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Donor’s generosity leads to naming new academic center

James Will was known throughout his lifetime for his generosity, which Bethel College has honored in the name of its new academic center.

Bethel President Perry White announced the naming of the James A. Will Family Academic Center in his remarks at the center’s dedication, Saturday, Oct. 13, during Fall Festival. The dedication and announcement of the name were among the special events celebrating Bethel’s 125th anniversary.

The academic center represents a $5 million renovation of the former Science Hall.

“Bethel received a seven-figure gift from the James A. Will Estate,” said Sondra Bandy Koontz ’70, vice president for advancement. “In appreciation, we have named the academic center for James Will and his family.”

Including the word “family” in the academic center name memorializes Will as well as his parents and brother, Ernest “Ernie” Will, all of whom predeceased him, and also recognizes the Will extended family.

James A. Will was born in 1934 at the Halstead Hospital to Henry Gustav and Helen Elizabeth (Mueller) Will. He grew up on a farm north of Halstead, attended Riverside and South Garden schools and graduated from Halstead High School.

After two years at Bethel, he finished his degree in business at the University of Kansas. He then served in the United States Army, stationed in Germany for part of the time.

He began his career at an accounting firm in McPherson before opening his own business on Main Street in Halstead and working as an accountant at Halstead Hospital. He was an officer for the Bentley State Bank and then a vice president at the Halstead Bank until his retirement.

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Archives is quiet contributor to Bethel anniversary celebrations

One of the most visible contributors to Bethel’s quasquicentennial (125th) year celebrations is, at the same time, among the least noticed.

That’s the Mennonite Library and Archives at Bethel. Keith Sprunger, professor emeritus of history and author of the just-released history “Bethel College of Kansas, 1887-2012,” called the MLA “a rich resource for study.”

It’s a fitting compliment to the MLA, since October was National Archives Month as declared by the Society of American Archivists.

Many of Sprunger’s primary sources for “Bethel College of Kansas” and the lion’s share of its photos came from the MLA.

In addition, says John Thiesen ’82, archivist and Bethel co-director of libraries, the MLA has been the main source for photos for much of the remodeling work that’s been happening on campus in the past year.

There are new photo displays in the Academic Center foyer, Franz Atrium of Krehbiel Science Center and in the Schultz Student Center hallway, including one that reflects the college’s history through six emphases (such as “the Administration Building” and “pranks”). . . .

Asked for the strangest recent request, Thiesen says, “A guy called, probably from California, looking for a particular Amish-published book. It was a real citation. He said he was looking for it because the Masons, the Mormons and the Mennonites had buried the Ark of the Covenant in Escondido, Calif., in 1927, and this book was going to lead him to it.”

Unfortunately for the man, Thiesen says, the MLA couldn’t send him the book.

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Check presentations continue service emphasis from Pittsburgh 2011

Mennonite youth continue to help spread Bethel’s emphasis on service from its booth at the Mennonite Youth Convention in Pittsburgh, well over a year later.

Sept. 16, Bethel Associate Director of Admissions Clark Oswald ’03 visited First Mennonite Church in Morton, Ill., to participate in Sunday morning worship and present a check for $500 to Mark Nabers, a high school senior from the congregation.

At the convention, Bethel sponsored a Mennonite trivia scavenger hunt in which youth filled out cards with answers and then entered them in daily drawings. The four winners each got $500 for a charity or service project of their choice.

Nabers chose to give his check to the Prenatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill. “He told me, ‘This is where I started my life -- I thought the money should go there,’” Oswald said.

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Athletes take part in Operation Christmas Child

Bethel athletes are getting into the Christmas spirit early by playing Santa’s elves for underprivileged children.

Mark Fox, head women’s basketball coach, and Lonnie Isaac ’93, head tennis coach, both attend Koerner Heights Church in Newton, which is participating in “Operation Christmas Child,” a project of Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian aid organization.

The coaches help lead Bethel’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter and “decided that Operation Christmas Child might be a good project for our FCA group to spearhead here on campus,” Fox said.

