LINDSBORG, KAN., February 6, 2012—Bethany College announces Provost and Dean of the College Eugene Bales’ retirement at the end of this spring’s semester. Bales, who came to Bethany in 1990, has served as a professor and dean, chaired numerous committees, and received many awards from the college.
“I will miss the ongoing challenges every day. I will miss the engagement of the people, but I will still be present and active at Bethany College however I can,” says Bales. “Nevertheless, I have been in this position for nine years, and it’s time for a change of leadership, perspective, and experience.”
President Edward F. Leonard III said, “Over the last four years, I’ve come to value and respect Gene’s
perspective on various issues affecting the future of Bethany. His thoughtfulness and quick wit make him a valued member of my leadership team. I will miss Gene professionally and personally. I hope he will continue to be an active member of the college community in his retirement.”
The college is working with the national higher education search firm RPA, Inc. to find Bales’ replacement. The search is on schedule to fill the position this spring.
Bales came to Bethany as a part-time professor of philosophy in 1990. He began teaching full-time in the subject areas of philosophy and religion in 1992, was tenured in 1998, and was promoted to academic vice president in 2003. He became the provost and dean of the college in 2009.
“I have genuinely enjoyed working with people here. Colleagues have displayed professionalism and a cooperative nature,” says Bales. “When I first started teaching here I thought, ‘As a Catholic, how do I fit in teaching a religion course to a variety of denominations?’” Bales’ methods proved effective, and he was awarded the the Bethany College Mortvedt Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award in 1998 and the Johann Seleen Distinguished Professorship of Religion in 1999 and 2000.
One of Bales’ largest contributions to Bethany is the focus he provided to student retention. During the fall of 1998, Bales and Director of Residence Life Brenda Froisland introduced the concept of Bethany Seminar to build a sense of unity between students and the community, leading to greater student retention. Bethany Seminar did improve retention, and Bales and Froisland received the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate award from the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.
Bales continued to work on student retention, most recently leading the campus’ efforts to improve the overall first-year experience at Bethany through the Foundations of Excellence® in the First College Year project, sponsored by the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. Bethany was selected for participation in project in 2010 and began implementing programmatic improvements this year to enhance the overall experience of first-year students.
In addition to retention initatives, Bales’ numerous contributions to Bethany include talking at Chapel and campus brown bags, revising the college handbook, advising philosophy and social science majors and sophomore students, serving on the Educational Programs Committee, serving as Director of Artistic and Cultural Affairs, and organizing a three-day symposium entitled “Hermeneutics and Catholic Philosophy.”
“Lately I have been wrapped up in more special programs like ‘First Year,’” notes Bales. “It’s the bigger challenges in education that have been my focus, so I am looking forward to getting back to teaching and volunteering my resources in my retirement.”
Bales’ legacy also includes exceptional scholarship. He was selected to participate in the “Scientific, Ethical, and Social Challenges of Contemporary Genetic Technology” institute at the University of Puget Sound in 1996, a local panel follow-up to the PBS program “On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying” on Smoky Hills Public Television in 2000, in the Salina Arts Center program “Seven Talks on Memory” in 2004, and in the “Management and Leadership in Education” institute at Harvard University in 2009, Bales also presented several published works at meetings of the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies, including “Plotinus’ Theory of The One,” “A Heideggerian Interpretation of Plotinus’ The One,” and “Memory, Forgetfulness and the Disclosure of Being: Thinking with Heidegger and Plotinus.” Bales’ essay “Beyond Revenge: Paths in Nietzsche and Heidegger” was published by Philosophy Today, and he has written two books entitled A Ready Reference to Philosophy East and and West and Philosophy in the West: Men, Women, Religion, Science.
Before his career at Bethany, Bales taught from 1976 to 1991 at Conception Seminary College in Missouri. He earned his bachelor’s in philosophy at the seminary in 1968, followed by his master’s in philosophy from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1970, and his doctorate in philosophy with a minor in theology from the University in 1973. Bales’ thesis and dissertation were titled “A Whiteheadian Philosophy of Religious Experience” and “Plotinus: A Critical Examination,” respectively.
Bales and his wife, Deborah Bailey, a retired special education teacher, live in Lindsborg. Bales is member of the American Association of University Professors, the American Philosophical Association, and the American Catholic Philosophical Association; and he is also active in the community at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Lindsborg as an organist, cantor, lector, and catechetical instructor for adults. In his retirement, Bales looks forward to translating Elementatio Philosophica by Denys the Carthusian, reading science fiction, and collecting salt and pepper shakers.
Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service. Bethany College is on the Web at www.bethanylb.edu/.
Caption: Eugene Bales