The combination of community, service, and academics are what stand out to me about [being a] Thresher. With small classes, attentive professors, and the focus on service…students get the opportunity to excel in multiple areas.
Cassidy McFadden ’12
The James A. Will Family Academic Center, the second oldest building on campus, housed all the sciences before Krehbiel Science Center was completed in 2002. After undergoing a $5 million renovation with an addition, the former Science Hall was dedicated Oct. 13, 2012, as the Academic Center. It contains faculty offices and classrooms for Bible and religion, business, history, social work and teacher education; a floor in the addition dedicated to nursing education, with faculty offices, classrooms and state-of-the-art simulation labs; the Academic Health Center; student and faculty lounges; the Center for Academic Development; Career Services/Experiential Learning office; and Mac and PC labs for student use.
The Administration Building cornerstone was laid in 1888, making it the oldest building currently standing on campus. It is the dominating landmark of the college and one of its primary visual symbols. The building, constructed of native limestone, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It houses the chapel with its historic stained glass windows and Dobson pipe organ, on the second floor. On the main floor can be found the offices of the president, academic dean, registrar and business manager, the business office and the financial aid office, as well as the suite of offices for development, advancement and Church Relations. The Office of Alumni Relations is on the top floor and the office suite for Student Life, including the campus minister, is on the ground level. The Ad Building also contains faculty and staff lounges, classrooms and faculty offices for literary studies and foreign language.
Agape Center in Richert House, dedicated to campus ministries, is located next to the Fine Arts Center on College Avenue. The house originally was home of Bethel’s legendary math professor, David H.
Uncle Davy Richert, who taught at Bethel from 1906-56. Since then, it served as faculty housing, briefly hosted the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution and most recently provided offices for retired faculty. The space was renovated in 2009 with the help of Bethel College Mennonite Church, and today students use the space as a gathering place for Bible studies, prayer time and discussions.
Bethel College Mennonite Church was founded in 1897 by Bethel College faculty and administrators. The congregation met in the Administration Building chapel for almost 60 years, completing the present building in 1956. It is located just past the south end of the Green, and is built of native limestone. As its name and history indicate, BCMC has always enjoyed a close relationship with Bethel College. BCMC traditionally hosts the annual baccalaureate service during commencement weekend in its sanctuary. The annual German Advent celebration, planned and carried out by Bethel’s German department, and the annual sing-along of Christmas portions of Handel’s Messiah, led by Bethel music faculty and students, also take place at BCMC.
Centennial Plaza was completed in conjunction with other capital improvements at roughly the time of Bethel College’s centennial celebration in 1988 — hence its name. Centennial Plaza is a central meeting place during Fall Festival, the location of outdoor barbecues for the whole campus community at various times during the school year, usually has a lighted Christmas tree in its center during December and has even been known to serve as a temporary hockey rink.
The Fine Arts Center (FAC) with its distinctive circular structure houses the music, drama and communication arts departments, with both faculty offices and classrooms. It includes a choir practice room, an art gallery and lounge area, a music library, a theater props area, a drama/dance lab and practice studios for instrumental music. One of the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts locations is in the Fine Arts Center. The offices and work areas of the student newspaper, the Bethel Collegian, and yearbook, the Bethel Thresher, are located in the Fine Arts Center as is the radio station, KBCU FM 88.1. The center of the building is Krehbiel Auditorium, which is frequently the location of evening lectures and concerts, as well as convocation Mondays and Fridays at 11 a.m. during the school year. All plays and musical theater performances take place in Krehbiel Auditorium, as do many concerts, recitals, dance performances and forensics competitions involving students. Krehbiel Auditorium also hosts community events, such as Life Enrichment activities for senior citizens and video conferences, throughout the year.
The Franz General Shop was renovated in 1992 into the Franz Art Center, a larger, centralized facility for the various sections of the art department, including drawing/painting and ceramics studios, a photo lab and art faculty offices. A more recent addition on the east side of the building is wood-fired kilns used for ceramics and pottery.
When fans enter the Thresher Sports Complex through the doors at the ticket office, they come out onto Franz Plaza, named for a gift from Minnie and Robert Franz. Franz Plaza, a circular area with benches, serves as a festive gathering spot before games and a place to go for food, Bethel memorabilia and visiting at half-time. There is a small concession stand as well as public restrooms in the entry complex off Franz Plaza.
Originally a residence hall, Goering Hall, named for Adolph G. Goering, recently underwent renovation as part of the campaign to build the Thresher Sports Complex. It was converted into the hub of the Bethel College athletic department. Goering Hall now houses the office of the athletic director, coaches’ offices, networked classrooms and the Booster Club Conference Room. Facilities also include remodeled football locker rooms for the Threshers and visitors, locker rooms for other sports, a training room and a cutting-edge weight room with a variety of free weights and machines.
