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Capital campaign launches with seven-figure gift

September 13th, 2019

Becki and Gary Dick of Baldwin City


As Bethel College moves full steam ahead with its Engage the Future capital campaign, a significant gift from two Baldwin City alumni has boosted the effort.

The Dick Living Trust has made a commitment of $1.5 million toward the campaign, which is focused on student wellness (physical, spiritual, emotional), information technology upgrades, academic program initiatives and annual giving.

Brad Kohlman, Bethel vice president for institutional advancement, said, “This is the type of commitment that is transformational to our institution’s present and its future.”

He added that Engage the Future moves forward with “100 percent involvement and support of the Board of Directors.”

The tangible centerpiece of the campaign is construction of a campus activity and wellness center.

Becki and Gary Dick are the trustees of the Dick Living Trust.

One of the reasons for their financial commitment, said Becki Dick, is that “[the center] will enhance recruitment of student-athletes and the experience for everyone at Bethel. 

“It shows Bethel’s commitment to students’ physical health and the role that plays in students’ mental health and quest for knowledge – in short, to nurturing the needs of the whole student.”

The proposed new wellness center is “a facility that can be used by all,” Gary Dick said. “We both believe access to a facility that promotes physical health is an important part of a well-rounded college experience, as reflected in the capital campaign’s goal of ‘strengthening minds, bodies and communities.’”

Becki Dick was raised in the Newton area. Her father, Robert Schmidt, taught chemistry at Bethel College. Gary grew up in the Buhler area.

Becki is a Bethel graduate (1978) and Gary attended Bethel for three years, finishing his degree at Kansas State University. Both were members of Bethel’s tennis team, as was their son, Nathan Dick, who graduated from Bethel in 2011.

They also have two daughters – Nathan’s twin, Tessa, and Jena.

The Dicks moved to Lawrence in 1984. In 1993, Gary realized his goal of starting his own manufacturing company – Custom Mobile Equipment, Inc., which makes Versa-Lift® forklifts.

Custom Mobile Equipment is located in Baldwin City, where the Dicks have lived since 1998.

“A gift of this size will positively impact students for generations to come,” Kohlman said, “as Bethel prepares them for meaningful lives of work and service through faith formation, the liberal arts and practical experience in career pathways.”

Bethel College, a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887, is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel is the highest-listed Kansas private college listed in Washington Monthly’s “Top Bachelor’s Colleges” for 2019-20 and according to, is the highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates. 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.