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Action by Bethel Board propels long-term vision via near-term process

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – During a special session January 24, 2009, the Bethel College Board of Directors empowered President Barry C. Bartel, in concert with faculty and staff leadership, to develop an operating model sustainable at varying enrollment levels, to be presented to the Board during its spring meeting.

“Our opportunity, and our goal, is to build a sustainable model for Bethel. I truly believe this will help us become a stronger institution, ensuring that we can continue to serve students and prepare them to tackle the world’s problems,” Bartel said during a campus-wide meeting Jan. 28.

The Board action stems from the economic reality of the past months, resulting in the need to meet the challenges posed by the current decline in the stock market which has had a negative impact on the value of the endowment and could have a negative impact on enrollment.

In a message to the campus community, Board Chair Melvin Goering stated: “This loss of [endowment] value increases the necessity for the college to develop an operating model that is sustainable with less reliance on the endowment, while continuing to support the core mission of the college – and it must be done carefully but with urgency.”

A long-term visioning process initiated three years ago identified Bethel’s core strengths, upon which the new operating model will be built and tested. The entire campus community has been called to model its philosophical commitment to collaboration throughout deliberations during the coming months.

“Our creativity, our resolve, our commitment and our urgency are bolstered by 120 years of history and inspired by a vision for the future…Our opportunity is to work with resolve to confront [our challenges] and make Bethel stronger,” Bartel said.

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 only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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