Goerz House was the first private residence built on the Bethel College campus, in 1893, by Rev. David and Helene Goerz. David Goerz was a Bethel founder and one of the chief promoters of higher education among U.S. Mennonites and he served as Bethel’s business manager until 1910. Bethel College bought the house (located directly south of Bethel College Mennonite Church) from the Goerz family in 1921 and has used it as a student residence, a faculty residence and a guest house. It now servces as the president’s residence.
Before there was the Green in front of the Administration Building, an interurban trolley line came almost up to the building’s steps. In 1961, trolley service ended and the street was closed from Bethel College Mennonite Church to the Ad Building. Development of the Green began in 1962, with trees planted and the fountain plaza area and walkway added. Today the Green is the literal and figurative heart of the campus. The Green fills with tents, booths and people each fall for Fall Festival. At the end of fall semester, the Lighting of the Green, a ritual of lighting the Advent darkness with small candles in preparation for remembering Christ’s birth, takes place.
Haury Hall is located on the east side of the campus Green. It is mainly a residence hall with double and single rooms, several lounges with cable television (one with a fireplace), laundry facilities and a sun deck.
Kaufman House, located near the south end of the campus and across the street from Goerz House, houses the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR), a community mediation and training center. The house was built in the early 1930s at the beginning of the 20-year presidency of Edmund G. Kaufman and was home to him, his wife Hazel and their two children. After Hazel’s death in 1948, Kaufman renovated the house’s second floor for student housing. He deeded the house to Bethel in 1964 and it served as apartments for older students until summer 2002 when major renovations began in order to turn it into KIPCOR’s headquarters, according to the wishes of Kaufman’s third wife, Edna Ramseyer Kaufman, and her estate. KIPCOR moved into the house in summer 2003. In addition to staff offices, the house has a large meeting and conference room, mediation rooms and a kitchen.
Kauffman Museum, located across Main Street from Thresher Gym, was founded to preserve the natural and cultural history of the Great Plains. It is named for Charles
Uncle Carl Kauffman, founder and curator of the original Kauffman Museum, whose work has been incorporated into a greatly enlarged and reorganized exhibit program housed in a building completed in 1983. Approaching the museum, there is a tallgrass prairie reconstruction with more than 15 species of native grasses and 100 species of wildflowers. Inside the museum is the award-winning permanent exhibit
Of Land and People, which tells the story of the coming of the Mennonites from Europe to the central plains in the 1870s and their encounters with the prairie environment and its people; a permanent exhibit of Mennonite immigrant furniture; and numerous changing special exhibits. Nearby, on the grounds, is a historic farmstead with heritage flower and vegetable gardens and the 1875 Voth-Unruh-Fast House and 1886 Ratzlaff Barn. Kauffman Museum hosts public education events throughout the year, including a celebration of Kansas Day on the last Saturday in January and several Uncle Carl’s Camps, summer day camps for children of varying ages and interests.
Kidron Cottage is located across the street from the Fine Arts Center parking lot. It was built in 1950-51 using student-raised funds and student labor. It is available free for the use of Bethel College students and is a popular spot for hosting post-graduation receptions. Church and family groups may also use Kidron Cottage for a full or half day for a small fee. This happens mostly in the spring, summer and fall since although the building has a fireplace, it is not heated. To reserve the cottage, contact Ben Jones.
Krehbiel Science Center has two large lecture halls, classrooms, conference and seminar rooms, laboratories and offices for faculty in biology, chemistry, psychology and physics. It also houses the Mabee Observatory and the Lattner Conservatory.
Leisy Welcome Center (Admissions) is meant in its location and design to communicate hospitality and a warm invitation to participate in the life of Bethel College. The beautifully restored mission-style house is located at the far southern end of the campus, just past Bethel College Mennonite Church and Goerz House, the president’s home, so it has a beautiful vista of campus looking toward the Administration Building. Leisy is the home for offices of Admissions staff and the Leisy Conference Room and is the official campus welcome center.
The Maintenance Shop is attached to Franz Art Center on the north. The offices of the physical plant director and other maintenance staff, as well as the maintenance staff break room and equipment storage areas, are in this building.
The Mantz Library houses Bethel College’s main library collection. Interlibrary loan (ILL) and other technical research assistance is available from library staff there. The spacious Mantz Library lounge on the first floor is occasionally used for meetings or banquets where a smaller space than that found in the dining hall is desired, and is also the location of campus dances. The Mantz Library, completed in 1983, was built on to Bethel’s first free-standing library building, which now houses the Mennonite Library and Archives.
Memorial Grove was established at the main trailhead of Sand Creek Trail in 2003 as a place for small groups to meet around a fire for discussions or worship and also as a means to memorialize individuals, couples or groups who have had a significant relationship with Bethel College and/or the North Newton community. An engraved brick signifies that a contribution of $1,000 has been made in someone’s name. All-campus bonfires are held at Memorial Grove and at least one local church has its Easter sunrise service there. A gazebo complements the beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees that make this a special place for quiet reflection. Near Memorial Grove is the 11-foot tall sculpture
The Plainsman, carved out of the stump of a Siberian elm by North Newton sculptor John Gaeddert. If you are interested in reserving Memorial Grove for an outdoor event, contact Fred Goering in the Office of Development.
