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Meeting virtually, board approves new major

April 28th, 2020

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Like most boards across the country, Bethel College’s Board of Directors held its spring 2020 meetings via videoconference, April 2-4.

One significant decision was approval of a new major, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, pending subsequent approval by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Bethel’s accrediting body, which it did in mid-April.

This move reflects one of the strongest career interests in both prospective students and current students, that of health-care sector professions (such as medicine, dentistry, physical therapy and optometry).

Many prerequisites for entrance into these professional schools fall within biology and chemistry. The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major is intended to serve as a hybrid of these two disciplines that provides a balanced approach of both sciences.

“Other schools have found this type of major to be popular, and successful for having students admitted to professional schools,” said Robert Milliman, Ph.D., Bethel vice president for academic affairs.

“I am very excited about the Biochem major. It will especially will help students interested in health professions, particularly if they are considering further education.”

In other action, the Bethel board approved a strategic plan for Communications and Marketing, and a new brand identity proposal to be implemented over the next number of months.

The board also approved granting tenure to Jennifer Chappell Deckert, Ph.D. (social work), and Christine Crouse-Dick, Ph.D. (communication arts). Crouse-Dick and Kathryn Layman, Ph.D. (chemistry/physics), were both promoted from associate professor to full professor.

The board welcomed new member Diana Schunn, Whitewater, representing Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA.

“The actions taken by the board benefit Bethel College in many ways,” said President Jon Gering. “I am grateful for their continued leadership and commitment to 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 is the highest ranked Kansas private college, at #12, in Washington Monthly, Top 200 Bachelor’s Colleges; ranks at #23 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest; is’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; stands at #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities listed by lendEDU as “Best for Financial Aid”; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to; and earned its second-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star gold award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2019-20. 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.