Operation Christmas Child is sometimes called “Shoebox Ministry,” because donors are asked to collect small gifts that fit into a shoebox.

“The program is about sending shoeboxes filled with gifts to parts of the world where children may not otherwise receive a gift,” Isaac said. “The gifts do not have to be extravagant -- you simply fill a shoebox with some things you think a young child might like.”

FCA has invited anyone interested -- individuals, teams, mods or halls, faculty or staff members -- to join in the project. Bethel FCA’s goal is to put together 50 boxes from the college.

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In related news, for the third consecutive year, Bethel has been named a Champions of Character Five-Star Institution by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. For that news story, go here.

Miller qualifies for fourth straight trip to forensics nationals

Bethel has qualified its first forensics competitor for the 2013 national tournament after a weekend at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Oct. 20-21.

Audra Miller, senior from Hesston, will be making her fourth straight appearance at the American Forensic Association-National Individual Events Tournament next spring after a first-place finish in After Dinner Speaking on the second day of the Missouri Mule-Dale Carnegie Swing Tournament.

In the first part of the swing, Miller placed second in After Dinner Speaking.

Also on the first day, Marike Stucky, junior from Moundridge, was third in Prose Interpretation; Aaron Rudeen, senior from Osage City, and Julia Miller, senior from Hesston, fourth in Duo Interpretation; and Hank Unruh, junior from Newton, sixth in Extemporaneous Speaking.

On the second day, Stucky took third in Program of Oral Interpretation and sixth in Prose Interpretation, Rudeen and J. Miller fourth in Duo Interpretation, and Unruh fifth in Persuasive Speaking.

Hannah Brinker, freshman from Shawnee, also competed both days.

Bethel was one of 14 schools taking part in Parts I and II of the swing tournament.

New Bethel Christmas CD coming: ‘Nights Of Wonder’

A two-CD set titled “Nights of Wonder: Music of the Christmas Fests at Bethel College” will be available in December.

The popularly titled Christmas Fest began in 1968 with an Olde English Christmas Feast that featured the Madrigal Singers. It was held in the Student Union in the basement of Memorial Hall with a night for the general public in addition to the annual Christmas banquet for students.

An additional night for the community was added the following year and, in 1970, the event moved to Jolliffe Auditorium upstairs. Until it ended in 1999, Christmas Fest featured a variety of themes, including a Dickensian motif several times, an international focus, cantatas, a midnight mass, opera, La Posada and other emphases.

The CD set will include music from nine of the most recent 20 Christmas Fests, selected on the basis of recording quality (the first in 1979) and featuring a variety of vocal and instrumental groups. Examples include “Gloria” performed by the Concert Choir, a brass ensemble and percussion in 1983; an excerpt from Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto” played by the Sinfonia in 1990; “O Holy Night” by the Concert Choir and Sinfonia plus Newton Community Children’s Choir in 1995; and “I Saw Three Ships” featuring the Concert Choir, bells, percussion and four-hand piano in 1996.

Marles Preheim ’55, North Newton, professor emeritus of music who taught at the college from 1977-1999, led the project. Ilene Schmidt ’54, North Newton, longtime administrative assistant in the President’s Office, provided assistance. Robert W. Regier ’52, professor emeritus of art, designed the cover. The Bethel College Women’s Association (BCWA) is helping with promotion, distribution and financial support.

The December issue of “Thresher E-View” will include specifics about cost and availability. All proceeds will benefit the college through BCWA.

Mark your calendar for Fall Fest 2013 and 2014

Next year’s Fall Festival fair on campus will be held Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. Taste of Newton will take place Thursday evening, Oct. 3.

Fall Fest will be later in fall the following year, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, the first weekend in October with a home football game, as scheduled by the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. Taste of Newton will take place Thursday evening, Oct. 16.

The last weekend of September 2014 was another option, but conflicted with the Bethel College Corporation meeting and did not allow time to rehearse for a musical and to have sufficient financial data to present to the Board of Directors, which meets in conjunction with Fall Festival.