Memorial Hall was built to honor Bethel’s 50 anniversary in 1937. It hosts concerts, lectures and other community events in Joliffe Auditorium on the main floor, which has a seating capacity of 2,800. Commencement took place there until 2009. Mem Hall provides a second gym for athletic practices, off-season workouts and intramural sports. Also housed in the basement of Mem Hall are the Bethel College Wellness Center, which consists of a weight room and aerobic fitness room, the Harms Sports Medicine Center with a state-of-the-art athletic training facility. The offices of Institutional Communications are on the second floor in the front of Mem Hall.
The Mennonite Library and Archives, housed in what was Bethel College’s first free-standing library building and adjacent to Mantz Library, is open during regular business hours Monday–Thursday, open by appointment on Friday and closed on weekends. It has an extensive collection of Mennonite and Mennonite-related publications (books, periodicals, etc.) and genealogical materials. The projection room in the basement of the MLA is occasionally used for meetings or to screen films. Also in the basement is the Radio-Television (RTV) Lab, a recording studio for video and audio projects, and the home of Newton Channel 7.
Sand Creek Community Gardens includes a number of 20'x20' plots cultivated by Bethel students, faculty, staff and community members. Two plots are community-managed annual and native perennial flowerbeds. In addition to their own plots, gardeners care for landscaping around a garden shed, manage mulch and compost bins and are developing herb and perennial vegetable plots for shared use. The official governing body is an Advisory Council with representatives from the three sponsoring bodies: Bethel College (including student representatives), Bethel College Mennonite Church, and the City of North Newton. A three-person management team is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the gardens.
Sand Creek Trail was created starting in 1997, carved out of the overgrown vegetation along the old Kidron Canal and Sand Creek in the northeast corner of Bethel’s campus. It was built and is maintained by a group of campus and community volunteers. The trail goes for about two miles through mostly woodland (creekside and hedgerows) alongside wheat fields or the athletic practice fields. The main trailhead is at Memorial Grove, a picnic and campfire area across the vehicle bridge and just north of the maintenance buildings (a bit east of the tennis courts). The trail has several other access points, including the North end of Chisholm Park. In addition, the bike and walking trail that runs along Sand Creek in Newton between First Street and Centennial Park connects with a new trail between Centennial Park and Sand Creek Trail at the Memorial Grove trailhead.
Schmidt Track, named in honor of the Herbert and Mariam Schmidt family, existed before the Thresher Sports Complex was built. In its regenerated form, it is an 8-lane equal quadrant track. It is home to Bethel’s track team and is a popular venue for track meets for both the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and local high school events when the college schedule permits.
Joe W. Goering Field is Bethel’s lighted artificial turf field for football and men’s and women’s soccer. It is named for a long-time businessman, banker and community leader from Moundridge, Kan. Goering played football at Bethel and remained a staunch supporter of Bethel athletics until his death. His wife, three children and their families gave the financial naming gift in his honor. Joe W. Goering Field is ringed by Schmidt Track.
The largest area in Schultz Student Center is
The Caf, the student dining area overlooking the campus Green. Bethel College’s Food Service staff also cater banquets and meetings in this area, particularly when there are fewer students on campus (e.g., summer, breaks). Schultz Student Center also houses Thresher Bookstore, which serves as the ticket office for campus events and the location of Office Services; two conference rooms, including the newly-developed First Bank Conference Room; student mailboxes; an ATM; new photo galleries highlighting Bethel history and alumni accomplishments; and Mojo’s Coffee Bar.
Thresher Gymnasium is home to Thresher basketball and volleyball. It seats approximately 2,500. Thresher Gym houses the trophy case, across from the concession area, as well as four locker rooms and a training room for use by the Threshers and their competitors.
Thresher Stadium seats 2,000 with visitors’ seating adding 500. The stadium features a press box with state-of-the-art technology, an elevator, a large concessions area and public restrooms. The stadium is built from 417 pieces of pre-stressed concrete manufactured by Prestressed Concrete Inc. of Newton and earned public recognition for the company from its trade publication soon after the stadium opened.
Voth Hall is Bethel’s newest residence hall. It is structured in six modules — four-person suites with four suites per mod — and includes the resident director’s apartment. Voth features network-accessible suites, private restrooms, study areas, lounges, kitchen facilities, a centralized laundry area, zoned heating and cooling and an elevator.
Ward Tennis Center, built in 2010, has six courts with
12-foot extensions between them. A 12-foot walkway runs between the north
and south sides, black vinyl fencing and windscreen material skirt the
perimeter and the playing area is lit by LSI Courtsider lighting. The
courts are named for Marty Ward, who coached at Bethel 1985-99 and
established one of the most dominant tennis programs in the history of the
Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC).
Warkentin Court is built on the
module, or apartment, model. Each mod houses nine men or nine women and each has five bedrooms, a living/kitchen area and a bathroom. Warkentin has central air, cable television hook-ups and laundry facilities. Warkentin mods are reserved primarily for upper-level students.