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Bethel College alumni to lecture in psychology, math at Fall Festival

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Two Bethel College alumni who have spent the majority of their careers teaching and researching at graduate universities will deliver this year’s math and sciences lectures at Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Deborah Wiebe, Dallas, will give the first lecture at 10 a.m. in Room 16 of Krehbiel Science Center on the North Newton campus. Elias Toubassi, Tucson, Ariz., will speak at 11 a.m. in Room 203 of the Academic Center (old Science Hall), also located on the Bethel campus, just south of Krehbiel Science Center.

Wiebe’s speech, “Health psychology: What sick children and parents tell us about mind-body connections,” will discuss current research on how families cope successfully with stressful pediatric conditions such as diabetes, and explain how this research enhances understanding of the interconnections between psychological processes and physical health.

Wiebe graduated from Bethel College in 1981. She earned her Ph.D. in medical psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1988. After spending 18 years on the faculty at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, she recently relocated to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, where she is a professor and director of research in the division of psychology. She has received numerous grants and published articles in several professional journals.

Wiebe is married to Stephen Wooding and they are the parents of a young daughter, Emma.

Toubassi’s mathematical sciences lecture, “The integers, the rationals and splitting groups,” will define the algebra system called a “group” and discuss three familiar groups: the group of integers under addition, the group of rational numbers under multiplication and the integers modulo n under addition. Toubassi will then examine whether an “abelian group” splits into a torsion group, where all the elements are of finite order, and a torsion-free group, where all the nonzero elements are of infinite order.

Toubassi graduated from Bethel in 1966. After receiving his Ph.D. from Lehigh University in 1970, he joined the faculty of the University of Arizona, where he has been ever since. His research interests include infinite abelian groups and mathematics education. Since 1985, he has served as the associate head in charge of the entry level program to help improve the mathematics curriculum for beginning students.

Toubassi was a member of the Bethel College team that in 1964 earned Bethel College’s highest finish ever (14th) in the Putnam, a North America-wide math competition. Toubassi is married to Jane Douglass, a 1967 Bethel alumna. They have two grown sons and three grandsons.

Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Bethel College hosts its 36th annual Fall Festival Oct. 5-8. Other weekend activities on campus include food and entertainment for all ages, arts and crafts, alumni gatherings, athletic events and the inauguration of Bethel’s 13th president Barry C. Bartel. For a complete Fall Festival schedule, visit

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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