Campus News

High aspirations from new President

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chenoweth“… a performing family where our competence matches our kindness.” Click here for video interview Bethel College President Dr. Gregg Chenoweth said that by the year 2022, which is Bethel’s 75th anniversary, he wants Bethel College to be in the top five most influential Wesleyan colleges in the nation. This proposal sprung from wanting a specific goal for the college’s future. “We had, maybe two weeks ago… all of our faculty and staff in what I called the ‘Futures’ gathering,” Chenoweth said. “In this meeting I outlined three futures (for Bethel).” “The future that I’m very ambitious about is what I would call an ‘aspirational future,’” said Chenoweth. “I thought it might accelerate our move to the future … if I gave a proposition that our people would respond to.” One part of this future that sticks out is increasing the size of the chapel from around 850 seats to 1500. “We have some financial backing (for that),” said Chenoweth. Dr. Chenoweth also outlined two other futures for Bethel: The “bad” and the “moderate” futures, that he wishes to avoid. “If you neglect your institution, if you neglect your students, things can go bad,” said Chenoweth. “Obviously, none of us want that.” So how are we going to achieve our new president’s proposition? Chenoweth points to increasing enrollment, among other things. “It’s not ‘can’ we do it, but ‘how’, and I think that’s an important distinction,” said Chenoweth. “When a student is admitted to Bethel, they won’t now only get a letter … they’ll also get a link to a video where I congratulate them,” said Chenoweth. “Some part of that video is, ‘don’t just pick a campus, pick a community.’” “We want to move people from admittance to enrollment.” Not only does Chenoweth wish to improve our campus’s academic life, he also has goals to build upon Bethel’s sense of community. “I have an ambition to maximize (our culture),” said Chenoweth. “A strength is our sense of community. “I’ve met with third shift custodians and public safety officers who pray for students,” said Chenoweth. “Many students love the way things are … There’s a family feeling.” Chenoweth continued with the metaphor of Bethel as a family. “The worst kind of family is lax, forgiving, and doesn’t expect much from each other … (I want Bethel to be) a performing family where we have our competence catch up with our kindness.” Another way Chenoweth wants to improve the campus is by focused research. “The process for us to respond to (the proposition) was all kinds of focus groups, data collection groups … It all funnels through a group I put together called the ‘President’s Transition Council.’” The President’s Transition Council is made up of one-third faculty, one-third staff, with the remaining third being made up of students, parents, and other figures in the Mishawaka community. In closing, I was met with a surprising, and perhaps very revealing quote from our college president. “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had a unicorn?” After our interview, Dr. Chenoweth treated me to a quick tour of his office, which included pictures of his mother, who was a pastor's daughter, and his father, who was a college drop-out, from the 1960's. Also in his office were pictures of his children aplenty, along with a sword that had a Bible verse engraved on it.
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