Campus News

Amphitheater is largest class gift yet

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“We all benefit from the sacrifices of others.” That’s the motto of Terry Zeitlow, vice president for institutional advancement, here at Bethel College. And sacrifice is precisely what it would take for the graduating class of 2012 to raise the funds for the new amphitheater, located on the south side of the dining commons. The cost for the project was $11,000, according to Lucy Sears, the coordinator for donor and advancement services. To put that number into perspective, the average senior gift costs about $2,500. The gift of the 2012 graduating class was the most expensive gift to date. At the department of Institutional Advancement, they were looking for a way to allow the senior class to give their first gift as alumni of Bethel College, as well as incorporate the alumni that graduated 50 years previous to 2012. Every year, when seniors graduate, the class that graduated 50 years prior is invited to come to the commencement. Last year, the class of 1962 was able to not only celebrate at commencement with the class of 2012, but also help to raise funds for their senior gift. Jack French and Ron Stump sent out a letter to their fellow classmates from the graduating class of 1962, explaining the amphitheater project and encouraging them to donate funds. This helped with the cost, but there was more money that needed to be raised. Student Council donated $1,000 and Alumni Services donated $2,500. Still, most of the contributors were the seniors of 2012. Zeitlow came up with a simple way for the seniors to give. At the end of a student’s years at Bethel, he or she receives the money that was kept in that student’s dorm damage account, which amounts to $100. Seniors were asked if they would be willing to contribute that money to the amphitheater project. All told, 36 seniors gave to the fund. Neil Silveus, who was interning at the office of Institutional Advancement at the time, worked closely with Zeitlow and Dr. Stephen Matteson, assistant vice president for development and planned giving, to see the project through. Some students question whether the project will really be used as an amphitheater. “I don’t know if it’s an amphitheater,” said Mandy Fox, a junior. She said she did like the “amphitheater” for other purposes besides theater. “I wonder why there’s a big tree in the middle,” said Corrie Belobraydich, a senior. Senior Tyler Mick concurred, adding that plays could not be performed there, because of the tree in the “stage.” “I’m a fan in general,” Mick said. When asked about the intended uses for the amphitheater, Matteson mentioned that classes can be held there, and it can also be used by students to study or have lunch outside. “It’s just a good place to gather,” Matteson said. Zeitlow said that his department is looking to form a committee of four or five students per graduating class to work toward the completion of their own class gift. Student who want to be involved can contact their office to volunteer, regardless of what class they are in at Bethel. Zeitlow said that the aim is to get students involved before their senior year, so that there is ample time to carry out plans and raise funds for each senior gift. “We have students who benefit from the gift of this senior class,” said Zeitlow, referencing the graduating class of 2012. “Our goal is that a student will have such a great experience here that they’ll want to give back and invest in others.”
The amphitheater is located just south of the dining commons.
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