a prestigious Thresher Award in Bible and religion.
Following graduation, Barry and his wife, Brenda (Isaak) Bartel ’84, served for three years as rural community development project coordinators for Mennonite Central Committee in Haiti. Upon their return to the United States, Barry entered law school at Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Ore., where he was editor-in-chief of the law review, graduating in 1991. After Barry had clerked for Oregon Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Unis for two years, the family (including son Jordan and daughter Leah) moved to Denver, where Barry began his law practice.
By 1998, Brenda and Barry’s passion for the church led them to accept a five-year leadership assignment with Mennonite Central Committee in Bolivia, directing a multinational staff of 70. As co-director, Barry became adept at program planning, implementation and evaluation; team building, training and visioning; and personnel selection, orientation, policy development and supervision.
Upon completion of their MCC service term in 2003, the Bartel family returned to Denver where Barry resumed his legal career with Holland & Hart LLP. Currently an associate attorney, Barry focuses on complex commercial litigation involving natural resources.
“Bethel’s founders were visionaries when they established the first Mennonite college in North America,” Barry said. “Bethel’s leadership, faculty, staff, students and alumni continue to demonstrate that true excellence combines achievement and character, innovation and discipline. I am excited to help carry that vision forward.”
Barry will prepare for the role of president by serving as president-elect, beginning June 1, until his formal inauguration on Sunday, Oct. 8, during Fall Festival weekend. John K. Sheriff will continue as interim president until that time.