|Motto||Forward, With Christ at the Helm|
|Type||Private, Evangelical Christian|
|President||Dr. Steven R. Cramer|
|Location||Mishawaka, IN, USA|
|Campus||suburban: 75 acres (0.30 km²)|
|Athletics||18 NAIA teams,
Bethel College is a Christian liberal arts institution located in Mishawaka (South Bend), Indiana. It was established in 1947 by a Mennonite group which was one of the founding members of the Missionary Church. Bethel College continues to be affiliated with the Missionary Church and is a part of the evangelical tradition.
Bethel College permits the students to skip class as often as they please and are focused mainly on making certain that the tri-weekly chapel service is attended.
Bethel College offers undergraduate, graduate and adult degree programs across the spectrum of disciplines that characterizes American higher education at small colleges. Currently, Bethel is organized into six schools: Arts & Sciences, Business & Social Sciences, Education, Nursing, Religion & Philosophy, and Adult Studies. Additionally, there are four graduate programs administered in conjunction with the schools through the Office of Graduate Studies.
There are approximately 2100 students distributed across these programs. About 1300 are traditional students pursuing bachelors degrees right after high school. 650 are non-traditional adult students who take classes on evenings and weekends which lead to bachelors or associate degrees. 250 are enrolled in graduate programs.
The traditional academic majors include a substantial general education component which is typical of most liberal arts institutions. With some variation by major program, these students take courses in history, literature, philosophy, fine arts, communication (oral and written), psychology, sociology, science, mathematics, physical education, and foreign language. Furthermore, because of the college's identification with Christianity, all students take courses in Bible (Old and New Testament) and an introductory theology course. These general education courses provide a broad background across the disciplines upon which more depth is pursued in a major (or majors).
The Bethel College faculty is composed of about 115 full-time members.
Bethel is a part of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the Council of Independent Colleges.
Bethel is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The institution also has specialized accreditation by The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).
The roots of Bethel College run deep. Mennonite Brethren in Christ (MBC) founder Daniel Brenneman first called for a training institute in 1893. Then, for many years, J. A. Huffman pressed the case for a Christian liberal arts college, even suggesting the name Bethel, meaning “house of God.” Formal church approval finally came in 1944, and land was purchased in Mishawaka, Indiana during 1946 under the leadership of Q. J. Everest, Seth Rohrer, and Warren Manges. Twenty-seven-year-old Woodrow I. Goodman (1947-1959) was appointed the first president, at that time the youngest in the United States.
Bethel College opened in the fall of 1947 with ninety-four students. During that same year, the MBC became the United Missionary Church. The Administration Building was completed in 1951, the first of many projects dependent upon sacrificial giving and volunteer labor.
Bethel established some 11 academic programs during its first decade, capped by the Teacher Education Program in 1955. Intercollegiate athletic programs were approved in 1958, with the first intercollegiate basketball game played in 1959.
On March 31, 1971, President Ray P. Pannabecker (1959-1974) and Dean Wayne J. Gerber welcomed North Central Association accreditation. Bethel College grew steadily until it reached an enrollment of about 500. The college flourished because of what President Steven R. Cramer has called its “human endowment” - an extremely loyal, faithful, and hard-working faculty, staff, administration, and Board of Trustees.
Bethel College continued moving forward under the presidencies of Albert J. Beutler (1974-1981), James A. Bennett (1982-1988), and Walter L. Weldy (interim 1988-1989). Among the more notable additions and innovations were the adult programs, the division of nursing, and the Otis Bowen Library, which anchored a new architectural style. In 1986, the baseball team won the first of what are now some 25 team national championships.
Bethel experienced a remarkable renaissance under the presidency of Norman V. Bridges (1989-2004). A dynamic team of administrators, repeated record enrollments, greatly expanded curricular offerings, the hiring of nationally known scholars, an aggressive, aesthetically attractive plan of campus development, and notable periods of spiritual renewal have helped make Bethel College a school of choice for many from the region.
In addition to a burgeoning traditional student body, adult and graduate degree programs have helped fuel the growth of the college. With notable new majors in Sign Language Interpreting, Environmental Biology, Criminal Justice, Philosophy, and Spanish complementing traditional strengths in Music, Theatre, Religion, Business, and the service professions, Bethel College increasingly reflects a national and international student body. The college also participates in a broad range of study abroad programs and annually sends out dozens of Task Force ministry teams around the world.
Dr. Steven R. Cramer was inaugurated in 2004 as the sixth president of Bethel College, and his tenure has extended the pattern of strong, progressive leadership. Dr. Dennis D. Engbrecht continues as Senior Vice President.
In 2006, Bethel College was reorganized on a university model and is now divided into seven schools under the overarching academic leadership of James B. Stump. Individual deans oversee the schools of Arts & Sciences, Business & Social Sciences, Education, Nursing, Religion & Philosophy, Adult Studies, and Graduate Studies.
A $6.9 million addition to the Middleton Hall of Science is just one in a long string of major construction and landscaping projects since the early 1990s, including Founders Village Apartments, the Middleton wing for Nursing, an enlarged Dining Commons, the Everest-Rohrer Chapel/Fine Arts Center, Wiekamp Athletic Center, Shiloh Prayer Chapel, the campus ponds and waterfall, Morey Soccer Field, Taylor Memorial Chapel, Jenkins Stadium, Sailor Residential Center, Miller/Moore Academic Center, Bethel College Bookstore, and Sufficient Grounds Coffee House. Several more projects are on the horizon, and a series of major purchases have shattered the myth that the main campus is landlocked. The Elkhart campus and the nursing program at Grace College are two of several emerging extension centers for Bethel.
President George W. Bush held a political fundraiser on the campus of Bethel College (February 2006) for then Congressman Chris Chocola. Other notable speakers to visit the Bethel College campus recently include Kay Warren, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, Dallas Willard, William Lane Craig, Rob Bell, Brenda Salter-McNeil and Frank Peretti
Bethel College offers 17 sports, as well as cheerleading and competes in the Mid-Central Conference of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division 1 (basketball division 2) as well as the National Christian College Athletic Association.
Bethel College's philosophy concerning sports is as follows: "We celebrate the true spirit of sport. The true spirit that binds Bethel athletes is their devotion to sport and learning, faith in God, and commitment to serving the larger world around them."
The Pilots' athletic accomplishments:
In addition to athletic competition, Bethel College encourages athletes to undertake short-term missionary work. To date, 30 missions trips have been taken by athletic groups.