Bethel College (Indiana)
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|Motto||With Christ at the Helm|
|Religious affiliation||Missionary Church|
|President||Dr. Gregg Chenoweth|
|Location||Mishawaka, Indiana, IN, USA
|Campus||suburban: 75 acres (0.30 km²)|
|Athletics||18 NAIA teams,
Bethel College, a Christian liberal arts college located in Mishawaka, Indiana, United States was established in 1947 and is affiliated with the Missionary Church. Bethel is a Christian community of learners dedicated to building lives of commitment for leadership in the church and the world. Bethel provides liberating academic and cocurricular programs to challenge the mind, enlarge the vision and equip the whole person for lifelong service.
Bethel College is a growing, dynamic, progressive institution committed to its mission as an evangelical Christian college and its covenant with the Missionary Church.The strategic vision for Bethel College focuses on a 10-year horizon. This vision is intended to provide clear direction for the college’s plans, actions, priorities and assignment of resources. Fundamentally, it is our vision that Bethel College retain its most valued characteristics of Christian community while it grows in stature and expands its influence.
To these ends, with Christ at the helm, we intend to focus our energies and resources toward developing an institution known for the following:
- Vibrant Community — Bethel College will be an institution of Christian higher education known for its spiritual vitality and vibrant community ethos. Programming in the areas of spiritual formation, life calling, social life, fitness and wellness, arts and culture, and intercultural competence will be further strengthened and developed over the next decade.
- Excellence in Teaching and Learning — It is our intent to build upon the college’s strong foundation as an institution committed to quality teaching and the model of faculty members who serve as guides to the educational journey of our students. We will invest and improve in the areas of outcomes assessment, qualified and effective faculty, and learning environments.
- Service to Others — We will strengthen our service to others on two fronts. First, we commit ourselves to strengthening our service to students by applying the principles of continuous quality improvement throughout the institution’s administrative and academic support systems. Second, we will seek to expand the college’s service to the community as a witness and testimony of our Christian faith through expanded programming in the areas of service learning, international ministry, and the investment of our personnel, facilities, expertise and reputation.
Mennonite Brethren in Christ (MBC) founder Daniel Brenneman first called for a training institute in 1893. Then, for many years, J. A. Huffman pressed the case for a Christian liberal arts college, even suggesting the name Bethel, meaning “house of God.” Formal church approval finally came in 1944, and land was purchased in Mishawaka, Indiana during 1946 under the leadership of Q. J. Everest, Seth Rohrer, and Warren Manges. Twenty-seven-year-old Woodrow I. Goodman (1947–1959) was appointed the first president, at that time the youngest in the United States.
Bethel College opened in the fall of 1947 with ninety-four students. During that same year, the MBC became the United Missionary Church. The Administration Building was completed in 1951, the first of many projects dependent upon sacrificial giving and volunteer labor.
Bethel established some 11 academic programs during its first decade, capped by the Teacher Education Program in 1955. Intercollegiate athletic programs were approved in 1958, with the first intercollegiate basketball game played in 1959.
On March 31, 1971, President Ray P. Pannabecker (1959–1974) and Dean Wayne J. Gerber welcomed North Central Association accreditation. Bethel College grew steadily until it reached an enrollment of about 500. The college flourished because of what President Steven R. Cramer has called its “human endowment” - an extremely loyal, faithful, and hard-working faculty, staff, administration, and Board of Trustees.
Bethel College continued moving forward under the presidencies of Albert J. Beutler (1974–1981), James A. Bennett (1982–1988), and Walter L. Weldy (interim 1988-1989). Among the more notable additions and innovations were the adult programs, the division of nursing, and the Otis Bowen Library, which anchored a new architectural style. In 1986, the baseball team won the first of what are now some 25 team national championships.
Bethel experienced a renaissance under the presidency of Norman V. Bridges (1989–2004). A dynamic team of administrators, repeated record enrollments, greatly expanded curricular offerings, the hiring of nationally known scholars, an aggressive, aesthetically attractive plan of campus development, and notable periods of spiritual renewal have helped make Bethel College a school of choice for many from the region.
In addition to a burgeoning traditional student body, adult and graduate degree programs have helped fuel the growth of the college. With notable new majors in Sign Language Interpreting, Environmental Biology, Criminal Justice, Philosophy, and Spanish complementing traditional strengths in Music, Theatre, Religion, Business, and the service professions, Bethel College increasingly reflects a national and international student body. The college also participates in a broad range of study abroad programs and annually sends out dozens of Task Force ministry teams around the world.
Dr. Steven R. Cramer (2004-2013)served as the sixth president of Bethel College. During his presidency enrollment continued to climb to more than 2,100 students, as Bethel continued to rise in its ranking of the Midwest’s Best Baccalaureate Colleges by U.S. News & World Report. Bethel study abroad offerings were expanded; the music department received NASM accreditation; and the campus became more intentional in its multi-ethnic programming. Cramer worked to secure the long-term financial future of Bethel during a period of national economic crisis.
