NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends, along with representatives of sister institutions and church officials, will join in inaugurating Perry D. White Sunday, Oct. 10, as the culmination of the 40th annual Fall Festival.
White, Bethel’s 14th president, has a bachelor’s degree from Luther College, where he was a student of the renowned educator and choral conductor, Weston Noble. White went on to himself earn a master’s degree in choral conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a doctor of musical arts from the University of Oklahoma.
Between 1983 and 1998, White taught music at the middle school, high school and college levels in Iowa, Missouri and Texas. He went to Monmouth (Ill.) College in 1998 as a professor of music. In 2004, then-Monmouth president Richard Giese tapped White for the broader administrative role of vice president for college advancement. In 2008, White became vice president for external relations and admissions at Silver Lake College, Manitowoc, Wis.
White’s upbringing as a Baptist and past experience at small, liberal arts, church-affiliated colleges (Lutheran, Presbyterian and Catholic) gives him a unique understanding of and appreciation for the Anabaptist tradition and Mennonite higher education. Bethel College is associated with Mennonite Church USA.
“My vocational interests have always been linked to Christ-centered, liberal arts education,” White said. “My wife, Dalene, and I are truly honored to have been given this opportunity to serve Bethel College.”
In addition to White’s professional endeavors, he has taken active roles in his community. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Chestnut Fine Arts Center in Olathe. He was a member of the Mainly Manitowoc Downtown Business Association and involved with the Manitowoc County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program, and while in Monmouth served as president of the Warren County YMCA.
Dalene White has Kansas roots and a degree from the University of Kansas. She had successful roles in advancement and marketing at Monmouth College and Silver Lake College, following a career in the corporate world as a CPA for a large firm. She recently accepted a position on the Board of Directors for the Newton Chamber of Commerce.
White assumed office July 19, though his formal introduction to Mennonite Church USA occurred earlier, at the annual meeting of Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA in Waxahachie, Texas, July 9-11, which the Whites attended.
The inauguration will begin at 10 a.m. Oct. 10 in Memorial Hall on the Bethel campus with a worship service led by Heidi Regier Kreider, pastor of Bethel College Mennonite Church, where the Whites are attending, and Dale Schrag, campus pastor.
The theme of the service and inauguration is “Abounding in Hope,” based on Romans 15:13.
“I am pleased that the inauguration committee has chosen ‘hope’ as the theme for this service,” White said. “I firmly believe that, as an institution of higher education, we must devote ourselves to student success and recognize that nurturing hope is our obligation.”
Music will be by the Bethel College Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Timothy Shade, Bethel director of instrumental music, and the Bethel College Concert Choir, directed by William Eash, professor of music, and Andrew Voth, junior from Topeka, assistant conductor.
Alex Carbajal, a Bethel graduate and immediate past president of the Newton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and Tricia Lopez, administrative assistant for Bethel’s departments of social work and teacher education, will read from the books of Ephesians and Romans. A responsive reading based on the Romans 15 text will follow.
Other responses from the campus community will come through reflections offered by Mayeken Kehr, senior from Goshen, Ind., and John McCabe-Juhnke, professor of communication arts and faculty chair.
Weston Noble, professor emeritus of music at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, will also give a reflection, and Richard Giese, president of the University of Mount Union, Alliance, Ohio, will offer words of counsel.
Mel Goering, Santa Fe, N.M., chair of the Bethel Board of Directors, will conduct the investiture, which will include presentation of a bronze medallion replica of the Bethel College seal.
Finally, Ed Diller, moderator of Mennonite Church USA, will give the commissioning prayer, and Clarence Rempel, conference minister for Western District Conference, the closing prayer and benediction.