During its winter retreat, the Bethany College Board of Directors focused on continued strategic planning for the bright future of the college.
The two-day retreat was divided into four conversations and occurred at two locations. The first day was held at Office This in southeast Wichita, the site of Bethany’s partnership with MindFire Academy. The second day was held at the McPherson Country Club.
“During these two days we visited known challenges in depth, uncovered previously unidentified opportunities, and experienced an entrepreneurial venture important to the college’s future,” said Board Chair James F. Martin. “This exercise in informed governance in many ways mirrors the discovery pathway that we anticipate for our students. The directors are unanimous in their expectation that as Bethany’s governing body our movement must always be in a direction of an improving experience for our students as they progress along the pathway to graduation. This retreat brings us closer to that goal.”
The retreat’s first conversation focused on Bethany’s new student recruitment and financial aid strategies. Following disappointing fall recruitment results, a modest drop of one percent from fall 2011, the college restructured plans for fall 2013. The morning conversation updated the board on the initial positive results through January and plans for a supporting restructured financial aid plan.
Following lunch and a tour of MindFire Academy, the board discussed upgrades and enhancements to facilities and technology that might be made possible through bond refinancing through the Kansas Independent College Finance Authority. “The new dollars generated would be reinvested into our student experience,” explains President Edward F. Leonard III.
During the second day, the board approved the promotion to of Mark McDonald to full professor of biology. McDonald has taught at Bethany since 1996 with courses in general biology, microbiology, genetics, immunology, ecology and scientific research and writing. He advises students in pre-medical, pre-veterinary and other pre-professional health programs. McDonald earned his doctorate in ecology and systematics from Kansas State University and his bachelor’s in biology from Bethany College. Previously, McDonald taught at Highland Community College-Wamego and was a graduate teaching assistant at Kansas State University.
Additionally, the Board of Directors directed Leonard to form work groups to evaluate and make recommendations for enhancements to the student experience. The first task force will evaluate Bethany’s interterm classes offered between the fall and spring semesters.
“Interterm has been part of the student curricular experience since the early 70’s. It’s well past time to step back and assess Interterm, especially in light of the other significant curricular changes already underway,” says Leonard.
The second task force will assess the philosophy and purpose of Bethany’s intercollegiate athletics program as an integrated part of the student experience and reflective of Bethany’s mission and values.
The work group will also assess the college’s membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Association to determine if they are the best fit for the college in the 21st century.
Leonard cites the December 4, 2012, article by Rolf Potts on Sports Illustrated Online regarding KCAC athletics programs as the “wake up call” to needing stronger missional directions for the athletic program. He says, “We look forward to the valuable perspective new Dean of Athletics Dane Pavlovich will bring and to the task force’s work over the next year.”
The retreat concluded with a conversation about the college’s current comprehensive campaign. In 2011, the college announced its new system of education, Bethany Pathway, and its long-term goals for its 150th anniversary in 2031, including a student body of 1,500, 84% retention of students from the freshman to sophomore year, financial support from 30% of alumni, and increasing the endowment to $100 million.
In the first step to reach these, Bethany launched the largest campaign in the college’s history, the comprehensive Engage the Future campaign to raise at least $20 million, if not $25 million, by 2014. So far, $16.4 million has been secured in gifts and pledges.
“With the successful completion of the fundraising for the Bud Pearson Swedish Chapel and Mabee Welcome Center, Bethany is well on its way,” says Leonard. “Now we head into planning the final two years of this campaign and focus on increasing alumni event participation to 15% and alumni giving to 15% by 2015.”