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Schlabaugh and Flickner receive faculty awards

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A highlight of Bethel College’s annual Commencement celebration is presentation of two faculty awards, which this year went to Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, professor of music, and Diane Flickner, athletic director and associate professor of health and physical education.

The Ralph P. Schrag Distinguished Teaching Award is given annually to a faculty member who has made an outstanding contribution to teaching. Schlabaugh, this year’s recipient, works one-on-one with piano students and teaches courses in music theory and history, piano pedagogy and class piano while maintaining an active performance schedule, both as a soloist and a collaborator with other musicians.

Brad Born, interim vice president for academic affairs, presented Schlabaugh with the award. “Karen is not only ‘a great professional musician,’ as one student has put it,” Born said. “She is also a gifted and dedicated teacher, one who helps students nurture their own musical expertise and expression.”

Schlabaugh earned her bachelor’s degree from Oberlin (Ohio) College’s Conservatory of Music in 1970, a master’s degree in music from Ithaca (N.Y.) College in 1974 and a doctorate in music from the University of Iowa in 1981. She also spent a semester studying at the Royal College of Music in London with the support of an alumni fellowship from Oberlin.

Since earning her doctorate, Schlabaugh has had numerous performance opportunities. She and her husband Merle, Bethel professor of German, lived for a year in Weierhof, Germany, where she studied organ. She has played chamber music in Michigan, Wisconsin and New York. Her work with colleagues in Wichita has led to numerous performing engagements. Locally, Schlabaugh has appeared twice as a soloist with the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra and is a regular performer in the Summer Harvey County Music Festival concerts.

Most recently, she is the pianist for a CD of “French Recital Favorites” for clarinet and piano, released last June with clarinetist James Jones of Wichita on the Centaur Records label.

Schlabaugh’s teaching career includes several years on the faculty of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., two years as a private piano teacher in Kalona, Iowa, and 10 years on the faculty of Tabor College. She has been a full-time faculty member at Bethel since 1994 and has served as music department chairperson since 1998.

“I try to help my students understand that studying the structure and history of music will help them to become better musicians themselves,” Schlabaugh said, “because they will be able use knowledge they gain to express the emotional depth of the music more effectively."

She describes her philosophy of music education in the context of a liberal arts education: “I believe that liberal arts students learn about critical thinking, about the reading of texts in many disciplines, about the natural world around them and about the possibilities of living with compassion in the modern world. I want to work with students who understand and care about the world in which they live, even if I wish at times they had more time to spend in the practice room.”

“I feel deeply honored to receive the award,” Schlabaugh added. “I work very hard to make sure that students feel supported, encouraged and excited about their work, and to be recognized for my work is very gratifying.”

The other faculty award for 2006, the Julius A. and Agatha Dyck Franz Community Service Award, went to Diane Flickner. Fans who have come to the Bethel College campus for a football or soccer game or a track meet at Thresher Stadium in the past year in large part have Flickner to thank.

Born also presented Flickner’s award during the May 21 Commencement ceremonies. The Franz Award goes to a faculty member who has made an outstanding contribution to the community in an extracurricular setting.

While Born noted Flickner’s contributions to Bethel College in coaching, classroom teaching and program directing, he particularly recognized her for her work in planning the new sports complex, which opened last fall.

As the endowment chairperson for the stadium project, Flickner’s position on the planning committee was central to the project’s success, Born said. Her roles ranged from discussing finances to working with current students on how to make the stadium most accessible to the student body. Faced with the daunting task of integrating the athletic, academic, fiscal and social implications of the stadium project into a coherent whole, Flickner’s vision was driven by her emphasis on community-building, Born added.

“The Bethel College Sports Complex is about shaping our identity as a school and as a community of learners,” said Flickner, “and I can’t think of anything more motivating than assisting in the success of others and playing a role in the development of young people. This alone was the motivating force behind the sports complex project and continues to be the reason why I like what I do at Bethel.”

Flickner earned her B.S. in physical education and biology from Fort Hays State University in 1972 and her M.S. from Kansas State University in 1974. After teaching and coaching at Buhler High School, she began her Bethel career in 1979 as head volleyball coach and instructor of health and physical education. Her volleyball teams were among the most successful in the college’s history.

She assumed the position of athletic director in 1990. Since then, she has been recognized as Kansas Collegiate Athletics Conference Athletic Director of the Year eight times, 1994-97, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005. In addition to her roles at the college, Flickner serves as second vice president of the KCAC Governing Council.

“I feel fortunate to have been afforded the opportunities that I have had at Bethel College,” said Flickner. “The experiences are extremely rewarding and meaningful to me. The common denominator is working with dedicated, caring people and having the opportunity touch the lives of students in a way that can make a positive difference for them. I continue to be so impressed with the commitment to excellence in all that we do at Bethel College.”

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at

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