NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Perry D. White, Manitowoc, Wis., will become the 14th president of Bethel College. He and wife, Dalene White, will soon make their move to North Newton with his first day anticipated to be in mid-July.
“The Bethel Board of Directors is excited and pleased to announce Dr. White’s appointment from a very strong set of outstanding candidates,” said Melvin Goering, Santa Fe, N.M., board chair. “The candidates were evaluated extensively by the board’s Presidential Search Committee and by the campus and wider community, with the assistance of the Mennonite Education Agency staff and board.”
White has a “lifelong commitment to faith-based private college education,” Goering said. He has a bachelor of arts in music education from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, and is currently vice president for external relations and admissions at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc. Before coming to Silver Lake College in 2008, White was vice president for college advancement at Monmouth (Ill.) College.
“Dalene and I are truly honored and humbled by this opportunity to serve Bethel College. During our visit to campus, we were so impressed by the people, programs and unwavering commitment to quality higher education that is deeply rooted in the heritage and values of the Mennonite tradition,” White said. “We look forward to working with the many alumni, friends and colleagues to further the College’s mission, as we seek to prepare graduates for lives of successful service beyond graduation.”
White earned a master of music in choral conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a doctor of musical arts in choral conducting from the University of Oklahoma.
Between 1983 and 1998, White taught vocal music at the middle school, high school and college levels in Iowa, Missouri and Texas. He went to Monmouth College in 1998 as a professor of music and in 2004 was tapped for the broader administrative role of vice president for college advancement.
In addition to White’s professional endeavors, he has taken an active role within his community. He presently serves on the Board of Directors for the Chestnut Fine Arts Center in Olathe, Kan., and the Mainly Manitowoc Downtown Business Association. He has been involved with the Manitowoc County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program and is the past president of the Warren County YMCA in Monmouth, Ill.
“Dr. White has shown successful leadership in two important areas, recruitment and advancement,” said Goering. “At Monmouth College, he recruited and built a large, strong choral program – from a small group to four choirs, including the nationally recognized Monmouth College Chorale.
“At both Monmouth and Silver Lake, he led a broader institutional recruitment strategy and process, with significant growth in both cases. He was part of the strategic group activity that led to 40 percent enrollment growth at Monmouth. He also led substantial successful fundraising campaigns at both schools. Monmouth surpassed its campaign goal of $48 million, securing $62 million.
“Within his first two years as vice president for college advancement at Silver Lake, Dr. White reorganized and energized an advancement team, resulting in a 30 percent increase in total dollars raised and 38 percent increase in donors to the institution.”
White does not come from an Anabaptist-Mennonite faith tradition. “He sees himself as a part of the broader Anabaptist tradition,” Goering said, “as evidenced by his own adult believers baptism, with a special appreciation for the value of service to others.
“He can bring a fresh understanding of Mennonite heritage and values and has the skill to speak in language that interprets the tradition to those from outside it in ways that will be inviting and bridge-building.
“Dr. White has demonstrated an ability to understand, appreciate and articulate the history, heritage and core values of diverse institutions in a way that is authentic to loyal supporters,” Goering continued. “Monmouth College is Presbyterian and Silver Lake College is Catholic. Dr. White has shown an unusual capacity to work with and appreciate people of diverse religious backgrounds at a time when Bethel’s student population is becoming more diverse.”
“Dr. White's prior experiences in other faith-based educational institutions provide a framework for understanding and appreciating the unique mission and values of Bethel College,” said Jim Rosenberger, Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) board chair. “The MEA board appreciated the opportunity to consult with the search committee and provide feedback to the selection process, and with the announcement of Dr. White we want to offer our blessings on this new beginning. We welcome Dr. Perry White into dialogue with MEA board and staff as he begins his tenure as president of the oldest Mennonite higher education institution.”
Dalene, White’s wife, who has Kansas roots and a degree from the University of Kansas, has had successful roles in advancement and marketing at Monmouth and Silver Lake, following a career in the corporate world as a CPA for a large firm. She is “an enthusiastic supporter and spokesperson for the values of the church-related, faith-based college,” Goering said.
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 Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2009 and one of only two Kansas colleges profiled in Colleges of Distinction 2009-10. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.