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President White to leave at end of academic year

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College President Perry D. White has announced his plans to step down at the conclusion of the 2016–17 academic year, concluding seven years of service to the college.

“I intend to work closely with the board and campus constituency in preparation for this transition,” President White said. “I believe that the institution is in a good position to welcome the next institutional leader and appreciate the support Dalene and I have received during our time at Bethel.”

White informed the campus community of his decision in a message distributed Oct. 18.

“The board is extremely grateful to President White and Dalene for their commitment to Bethel during their tenure,” said Bethel Board of Directors Chair Heather Esau Zerger, Newton. “They have worked tirelessly both within the campus community and through their travels across the nation meeting with donors and alumni. We wish them the best in their future endeavors.”

White took office as Bethel’s 14th president in July 2010. He was previously vice president for external relations and admissions at Silver Lake College, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, from 2008-09.

During his presidency, Bethel completed numerous campus construction projects, including the opening of the James A. Will Family Academic Center, addition of new entrance signage, and renovations to Schultz Student Center and Luyken Fine Arts Center. Other campus improvements include upgrades within all of the residence halls, the addition of seating to the Ward Tennis Center and air-conditioning to Thresher Gym and Memorial Hall, and replacement of bleachers in Thresher Gym.

“We appreciate how Perry’s vision for the beautification of campus remarkably reshaped the campus visit and living experience, benefiting both current and prospective students,” Zerger said. “Dalene’s work with the volunteer crew contributed to boosting the overall impression of the campus and her assistance in the admissions and advancement offices during times of transition was invaluable.”

Under President White’s leadership, the college also added academic programs to include graphic design, sport management, accounting, RICHE (Research, Internships, Careers in Health and the Environment) and a re-energized online RN-to-BSN program. Extracurricular enhancements included the addition of softball, cheerleading and the athletic band.

White’s work with the Board of Directors included establishing a vision statement and reworking the mission and values statements as well as, in fall 2015, passing Bethel’s strategic plan, “Extending our Heritage, Expanding our Impact.” In support of this strategic plan and through his developing partnerships with area businesses and the Harvey County Economic Development Commission, President White brought to campus a summer 2016 symposium on nonprofit entrepreneurship, which featured Gary Schoeniger, co-author of Who Owns the Ice House?

According to Zerger, the board is currently identifying appropriate members for a presidential search committee.

“The board intends to proceed expeditiously with the search process,” Zerger said.

White has a bachelor of arts in music education from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, and earned a master of music in choral conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a doctor of musical arts in choral conducting from the University of Oklahoma.

Between 1983 and 1998, White taught vocal music at the middle school, high school and college levels in Iowa, Missouri and Texas. He went to Monmouth (Illinois) College in 1998 as a professor of music. He was tapped for the broader administrative role of vice president for college advancement at Monmouth in 2004.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2016–17. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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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.