NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College welcomed students back to campus at the start of this quasquicentennial (125th) year with major improvements to a central facility – Schultz Student Center.
SSC comprises the cafeteria, bookstore and Mojo’s coffee shop, in addition to two conference rooms. It was named for one of Bethel’s longest-serving presidents, Harold J. Schultz (1971-91). Schultz will be the convocation speaker Friday, Sept. 14, the same day the student center – completed in 1979 – will be rededicated.
For that Sept. 14 convo, current Bethel President Perry D. White asked Schultz to “reflect on his time at Bethel and the challenges and joys that might help us learn more about our history or traditions, and help us connect to those who came before.”
Then Schultz will help the campus community officially recognize all the work that’s been done over the summer to make SSC a significantly upgraded facility.
Perhaps of most interest to students: redesign of the cafeteria, everything from carpeting to chairs to dish return to menus.
Linda Srader, senior from Newton, likes the new set-up. The main serving line is more open, with food choices posted over it on a digital board, “so you can stand back and read it and make your choices instead of being stuck in the line.”
Miriam Weaverdyck, senior from Ann Arbor, Mich., also likes being able to easily see what the food options are, while Clarie Koehn, junior from Cottonwood Falls, brought nods of agreement when she expressed appreciation for the expanded salad bar.
Elsewhere in the building, there’s new carpet, lighting, signage and furniture and a somewhat rearranged floor plan. What used to be the lobby has been turned into the First Bank Conference Room, thanks to a generous gift from First Bank of Newton.
The new lobby area, complete with brand-new furniture, is closer to the cafeteria in the spot where students used to pile their backpacks before going inside for a meal – so new shelves on the opposite side of the cafeteria doors can now accommodate those backpacks.
The Bethel College Women’s Association is the sponsor of a new Alumni Spotlight wall – a rotating display highlighting the accomplishments of Bethel alumni. The first five to be featured are Rachel Kasper Fitzsimons, Astoria, N.Y., Broadway actress (she uses the stage name Rachel de Benedet); G. John Dick, Claremont, Calif., NASA scientist; Toshihiro Fukudome, Tokyo, international businessman; Daniel Hege, Jamesville, N.Y., conductor of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra; and Rick McNary, Potwin, pastor and founder of the anti-hunger charity Numana Inc.
The opposite wall illustrates Bethel’s history and values through photos emphasizing six areas: the Administration Building, scholarship, spiritual life, relationships, pranks and commencement.
Sondra Bandy Koontz, vice president for development, said that numerous donors contributed in varied ways to make Schultz Student Center more comfortable and welcoming – especially for students but for the whole Bethel community as well.
Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 Forbes.com analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2012-13. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA.