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Bethel College announces final results of program review

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Bethel College president E. LaVerne Epp and vice president for academic affairs John Sheriff on Feb. 1 announced the final results of the college’s academic program review. "Academic excellence is one of Bethel College’s distinctives," said Epp. "By ensuring that our programs are aligned with our mission and our core strengths--including student-centeredness and relevance in a changing world--we enhance the integrity of our claim to academic excellence."

The program review team, comprised of four faculty members and three administrators, made its preliminary decisions public on Dec. 16, 2004. At that time, Bethel College faculty requested more time to process the review findings.

The team took comments from faculty, staff, students and constituents until Jan. 22. Although the team will not publish its final report until Feb. 8, it shared its decisions with faculty, staff and students today.

"The input we received and the commitment to our original objective allowed the team to move more quickly on these decisions than we had anticipated," Epp said. "We set Feb. 8 as the original date because we wanted to announce final results only after everyone was back from interterm.

"But with the spring semester starting today [Feb. 1], everyone was anxious to move forward," he continued. "In talking with both faculty and students, we determined that proceeding without a formal report was preferable to waiting.

"The team reviewed the preliminary decisions and took all comments into consideration, while maintaining the primary goal of the program review: enhancement of quality, and alignment with Bethel College’s mission and core strengths and with external demand."

Although most of the preliminary decisions remain, there were several changes announced.

Majors and minors will continue to be offered in German and Spanish. "Both language programs will be reshaped to include study abroad and senior project requirements that will strengthen them," said Sheriff.

Global Peace and Justice Studies will be redesigned as a minor in Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies linked to the Bible and Religion department, for "strong connection and correlation with Bethel’s Anabaptist heritage," Sheriff said.

"A rigorous minor will ensure a balance of theory, scholarship and peace practice, and complement all other majors at Bethel," he added.

Physics will continue to be offered as a major, with the program reshaped to have a stronger focus on Pre-Engineering and Pre-Medicine.

The instrumental music faculty position will be retained. "The Music program director will work with the review team to achieve efficiency and to develop a plan for better program visibility in the community," Sheriff said.

"As a college, we will have stronger, more focused programs," he concluded. "Across the curriculum, our programs will be more consistent in requirements and rigor, and our students will be better served."

"These outcomes constitute a comprehensive curriculum plan for Bethel College that is relevant, visionary and innovative," Epp added. "This is the beginning of an ongoing curriculum process for a vibrant and growing college, and is at the heart of Bethel’s future success."

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