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Kansas lawmakers pass resolution recognizing Bethel’s 125th year

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A Bethel College group made the trip to the Kansas Statehouse (though for some it was only across town) to hear the college’s 125th anniversary year made part of the official public record.

The group included President Perry and Dalene White along with former Bethel presidents E. LaVerne Epp (and Marilyn Epp) of Lawrence and Doug Penner of Topeka, as well as a number of Bethel alumni, many of them also Bethel staff.

The “distinguished alumna” of the group was Rep. Judith Loganbill, a six-term Democrat from Kansas’ 86th district (Wichita) and a 1975 Bethel graduate, who last fall got the process started for writing a resolution declaring 2012 Bethel’s “quasquicentennial year” and made sure it was scheduled to be read in the Kansas House, on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Sen. Carolyn McGinn, whose district includes all of Harvey County, picked up the resolution for reading in the Senate that same afternoon.

In addition to Loganbill, Penner and the Epps, Bethel alumni present for the reading of the resolution on the House floor were Fred Goering, Bethel director of development, Duane Goossen and Rachel Waltner Goossen, Topeka, Jim Juhnke, Wichita, professor emeritus of history, Sondra Bandy Koontz, Bethel vice president for advancement, Dave Linscheid, Bethel director of alumni relations, Natalie Stucky, Bethel junior from Moundridge and Student Senate president, and Toby Tyner, Bethel assistant director of development.

Juhnke and his wife, Miriam, brought their granddaughter Anna Harder, who was a page in the House for the day. They all attend Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church in Wichita, along with Loganbill.

Although most of the group had to leave after lunch to return to campus or local jobs, the Whites and the Epps were able to attend the reading in the Senate, where Sen. McGinn introduced them following the clerk’s reading of the resolution.

Rep. Loganbill also introduced the guests and made some remarks after the morning reading in the House. Members of both chambers responded with standing ovations.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2011-12 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2011-12. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

Sidebar: Resolution

A RESOLUTION proclaiming and celebrating the 125th anniversary of the founding of Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas.

WHEREAS, Bethel College was founded on May 11, 1887, by members of the Newton community and the Kansas Conference of Mennonites with the goal of educating good citizens and passing on the Christian faith, named “Bethel” for the Hebrew Bible term meaning “house of God”; and

WHEREAS, Bethel College was incorporated by the State of Kansas on May 23, 1887, when the charter signed by its 33 founders was submitted to the Secretary of State; and

WHEREAS, Bethel College was the first institution of higher learning to be established under the auspices of the Mennonite denomination in North America; and

WHEREAS, Bethel College honors with gratitude the vision of its three founding fathers, prominent leaders in the City of Newton and Harvey County, David Goerz, John J. Krehbiel and Bernhard Warkentin, and of its first president, Cornelius H. Wedel; and

WHEREAS, Bethel College has, through its history, educated and graduated citizens of and leaders for Newton, North Newton, Harvey County, the State of Kansas, the nation and the world; and

WHEREAS, Bethel College is the only Kansas private college to be listed by Forbes.com in “America’s Best Colleges 2011-12,” is the highest-ranking Kansas institution in the Washington Monthly college guide for 2011-12, and consistently appears in the top tier of U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings; and

WHEREAS, Bethel College is first in the state and in the top 100 nationally in percentage of bachelor's degree graduates who go on to earn Ph.D. degrees; and

WHEREAS, Bethel College is one of only a handful of colleges or universities nationwide to offer its students a four-year graduation guarantee; and

WHEREAS, Bethel College is today a thriving liberal arts institution known for academic excellence, character and service: Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives/Senate of the State of Kansas: That we do hereby proclaim the year 2012 as Bethel College’s quasquicentennial year. We celebrate its rich legacy, consistent progress and wide-ranging achievements and applaud its continued growth. We recognize Bethel College as the first Mennonite college in North America and as a distinguished institution of higher learning dedicated to the liberal arts; and

Be it further resolved: That the Secretary of the Senate shall send an enrolled copy of this resolution to the President of Bethel College and to the Chairman of the board of directors of Bethel College.

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