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Campaign enters "quiet phase"

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College has launched a $21 million financial campaign that includes major capital improvements to one of the college’s historic older buildings.

At its Oct. 5 meeting on campus, the Bethel College Board of Directors authorized the campaign with its three main components: (1) renovate the Old Science Hall, completed in 1925, and add a nursing wing to the structure to create a state-of-the-art Academic Center housing seven departments, at a total of $8.5 million; (2) increase the current endowment of the college by $8.5 million in order to strengthen core programming; and (3) provide ongoing support for the Bethel College Fund (current fund) at $4 million.

The campaign now enters a “quiet phase,” during which major donors will be contacted and lead gifts solicited. A public phase of the campaign will follow.

“Bethel’s constituents express great enthusiasm for the restoration of a solid, beautiful building that is part of Bethel’s long history,” said Sondra Bandy Koontz, Bethel vice president for advancement. “They find this ‘recycling’ of a building to be a good use of college resources. Our constituents see a new nursing facility as one way to reflect Bethel’s mission and its Mennonite value of service.”

“Testing the feasibility of a major campaign with donors was a highlight of my first year as president,” said Barry C. Bartel. “There is strong enthusiasm for each component of the campaign.

“It is particularly fitting that the campaign seeks to raise equal amounts for the Academic Center and for endowment,” he added. “Both are extremely important as we continue to strengthen Bethel to continue providing an excellent education centered on a residential environment with opportunities for participation.”

The timing of the campaign complements developing plans for marking an upcoming milestone anniversary for Bethel College – 125 years in 2012. Bartel recently announced the Keith Sprunger, Oswald D. Wedel professor emeritus of history, has agreed to author a new history of the college. The last major one was published in 1954.

An advisory committee consisting of Sprunger, Professor Emeritus of Peace Studies Robert Kreider, Professor Emeritus of History James Juhnke, Mennonite Library and Archives Director John Thiesen, Executive Vice President for Institutional Advancement John Sheriff, Director of Church Relations Dale Schrag and current Bethel history faculty Mark Jantzen and Penelope Adams Moon will guide the project.

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 was the highest ranked Kansas college in the national liberal arts category of U.S. News & World Report’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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