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Sheriff to serve third term as interim president

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – John K. Sheriff has been named interim president of Bethel College.

The Bethel College Board of Directors announced the appointment Jan. 18. Sheriff will take the reins Feb. 1, following current President Perry D. White’s resignation last fall and announcement earlier this month that he has accepted the position of CEO for Harmony Foundation International of Nashville, Tennessee.

“John’s history with the institution provides stability during this presidential search transition,” said Bethel Board Chair Brett Birky, Denver. “He has previously served in this role, successfully, and has continued to stay involved and engaged with the college.”

Sheriff, Ernest L. Leisy Professor Emeritus of English, served as interim president in 2005-06 and again in 2009-10. He is currently an estate planning associate in Bethel’s advancement and development office.

“John’s proven leadership and dedication to Bethel energizes the college’s forward progress while the Presidential Search Committee completes its work, ” Birky said.

Sheriff began teaching in the English department at Bethel in 1967, after graduating from Greenville (Illinois) College, a small, church-affiliated, liberal-arts school, and then earning a master’s degree at the University of Illinois. He also has a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma.

In 1997, Sheriff became interim academic dean, from which he moved to the permanent dean position until 2005. Barry Bartel, who became Bethel president in 2006, then named Sheriff executive vice president for institutional development.

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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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.