Bethany College welcomed at the start of classes this week its largest new student group ever.

According to preliminary registration numbers, this year’s 280 freshmen and 77 transfer students is the largest new student group ever. Counted separately, the 280 incoming freshmen is also a record for Bethany.

“We are thrilled,” said President Will Jones. “It is exciting to see more and more students want the transformative experience that our faculty, staff, and coaches offer. Bethany graduates are known for being successful professional who love God and love people. I expect these students will add to this community-changing legacy.”

In addition to growing new student numbers, more incoming freshmen competed in the college’s prestigious Presidential Scholarship Celebration than last year. Of the incoming freshmen this week, 24 qualified for the Presidential Scholarship Celebration as a part of the recruitment process.

“Only the most qualified prospective students are invited to participate in the Presidential Scholarship Celebration,” President Jones said. “Every college wants these students. It is terrific to see so many of them choose Bethany.”

Bethany College is on an upward growth trajectory. Last fall, the college welcomed the largest new student group in 22 years and the largest incoming freshman class in 17 years. This week, the college is enjoying record new student numbers. “We are becoming a sought after institution,” stated Matt Pfannenstiel, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. “Bethany offers great value for a student’s educational investment. We expect to continue this growth trend.”

According to President Jones, the college’s growing reputation is one outcome of the success of its alumni. “Our alumni serve as entrepreneurs, doctors, pastors, artists, teachers, attorneys, researchers, and in dozens of other professions in cities and towns across the country. They are servant leaders striving to transform their home communities and beyond. Recent graduates from Bethany have enjoyed entry into well-known medical schools, law schools, graduate schools, and seminaries. Bethany is good for our students and our alumni are good for Bethany.”

Additions to the coaching ranks at Bethany College also helped to create excitement for the drive for the record new student group. Over the summer, the Swedes added Dan O’Dowd ’86 as the new men’s head basketball coach. Coach O’Dowd brought 24 years of NCAA Division I coaching experience, including stops at Ole Miss and Arizona State. Bethany also named Jeremy Kennedy as its new baseball head coach. As head baseball coach at two prior institutions, Kennedy led his teams to NAIA World Series appearances.

Freshman Aubrey Hitchcock from Junction City, Kansas, said Bethany is a college where she will excel. “Students and educators at Bethany College are both incredibly friendly and engaging.” Hitchcock added, “I am happy to say that this is where I have chosen to further my education.”

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.