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Bethel College enters presidential transition

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Bethel College Board of Directors “is saddened to report that Bethel College is in the midst of a presidential transition,” said Board chair Mel Goering, Santa Fe, N.M.

“The Board acknowledges and expresses appreciation for the tireless dedication of Barry Bartel and his family during the last three years,” Goering continued. “His loyalty to the college, his devotion to the church and community, his affirmation of diversity and his tireless activity for the college were extraordinary. We wish Barry and his family the very best with whatever they choose as they chart a new course.”

Goering also announced that John K. Sheriff, Ernest L. Leisy Professor of English and current executive vice president for institutional development, will become interim president, effective immediately. Sheriff filled this role for a year, 2005-06, between the presidential tenures of E. Laverne Epp and Bartel.

“John’s understanding of the issues facing the college, his past experience as [academic] dean and interim president, and the trust others have in him will allow Bethel College to move quickly, working with the Administrative Cabinet, faculty and staff, to provide positive forward momentum in addressing the college’s needs in these challenging times,” Goering said.

The Bethel Board has begun the presidential search process and “will proceed as rapidly as possible to secure a person with the requisite experience and talent to foster the mission of the college,” he continued.

“The Board covets continued loyalty, support and prayers from our alumni and friends during this transition time, as we have received them during other difficult times in the past,” Goering concluded.

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’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2009 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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