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Former Bethel presidents to gather on campus

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College has more living presidents currently than ever before in its history.

This fact came to wider notice last March when Barry C. Bartel, inaugurated as Bethel’s 13th president in October 2006, joined members of the college’s advancement and development staff in helping to celebrate the 99th birthday of David C. Wedel, Bethel’s sixth president.

In 1952, D.C. Wedel succeeded Edmund G. Kaufman, and served until 1959. Every president after Wedel, who now lives at Bethesda Home in Goessel, is still living as well – Vernon Neufeld (1960-66), Bakersfield, Calif.; Orville Voth (1967-71), Hesston; Harold Schultz (1971-91), Kansas City, Mo.; John Zehr (1991-95), Urbana, Ill.; Douglas Penner (1995-2002), Topeka; E. LaVerne Epp (2002-05), Lawrence; and Bartel (2006-).

The six former presidents have been invited to campus in mid-November, to join Bartel and Bethel supporters for the President’s Club Dinner Saturday, Nov. 17, and to share reflections and answer questions in a public forum on Sunday, Nov. 18.

The public event, the Former Presidents’ Round Table Discussion, is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center. The participants will reflect on their presidency, events during their tenure and the college in general. Former President Epp will serve as moderator. The public is invited to this free program, and will be invited to suggest topics or ask questions.

“Each of these persons shaped Bethel College,” Bartel noted. “This will be a rare and interesting opportunity to listen to several presidents reflect together about the college. It is particularly fitting that the round table discussion follows the President’s Club dinner the evening before. That dinner shows appreciation to donors who also shape and strengthen 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 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 www.bethelks.edu.

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