The college was able to move forward with multiple building projects, including the Pannabecker Math and Science Laboratories, a new west campus entrance and a renovated Helm, the Lodge residence hall, a renovated Dining Commons, and an enlarged College Bookstore/ Coffee shop. The campus borders were also expanded with the purchase of approximately 13 acres to the south. There were several firsts during this time, such as the appointment of the first two female vice presidents, the launch of online degree programs, the visit from a sitting U.S. President (George W. Bush), and hosting the Missionary Church General Conference. In February 2011, the campus was once again touched by a profound spiritual revival.
In 2006, Bethel College was reorganized on a university model, divided into seven schools: Arts & Sciences, Business & Social Sciences, Education, Nursing, Religion & Philosophy, Adult Studies, and Graduate Studies. In 2013, these schools were reorganized and consolidated into two divisions: Natural & Social Sciences, Humanities & Education while the School of Nursing was retained.
A $6.9 million addition to the Middleton Hall of Science is just one in a long string of major construction and landscaping projects since the early 1990s, including Founders Village Apartments, the Middleton wing for Nursing, an enlarged Dining Commons, the Everest-Rohrer Chapel/Fine Arts Center, Wiekamp Athletic Center, Shiloh Prayer Chapel, the campus ponds and waterfall, Morey Soccer Field, Taylor Memorial Chapel, Jenkins Stadium, Sailor Residential Center, Miller/Moore Academic Center, and Sufficient Grounds Cafe and Campus Store. Several more projects are on the horizon, and a series of purchases have extended the main campus. The Elkhart campus and the nursing program at Grace College are two of several emerging extension centers for Bethel.
Organization and administration
Bethel is a part of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the Council of Independent Colleges. Bethel is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The institution also has specialized accreditation by The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).
Currently, Bethel is organized into three academic areas: Division of Natural & Social Sciences; Division of Humanities & Education; School of Nursing. Additionally, there are four graduate programs administered in conjunction with the schools through the Office of Graduate Studies.
There are approximately 2000 students distributed across these programs. About 1300 are traditional students pursuing bachelors degrees right after high school. 650 are non-traditional adult students who take classes on evenings and weekends which lead to bachelors or associate degrees. 250 are enrolled in graduate programs. The Bethel College faculty is composed of about 115 full-time members.
Bethel College offers undergraduate, graduate and adult degree programs across the spectrum of disciplines that characterizes American higher education at small colleges. The traditional academic majors include a substantial general education component which is typical of most liberal arts institutions. With some variation by major program, these students take courses in history, literature, philosophy, fine arts, communication (oral and written), psychology, sociology, science, mathematics, physical education, and foreign language. Furthermore, because of the college's identification with Christianity, all students take courses in Bible (Old and New Testament) and an introductory theology course. These general education courses provide a broad background across the disciplines upon which more depth is pursued in a major (or majors).
Bethel College teams are known the Pilots. The college is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) (NAIA Division II for basketball), the college competes in the Crossroads League, formerly known as the Mid-Central College Conference (MCC). The Pilots also compete as a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball, while cheerleading is offered for both men and women. Basketball, baseball, and softball games are broadcast by the Regional Radio Sports Network.
Bethel Athletics Mission Statement
- Bethel Athletics is dedicated to enhancing the mission, vision and purpose of the college.
- Bethel Athletics is committed to assisting in the transformation of lives into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
- Bethel Athletics is committed to assisting in producing and equipping student athletes for lifelong service, so that they may influence their teams, the campus, and ultimately their world for Christ.
- Bethel Athletics believes in the physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual development of all athletes.
- Bethel's coaches and staff are dedicated to performing at the highest possilbe level of excellence and to the best of their God-given abilities. They will aspire to glorify God in every aspect of their job.
- Bethel's coaches, athletes and fans will honor Christ through competitive Christ-like attitudes, sportsmanship, speech, and actions.
The Pilots' Athletic Accomplishments: (through the 2012-13 school year)
- 3 NAIA National Championships (Men's DII Basketball)
- 29 NCCAA National Championships
- 3 NAIA Individual National Champions (1 Women's Golf, 2 Men's Track)
- 191 NCCAA Individual National Champions (Tennis and Track & Field)
- 182 NAIA All-Americans
- 125 Academic All-Americans
- 315 NAIA Scholar-Athletes
- 10 NAIA National Players of the Week
- 30 National Coach of the Year awards (NAIA & NCCAA Combined)
- 59 Conference Regular Season Championship
In addition to athletic competition, Bethel College encourages athletes to undertake short-term missionary work. 45 short term missions trips/task force teams have been taken by teams within the athletic department.
- Jacob Bawa, former Nigerian ambassador to Spain, the Vatican and Chad
- David Smith, M.D., pediatric surgeon
- Tony Fuller, AP and Emmy® award-winning videographer/editor
- Todd Gongwer, speaker and author of “Lead … for God’s Sake”
- Emily Rose, vice president of development at the Bill of Rights Institute in Washington, D.C.
- William Hossler, former President of the Missionary Church
- John Moran, former President of the Missionary Church
- Eric Stults, pitcher for the San Diego Padres
- Justin Masterson, pitcher with the Cleveland Indians organization
- Eric Carpenter, MF for the Cleveland City Stars