Subscribe to RSS

Former Bethel College president Epp to address graduates

1200px 650px

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College will honor 122 graduating seniors and their families as well as returning alumni and friends during Alumni Weekend, Baccalaureate and Commencement events May 18-20.

Bethel’s 114th commencement will take place Sunday, May 20, at 2:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall. E. LaVerne Epp, Lawrence, former president of Bethel College, is the featured speaker. His address is titled “Singing any song.”

Epp, a native of Henderson, Neb., graduated from Bethel with honors in 1972 with a major in history and the 1972 Thresher Award for History and Social Science. During the following year, he worked for Bethel as an admissions counselor and as a member of the development staff. He earned a law degree in 1976 from the University of Nebraska College of Law at Lincoln. For 10 years, he was a partner in the law firm of Adrian and Epp, P.A., in Newton while also serving as Hesston Municipal Court judge and teaching several classes at Hesston College.

In 1986, Epp left private law practice to co-found Retirement Management Company, a privately held company providing services and accommodations to senior adults, which ultimately spanned six states. He served as president of the company from 1993 until 2001, during which time he served on a number of boards including the Bethel College Board of Directors. In 2002, Epp became Bethel’s 12th president, following Doug Penner, and served in that role until November 2005.

Epp is currently president and chair of the LDC BioScience Authority, an entrepreneurial venture by government and business entities as well as the University of Kansas to provide incubation business services, research, lab space and capital to emerging life science companies. He is also a trustee with the Kansas University Center for Research and works as an organizational management and planning consultant to various proprietary and not-for-profit companies and governmental and academic institutions.

The commencement program will include instrumental music by the Bethel College Wind Ensemble under the direction of assistant professor of music Richard Tirk, and vocal selections from the Bethel College Concert Choir, conducted by professor of music William Eash. Rev. Vernon Rempel, pastor of First Mennonite Church of Denver and father of graduate Jess Rempel, will give the invocation and Jelena Maksimovic, Belgrade, Serbia, mother of graduate Djordje Maricic, will offer the benediction. Brad Born, academic dean, will present the Julius A. and Agatha Dyck Franz Community Service Award to a faculty member.

The baccalaureate service, with the theme “The journey is the reward,” also takes place on Sunday at Bethel College Mennonite Church, beginning at 10 a.m. The service is planned by members of the senior class. Seniors Jacqui-Ann Jackson, St. Catherine, Jamaica, Jeff Janzen, Fresno, Calif., Lindsey Miller, Haven, and Alex Unruh, Valley Center, will offer reflections. The service concludes with a candlelighting and commissioning for seniors.

Alumni and Commencement Weekend events that are open to the public are the nurses’ pinning ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday in Krehbiel Auditorium and the senior art exhibit Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center gallery, including the reception from 3-5 p.m. Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center will have special hours Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and Kauffman Museum will still be hosting its traveling exhibit “K is for Kansas” as well as its new permanent exhibit “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” from 1:30-4:30 p.m.

A new Saturday event this year is the Thresher Golf Open, sponsored by the Bethel athletic department, to be held at Newton’s Sand Creek Station Golf Course. For more information, contact Chad Schilling at 316-284-5263 or

Bethel College classes of ’32, ’37, ’42, ’47, ’52, ’57, ’62 and ’67 will hold reunions May 18-19. The first event is a Friday evening dinner in the Schultz Student Center cafeteria, followed by an optional walking tour that will include new simulators in the nursing department, new instrumental equipment in the music department and a visit to the Radio-TV Lab to hear about a new local TV project. The evening concludes with an ice cream social in the cafeteria.

On Saturday, retired faculty and staff will join reunion class members at a breakfast buffet. Classes observing reunions of 50 years or more will be guests of Bethel College president Barry C. Bartel and his wife, Brenda, for coffee on Saturday morning at Goerz House. All classes will meet for reunion luncheons at various locations on campus and in the community.

The annual Alumni Banquet for graduating seniors, alumni and friends will be held Saturday evening in Memorial Hall. The Alumni Association will honor two alumni at the banquet and the Bethel Deaconess Hospital/Bethel College Nursing Alumni Association will honor one. Cynthia (Alexander) Doyle Perkins is the recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award. She is a 1977 graduate of Bethel College. Roy D. Unruh, Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Hesston, a 1957 graduate, will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Lynn Unruh, Orlando, Fla., a 1973 graduate of the Bethel Deaconess Hospital nursing program, will receive the BCH/BCNAA Outstanding Alumnus Award.

For alumni activities, contact Dave Linscheid, director of alumni relations, (316) 284-5252,

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.

Back to News