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Women’s Association revives endowment to bring guests to campus

February 13th, 2020

Legacy star

An endowment set up by the Bethel College Women's Association is helping bring three special guests to interact with students and community this semester.

BCWA has been a loyal college supporter for 80 years, in money raised and more.

Bernadette Barton, Ph.D., professor of sociology and gender studies at Morehead (Ky.) State University, presented in convocation Feb. 3 on how her research on marginalized groups (for example, LGBTQ people in the Bible Belt) has translated into work for social justice.

Hers was the first of three presentations this semester being sponsored in part by BCWA’s Carolyn Schultz Lectureship Endowment.

In addition to meeting with smaller groups of students, Barton also joined members of Harvey County's Lambda Health Initiative for lunch. 

Margaret Toews, BCWA treasurer, briefly explained the fund to the Feb. 3 convocation audience.

“Carolyn Schultz [the wife of former Bethel president Harold Schultz] was a leader with BCWA for 20 years in the 1970s and ’80s. To honor her work, BCWA started the lectureship endowment in the spring of 1991.”

The fund launched with a $15,000 gift from BCWA. By the early 2000s, it had grown enough to be used to sponsor lectures from 2004-07.

Beginning with the 2019-20 school year, BCWA decided to begin drawing from the endowment again, hoping to “renew interest among faculty in using this fund to bring lecturers and presenters to the Bethel campus or to fund lectures and presentations by Bethel faculty,” as Robert Milliman, Ph.D., Bethel vice president for academic affairs, wrote in an e-mail in September inviting faculty to apply.

After the successful application by Rachel Messer, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, to bring Barton to campus, the endowment will also help fund the visits of Ayesha Durrani, M.F.A., a Pakistani artist and educator, and Thea Groth, D.M.A., an instructor of bassoon at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa.

Groth will be on campus March 5-6. She will present a master class (open to the public) on musician health and injury prevention, March 5 at 11 a.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center. On March 6, she will join the Bethel College Philharmonia Orchestra for their 7:30 p.m. concert in Memorial Hall.

Durrani, a miniature painter, will have an exhibit of new work in the Regier Art Gallery in Luyken Fine Arts Center for one week, March 9-13. On March 10, she will give a public lecture, “Miniature Painting: The Art of Beauty,” at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building chapel, followed by a reception for her and the exhibit outside the gallery.

Adam V. Fontana, D.M.A., director of instrumental music, and Rachel Epp Buller, Ph.D., associate professor of visual art and design, were the faculty applicants, respectively.

Earlier this school year, BCWA Vice President Nadine Reimer-Penner wrote to Carolyn Schultz to tell her about the revival of the endowment and the plans for using the funds.

“Thank you so much for the exciting news of bringing outstanding women to the campus with the endowment fund,” Schultz, who lives in Kansas City, Mo., responded. “I wish I were closer to the campus to participate in the enrichment that the presenters will bring.

“My years working with the Bethel College Women’s Association were, indeed, an enriching experience. While I have been gone from Bethel for 28 years, I look back at my 20 years with the [BCWA] and realize that these women were empowered to take on projects that would enrich the college for years.

“Of all the women’s groups and clubs that I have been a part of, the [BCWA] is at the top. They were, and I assume are now, an energetic, creative and joyful group of women eager to take on any challenge to advance the 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.