NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A former president will return to Bethel College to give the commencement address to the graduating class of 2015.
The title of his address is “From Here to There.”
E. LaVerne Epp, Lawrence, is executive chair of the Bioscience and Technology Business Center (BTBC), a commercialization partner of the University of Kansas. BTBC has grown to more than 35 companies since its inception in 2010 and is now the largest center for commercialization affiliated with a major research university in the Midwest.
In addition, Epp currently serves as a trustee for the Kansas University Center for Research, as well as a director of KU Innovation and Collaboration. He is an advisory board member of the Entrepreneurial Council of the KU School of Business, where he is also a lecturer.
Epp is the chair and a member of the board of directors of Lifespace Communities, Inc., a national retirement community company in Des Moines. He sits on the board of trustees of the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association and is a director of the Douglas County Community Foundation.
Epp graduated from Bethel College in 1972 and from the University of Nebraska College of Law with a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 1976.
That same year, Epp joined a private law practice in Newton that later became Adrian and Epp, P.A. The firm operated out of multiple offices in several cities and provided a broad range of legal services.
During his years in private law practice, Epp served as a part-time municipal administrative judge for Hesston.
In 1986, Epp co-founded Retirement Management Corporation, a development and management company for senior living accommodations and services. During its 15-year history, Retirement Management Corporation grew to a dozen retirement communities in six states. The company was sold in 2001 in a private transaction.
In 2001, while serving on the Bethel College Board, Epp was named Bethel president. He served in that position from 2002 until late 2005.
Since then, he has returned to campus several times to teach a popular January interterm course, “Emerson Meets Management,” most recently in 2013.
“I first read Emerson as a Bethel student,” Epp said. “Emerson’s essays and journals provide a perfect philosophical road map for business.His ideas of building relationships, possessing a robust imagination, self-reliance and awareness, and strengthening intellect through the acquisition and application of information are building blocks for all good business, personal and corporate.These concepts are timeless.
“When I left the Bethel presidency, the college gave me the complete works of Ralph Waldo Emerson – the best gift I could have received.”
Epp is married to Marilyn (Crabb) Epp, a musician. They are the parents of three grown children.
The 2015 Bethel graduation ceremonies begin with the baccalaureate service May 17 at 10 a.m. in Bethel College Mennonite Church. The formal commencement starts just before 4 p.m. with the traditional Walk around the Green.
Commencement takes place in Thresher Stadium, or in Memorial Hall in case of inclement weather.
Both baccalaureate and commencement are open to the public.
Baccalaureate opening music features members of the Class of 2015. Other service music is by the Bethel College Concert Choir (with student conductors, graduating seniors Michelle Unruh, Goessel, and Riley King, Lawrence) and by Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, professor of music, on organ.
This year’s baccalaureate theme comes from Dr. Seuss: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
Three graduating seniors and one parent will offer meditations: Katie Schmidt, North Newton, Lina Adame, Newton, and Dylan Jantz, Newton, with his father, Allen Jantz, Bethel professor of education.
The service will conclude with the traditional blessing for and candlelighting by seniors.
Members of the baccalaureate planning committee are graduating seniors Madelyn Weaver (senior class representative), Katrina Horner, Riley King, Katelyn Melgren and Tanner Steingard, Bethel College Mennonite Church pastors, Heidi Regier Kreider and John Tyson, and Bethel campus pastor Peter Goerzen.
The commencement program begins at 4 p.m. with music by the Epic Brass Quintet.
Heidi Regier Kreider, mother of graduating senior Benjamin Kreider, will give the invocation. Jerrell Williams, graduating senior from Garland, Texas, will offer the benediction.
Other Commencement Weekend events open to the public are the Senior Art Exhibit, including a reception in the Regier Art Gallery area, May 15 from 7-9 p.m., and the nurses’ pinning ceremony, May 16 at 2 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium, both in Luyken Fine Arts Center.
The Regier Gallery, as well as Thresher Bookstore and Mojo’s Coffee in Schultz Student Center, will be open extra hours during the weekend (gallery 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday; bookstore 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, 12-2 p.m. Sunday; Mojo’s 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday). Kauffman Museum invites everyone to the current special exhibit, “Sorting Out Race,” Saturday and Sunday, 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Special events for graduating seniors and their families include the Student Alumni Association-hosted senior party and dinner, with presentation of a gift to all seniors, in the Will Academic Center atrium May 15; lunch on the Goerz House lawn with President Perry D. White and Dalene White May 16; and an ice cream social given by the Office of Student Life that evening.
Alumni Weekend activities now take place the first full weekend in June (June 5-7 this year) on campus. For more information, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 316-284-5251 or see a complete Alumni Weekend schedule online at www.bethelks.edu/alumni/events-for-alumni-and-friends/alumni-weekend/.