Art department presents new award to two juniors

From left, Rachel Epp Buller, Vivian Leupp, Ron Leupp and April Powls, just outside Krehbiel Auditorium

Bethel College’s annual Awards Convocation, held April 29, included a new award set up in the Department of Visual Arts and Design – the Leslie Leupp Art Award.

Ron and Vivian Leupp established the award in honor of Ron’s brother Leslie Leupp.

Junior art majors Gracie Higgins, Tacoma, Wash., and April Powls, Garnett, Kan., are the recipients of the inaugural award.

Leslie Leupp received an associate of arts degree from Hesston (Kan.) College and then graduated from Bethel College in 1968 before going on to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree from Indiana University in metalsmithing and jewelry design.

He taught at Ball State University, Muncie, Ind., Indiana University and Texas Tech University, Lubbock, and then, from 1988 until his retirement in 2006, was head of Metals Arts in the School of Visual Arts at Penn State University.

A superb mentor, Leupp was nationally recognized for metal work and innovative jewelry design.

He received numerous awards, honors and grants, including a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He died unexpectedly in 2011.

Presenting the inaugural award on April 29, Dr. Rachel Epp Buller said, “The faculty of the visual arts and design department are extremely grateful to Ron and Vivian Leupp for establishing [this award], which honors two junior art majors for their strength and growth in the program, offering them financial support as they begin developing their senior bodies of work.”

The Leupps were able to be present for the presentation of the inaugural award.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel ranks at #23 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of “Best Regional Colleges Midwest” for 2023-24. Bethel was the first Kansas college or university to be named a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center, in 2021. For more information, see