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Anthropologist to address 2008 graduates

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – An anthropologist who has spent nearly three decades studying the evolving economic and social order in Eastern Europe will address 125 graduating seniors, their families and friends at Bethel College’s 115th Commencement, Sunday, May 25.

Janine Wedel, professor of public policy at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., will speak on “Serious fun.”

Bethel plans something new this year for Commencement, weather permitting: The ceremonies are scheduled for Joe W. Goering Field in Thresher Stadium, which would make it the first time since 1941 they have not been held in Memorial Hall.

The 2008 graduation ceremonies will begin with the baccalaureate service at 10 a.m. in Bethel College Mennonite Church. The formal commencement ceremony will start at 2:30 p.m. (in case of inclement weather, the event will be in Mem Hall). Both Baccalaureate and Commencement are open to the public.

The 115th Commencement will still include the traditional Walk around the Green. Faculty and graduating seniors will gather in Krehbiel Science Center and then process around the Green, past the Old Science Hall and Fine Arts Center to Mem Hall, on the sidewalk to Goering Hall and then into Thresher Stadium, where spectators will be seated.

Commencement speaker Janine Wedel graduated from Bethel in 1978 with a double major in history and social sciences and German. She spent the 1976-77 school year studying German, history and political science at Philipps-Universitat in Marburg, Germany. She earned her M.A. in anthropology and Eastern European studies from Indiana University and her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California-Berkeley.

Wedel has taught at George Mason since 2002. Before that, she taught for three years at the University of Pittsburgh. She has also held teaching and research positions at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Georgetown University. From 1999-2006, she was a Fellow in the National Institute of Justice and since 2006 has been a Fellow in the New America Foundation, both in Washington, D.C.

Between 1982 and 1992, Wedel held two Fulbright and IREX (International Research and Exchange) fellowships and two Fulbright professorships, all in Poland. She served at Warsaw University as a visiting researcher and an international economist consultant with the U.S. International Trade Commission, and as a visiting professor at Catholic University, Lublin, and Warsaw University.

From 1987-1994, Wedel was an international trade analyst with the U.S. International Trade Commission, based in Washington, D.C.

She is the author of three published books and one forthcoming volume. Her published titles are The Private Poland: An Anthropologist’s Look at Everyday Life (Facts on File, 1986); The Unplanned Society: Poland During and After Communism (Columbia University Press, 1992); and Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe (St. Martin’s Press, 1998; 2nd edition, Palgrave, 2001). The forthcoming title from Basic Books is Shadow Elite: The Privatization of Power.

Collision and Collusion won the 2001 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, making Wedel the first anthropologist to receive this honor. Other recipients have included former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, and the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, chaired by former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Janine Wedel is the daughter of Bethel Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Arnold M. Wedel and Dolores Wedel of North Newton.

Prelude music for Baccalaureate, featuring members of the class of 2008, begins at 9:30 a.m. with the worship service at 10 a.m., with the theme “Bless’d be the tie that binds.” Seniors Peter Miller, Partridge, Patricia Ngigi, Newton and Nairobi, Kenya, Bridget Kratzer, Newton, and Jeff Buller, Inman, will give reflections. Special music is by the Bethel College Concert Choir under the direction of senior Dan Graber, Freeman, S.D.

The service will conclude with the traditional blessing for and candlelighting by seniors. The Baccalaureate planning committee includes seniors Caitlin Buerge, Kansas City, Mo., Rebecca Claassen, Beatrice, Neb., Chad Hershberger, Hesston, David Mefford, Newton, Michael Montez, San Antonio, Texas, and Patty Ngigi.

The Commencement program will include music by the Epic Brass Quintet, organized by Richard Tirk, assistant professor of music. Rev. Joseph E. Nwoke, Abia, Nigeria, father of graduate Ihuoma Nwoke, will give the invocation and Rev. Stephen Penner, Reedley, Calif., father of graduate Jordan Penner, will offer the benediction.

Other Alumni and Commencement Weekend events 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.-6 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center gallery, including the reception from 4-6 p.m. Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center will have special hours Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Kauffman Museum will still be hosting its spring exhibit “From Cobalt to Indigo” both Saturday and Sunday from 1:30-4:30 p.m.

Bethel College classes of ’33, ’38, ’43, ’48, ’53, ’58, ’63 and ’68 will hold reunions May 23-24. 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, a science research project involving a music search engine, and the prairie restoration project on the east side of campus (transportation will be available from the student center to the prairie site). 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.

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. Duane Goossen, Topeka, is the recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award. Claudia Limbert, Columbus, Miss., will receive the Distinguished Achievement Award. Both are 1978 Bethel graduates. Arlene (Peters) Hett, Hillsboro, a 1969 graduate of the Bethel Deaconess Hospital nursing program, will receive the BCH/BCNAA Outstanding Alumnus Award.

To make a banquet reservation, visit or phone Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center at (316) 284-5205, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. The discount price is $16 per person if paying by May 9, $18 May 10-14 (note cut-off date).

For alumni activities, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at (316) 284-5251, A complete schedule for Alumni Weekend is online at

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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