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Bethel names presidential search committee

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Meeting in its fall session on campus Oct. 23-24, the Bethel College Board endorsed a recommendation for the search process to select a new president.

The board also selected a presidential search committee. Ray Penner, North Newton, will serve as chair. Other members are Delora Decker, North Newton, Wally Dyck, Temple, Texas, Berneil Rupp Mueller, North Newton, Donovan Nickel, Windsor, Colo., and Leticia Palacioz Nielsen, Wichita, representing the board; John McCabe-Juhnke, professor of communication arts, and Allison McFarland, professor of management and marketing, representing Bethel faculty; and Sondra Bandy Koontz, vice president for advancement, representing Bethel staff. Board Chair Melvin Goering, Santa Fe, N.M., will sit on the search committee as an ex officio member, and Elaine Moyer, associate director for Mennonite Education Agency, will serve as a consultant in the presidential search process.

The process should “begin … with deliberate speed but without an arbitrary deadline for completion, recognizing it is more important to find the right person than to find a person quickly,” the recommendation stated.

The search committee is being asked “to formulate the parameters for the search process,” with recommendations for those parameters being made to the rest of the board before Jan. 15, 2010. At the same time, the search committee will establish “the procedure for seeking, evaluating and selecting a candidate to be presented to the Board for approval.”

Much of the Bethel Board’s deliberations centered on both short- and long-term enrollment strategies. In other business, the Board approved a restructuring of the capital portion of Bethel’s Expanding the Vision campaign. They also affirmed the work of the faculty and administration in curriculum assessment and revision and authorized implementation of the recommended changes.

The board endorsed recommendations from interim Bethel President John Sheriff for sabbaticals for Ami Regier, professor of English, and Ada Schmidt-Tieszen, professor of social work; for granting early retirement to Don Lemons, professor of physics, beginning Fall 2010; and for granting emeritus status to Gail Lutsch, professor of art, and Wayne Wiens, professor of biology, who both retired at the end of the 2008-09 school year, and Verda Deckert, associate professor of nursing, who retired at the end of the 2007-08 school year.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. 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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