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Bethel receives largest-ever gift from Sundquist estate

March 30th, 2022

Bethel President Jon C. Gering

A gift of $7.25 million from the estate of Dorotha and Grant Sundquist of Independence, Iowa, will provide direct financial support to students in Bethel's Career Pathways initiative.

President Jon C. Gering announced the gift, the largest single gift in institutional history, in a press conference on campus March 30.

“Across time, Bethel has benefited from the generosity of its alumni, donors, the broader church community, and foundations,” Gering said.

“At critical moments in the history of the college, people have provided financial gifts that sustained and formed the institution.”

The funds will go to Bethel’s endowment to be used for student scholarships.

“This is a transformative gift,” Gering continued, “a portion of which will be used to provide direct financial support for career and vocational development of students in all academic majors through the Career Pathways program.”

Career Pathways, now entering its second pilot year, provides on- and off-campus employment opportunities, financial support and vocational discernment for full-time residential students.

Megan Kershner, dean of vocational development (as of July 1, 2022), is leading the process of making this program a permanent part of the Bethel College experience by fall 2024.

Dorotha (Huebert) Sundquist, who died Nov. 4, 2020, in Independence, Iowa, was a 1957 graduate of Bethel College.

Sundquist was born and raised in Henderson, Neb., where she graduated from Henderson High School. She attended the University of Nebraska-York and Kearney State College, earning a teaching degree.

She taught public school for four years before going to Bethel, where she received a degree in medical technology.

After completing her technical training, she was the first medical technician at her hometown hospital in Henderson and also worked at Bethel Deaconess Hospital in Newton.

Over the years, she worked and taught in the medical technology field in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Independence, Iowa.

In 1967, she married Grant L. Sundquist. They built a successful business, Bloom Manufacturing Inc. of Independence, which produces custom-made winches. The business sold in 2000. Grant Sundquist died in 2003.

During their life together, Dorotha and Grant enjoyed traveling to many different locations with family and friends.

They shared a love of flying, and Dorotha was the first woman to have her pilot’s license at the Independence Airport.

She loved cooking, baking and sharing the results with others; needlepoint; chocolate; reading; and volunteering at the local library, among many other volunteer posts.

“Dorotha was a remarkable, informed and wise woman,” said Bethel Vice President for Institutional Advancement Pam Tieszen. “It was a privilege to spend time with her.

“Dorotha Sundquist was ahead of her time in applying her knowledge, curiosity and interest to her life’s work. Her gifts transformed hospital labs, the family business and [local] communities.

“Her active role in her community, in fundraisers and at voting polls demonstrate how she made a difference wherever she was planted.

“Dorotha exemplifies the Bethel College graduate, and now Dorotha and Grant’s passing continues to impact Bethel College.”

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #15 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #31 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, both for 2021-22. Bethel was the only Kansas college or university selected for the American Association of College & Universities’ 2021 Institute on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, and has been named a TRHT Campus Center. For more information, see




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.