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Bethel gives faculty awards for distinguished scholarship, teaching

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College recognized two faculty members with special awards at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, professor of music and chair of the music department, received the David H. Richert Distinguished Scholar Award for her “ record of distinguished creative performance,” said Brad Born, Bethel vice president for academic affairs. The Richert Award is given periodically (the last time in 2013).

Schlabaugh “has sustained an active piano performance schedule, as both a soloist and a collaborator with other musicians,” Born went on.

“In the last 10 years, Karen has played in recitals and concerts at 30 colleges and universities in 15 states. She [frequently performs] with music colleague and clarinetist Suzanne Tirk of the University of Oklahoma. Her collaborative piano … recitals [have brought her together] with many colleagues from numerous other institutions of higher education and with several Bethel music faculty.”

Schlabaugh often plays locally as well, including with the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra, at the Harvey Festival and at Bethel’s annual Masterworks concert.

“Karen’s musical performance has served an integral teaching function,” Born added, “most obvious in her frequent accompaniment for student recitals, for which she plays at the same standard of technical proficiency and artistry that characterizes all of her piano performance.

“Students who have studied with Karen in her studio appreciate that link between her skill in performance and effectiveness of instruction. A student remark that links Karen’s skill as a performer to her inspiration as a teacher was: ‘My skills, performance, technique and repertoire improved vastly. … Karen really knows her stuff. And she’s the best pianist I’ve ever met.’”

Born presented Schlabaugh with the Richert Award “[to signal] our respect and admiration for your achievement. We thank you for modeling distinguished scholarship and … for integrating your life of scholarship into your vocation of teaching at Bethel College.”

Born also presented the Ralph P. Schrag Distinguished Teaching Award, given each year at commencement to recognize a Bethel faculty member who has made “an outstanding contribution to teaching” and to “affirm the importance that Bethel places on excellent teaching by our faculty and learning by our students.”

The 2015 Ralph P. Schrag Distinguished Teaching Award went to Daniel P. Quinlin, professor of languages.

Quinlin came to Bethel 24 years ago for a one-year term as a sabbatical replacement, assuming he would then move on to a permanent position elsewhere, Born said.

A number of years ago, Quinlin wrote in a self-assessment that reflected on the course his vocational life actually took: “I’m still here [at Bethel]. And I couldn’t be more grateful for God’s plans.” Born said, “Dan, we share that sentiment.”

Born continued, “Dan’s first-year experience of coming to Bethel to serve a curricular need, then adjusting to a reconfigured job with an expanded advising role, is indicative of his unique blending of positions and areas of interest.”

Quinlin has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and advanced training in historical linguistics. He has taught koine Greek and German for Bethel’s languages department as well as Structure and Development of the English Language for the literary studies department.

“While his teaching excellence in those areas of specialization is commendable, more remarkable is Dan’s consistently high teaching performance across a wide range of courses, and serving the full spectrum of Bethel students, from under-prepared first-year freshmen in the Fundamentals of Study Skills class to seniors taking the capstone course Basic Issues of Faith and Life,” Born said.

“Throughout that wide-ranging service, Dan remains centered in his commitment to student learning. As he has written: ‘My experiences at Bethel have taught me … that my joy in teaching does not come solely from the impartation of my love for language; the deeper joy is the joy of working with students and challenging them to discover the language of learning.’”

Quinlin is director of academic advising and academic support. In that role, he coordinates the team of first-year seminar instructors and liberal education advisers for freshman students.

He has implemented new programs intended to help under-prepared students succeed – for example, adopting new software that builds reading comprehension; placing tutors in the all-freshman residence hall and football study hall; and pairing students with retired community-member mentors.

Quinlin successfully wrote a Teaching Development Grant that he will use this fall to coordinate instruction among the faculty for a new learning community for academically at-risk students.

“While giving leadership to these broader institutional efforts in advising and academic support, Dan remains a highly effective classroom instructor, as judged by students in their course evaluations,” Born said. “A consistent theme in students’ response is their admiration for his mastery of content, as in one student’s remark that ‘Dan Quinlin has ridiculous knowledge.’

“They appreciate that he imparts that knowledge in ways that invite their engagement and inspire their learning. One student said, ‘Dan . . . relates his deep knowledge of the subject to us so well. But not only does he know what he’s talking about and how to talk about it, but I can tell he genuinely enjoys it – which makes all the difference.”

“Thank you for making such a difference, by teaching so well and with such joy,” Born said as he presented the award.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2014-15 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2014-15. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.