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Krehbiel to speak at 126th Bethel commencement

May 7th, 2019

Dwight Krehbiel

The Class of 2019 chose for its commencement speaker a man who has been closely associated with the institution for more than 50 years.

Dwight Krehbiel, Ph.D., professor of psychology, came to Bethel as a student in 1965 and began teaching there in 1978. He recently announced he will retire at the end of this academic year.

He has titled his address “Why a Bethel Education? Careers, Professions and Vocations.”

Krehbiel grew up on a farm in the Moundridge area and pursued his interest in science at Bethel, graduating with a degree in natural sciences.

He spent two-and-a-half years with Mennonite Central Committee’s Teachers Abroad Program (TAP), from 1969-72 (seven months of French language study in Brussels, followed by two years teaching secondary school math and science in Bondo, Democratic Republic of Congo).

Krehbiel then entered graduate school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, earning master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology, specializing in physiological psychology (major) and animal behavior (minor), along with (outside psychology) biochemistry and neurochemistry.

When Krehbiel joined Doug Penner in the psychology department, it marked the first time Bethel had two full-time faculty in the discipline, which has been true to the present. Krehbiel attained full-professor status in 1988.

Krehbiel has taught a number of courses in his 41 years at Bethel but may be most remembered by alumni for General Psychology (a general education course that launched many a psychology major), Animal Behavior and, especially, Applied Statistics.

Krehbiel leaves a legacy at Bethel of helping guide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) into the computer age, especially through a course he first developed, Computers in the Sciences; coordinating – and greatly expanding – the Summer Science Institute for high school students; a fruitful relationship, including several successful grant proposals, with the National Science Foundation; and a robust tradition of undergraduate research, as shown by a consistent record of Bethel students presenting annually at national undergraduate research conferences, including 16 last year at NCUR in Edmond, Okla., and several more this academic year.

Krehbiel has received numerous grants, awards and honors over the years, including, at Bethel, the Julius A. and Agatha Dyck Franz Service Award twice, in 1994 and 2007, and the Ralph P. Schrag Distinguished Teaching Award in 2002, as well as being named the David H. Richert Distinguished Scholar in 1989.

Krehbiel and his wife, Bonnie Krehbiel, also a member of Bethel’s Class of 1969, live in North Newton. They are the parents of Stephanie Krehbiel, a 1998 graduate.

On May 19, 123 seniors are scheduled to take part in the commencement exercises.

The 2019 Bethel graduation ceremonies begin with the baccalaureate service at 10 a.m. in Bethel College Mennonite Church. The formal commencement starts just before 4 p.m. with the traditional Walk Around the Green.

Commencement takes place in Thresher Stadium, or in Memorial Hall in case of inclement weather.

Both baccalaureate and commencement are open to the public.

Baccalaureate pre-service music features members of the Class of 2019, with instrumental solos by Elijah Brockway, McPherson (bass violin), Billie Selichnow, Wichita (trombone), and Neil Smucker, North Newton (flute).


Other music during the service is by the Bethel College Concert Choir.


This year’s baccalaureate theme is: “Just keep rolling on,” based on an original poem by graduating senior Tawon Green, which will be incorporated into the service. 


Reflections will be offered by graduating seniors Jade Brown, Sanford, Fla., Nathan Kroeker, Augusta, and Kiera Broehl, Broken Arrow, Okla.


The service will conclude with the traditional blessing for and candlelighting by seniors.


Members of the baccalaureate planning committee are graduating seniors Candy Dao, Salina, Tawon Green, Moore, Okla., Gabriel Johnson, Abilene (senior class representative), Madison McDowell, Basehor, and Abigail Pineda, Malone, Texas, with Bethel campus pastor Peter Goerzen.


The commencement program begins at 4 p.m. with music by the Thresher Brass Quintet, made up of alumni musicians.


Riley Schmieder, graduating senior from Wellman, Iowa, will give the invocation, and Julio Martinez, graduating senior from Phoenix, will offer the benediction. There will also be a presentation of the Ralph P. Schrag Distinguished Teaching Award.


Other Commencement Weekend events open to the public are the Senior Art Exhibit, including a reception in the Regier Art Gallery area, May 17 from 7-9 p.m., featuring work by Jesus Alba, Dallas, Sarah Booth, Goessel, Joshua Clay, Escondido, Calif., Katrina Heinrichs, Hesston, Jordan Hill, Augusta, Austin Prouty, Newton, Rebecca Schrag, Newton, and Lauren Woodward, Highlands Ranch, Colo.; and the nurses’ pinning ceremony and reception, May 18 at 2 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium. The gallery and auditorium are in Luyken Fine Arts Center.

The Regier Gallery, as well as Thresher Shop and Mojo’s Coffee in Schultz Student Center, will be open extra hours during the weekend. Kauffman Museum invites campus visitors to take advantage of the final weekend for the special exhibit “Campaign for a New China: Posters from the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976” and to view the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” and “Mirror of the Martyrs.” Museum hours are Friday, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 1:30-4:30 p.m.

Bethel College is the only Kansas private college listed in the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2018-19. 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.