This year’s mural a student-alumnus collaboration

Morgan Marsh with the partially completed Haury Hall mural, depicting a sunset, Flint Hills and threshing stones

When Morgan Marsh thought about who could help her create a mural, she came up with a name right away: local artist Virgil Penner.

Marsh, Lawrence, graduated from Bethel May 12 with a degree in art, and her final project before leaving campus was to complete the Class of 2024’s contribution to the Haury Hall mural.

This was the sixth installment on the mural born in 2019 from an idea of Lil Padro, Class of 2019.

“I felt that a mural is something that could last and be a symbol of the senior class,” Padro said at the time.

Class of 2019 member Jesus “Chuy” Alba painted the first piece of the mural in 2019, followed by Blayne Stump and Katrina Heinrichs (2020); Adam Kroeker (2021); Capri Bisom (2022); and Arthur Mahrer (2023).

The Student Government Association (SGA), Office of Student Life and Bethel College Alumni Association provide funding for the mural. Anyone from those groups, faculty from the Department of Visual Arts and Design, and any member of the current graduating class can make suggestions for the design.

Marsh was familiar with Penner because she was also a member of the softball team, of which Penner is “a big supporter,” she says. “He always has the [team] over to his house for a meal.”

Penner is known for his whimsical, colorful paintings and has had several local exhibits, including in Bethel’s Regier Art Gallery in fall 2023.

Marsh says she had a conversation with Penner at the reception for his exhibit. “He’s really inspirational to the visual arts students,” she says.

And when she found out she’d been chosen to do the mural, she asked Penner if he would work with her and received “an enthusiastic yes.” They met over lunch in the Bethel cafeteria to plan.

“We had pencils and paper, and we came up with ideas, shapes and colors. Our styles are complementary.”

The mural incorporates images of sunflowers, the Flint Hills, a sunset and threshing stones, and can be seen on the north side of Haury Hall on the Bethel College campus.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel ranks at #23 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of “Best Regional Colleges Midwest” for 2023-24. Bethel was the first Kansas college or university to be named a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center, in 2021. For more information, see