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Bethel College announces Cabinet and staff appointments

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College president Barry C. Bartel has announced two Administrative Cabinet appointments – Brad S. Born as vice president of academic affairs and Aaron Chappell Deckert as vice president of student life. Both have served as interims in their respective positions, Born since fall 2005 and Chappell Deckert since summer 2006.

“Based on national searches, both Brad and Aaron emerged as the clear choices for these positions,” Bartel said.

“Brad has earned the respect and appreciation of the faculty here at Bethel,” Bartel continued, “and has demonstrated collaborative leadership through such things as coordinating the process of General Education review this past summer and fall. He is an asset to the college and I am pleased that he emerged as the candidate of choice from the careful work of the search committee, which enthusiastically recommended his appointment to the permanent position. I look forward to continuing to work with Brad.”

On Chappell Deckert’s permanent appointment, Bartel said, “Aaron has been involved in student life here at Bethel College for almost five years. He has earned the respect of students for the way he deals with difficult issues and of administration for his developmental approach to student life.

“Interim roles are difficult, but both Brad and Aaron served effectively, demonstrating their skill and earning the respect of others,” Bartel concluded. “They have continued to move the institution forward. Although the national searches identified other capable candidates, Brad and Aaron simply emerged as the best choices. I am pleased to have a solid Cabinet team in place.”

Born has a bachelor’s degree from Tabor College, Hillsboro. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Kansas. Before coming to Bethel in 1995, Born taught at the University of Kansas and Tabor College. As a professor at Bethel, he has taught a wide range of courses across the English and General Education curriculums. In 2004, Born became one of Bethel’s associate deans for academic affairs. In 2005, he was named interim dean and vice president for academic affairs when the current dean, John Sheriff, became interim president.

Born has published essays and presented professional papers on a wide range of authors, including Henry James, Barbara Kingsolver and Herman Melville, and literary topics such as early African-American fiction and literature of the sea. Born was awarded the Ralph P. Schrag Distinguished Teaching Award in 2004.

Chappell Deckert graduated from Bethel College in 1996 with a degree in global studies with concentrations in international development and environmental studies. He also has a master’s degree in organization development from Friends University, Wichita.

Chappell Deckert served as resident director for Voth Hall, intramurals director and housing director before moving into the role of associate dean for student life and then the interim position.

In addition to the administrative appointments, Patsy Dirksen has been selected as administrative assistant in the president’s office. She will provide staff support to President Bartel as well as to John Sheriff, executive vice president of institutional development. Dirksen is a 1981 graduate of the secretarial studies program at Bethel College. Most recently, she was self-employed with her husband at Dirksen Construction in Goessel. She previously worked at Prairie View Mental Health Services in Newton and in a medical office.

Previously in the position of assistant to the president was Terri Headrick, who has become director of human resources for the 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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