Bellefeuille Named Eighth President of Bethel University

Lissa Diaz

On behalf of the Bethel University Board of Trustees, Chair Eric Kinsman announces Barbara Bellefeuille, Ed.D., has been officially named the eighth president of Bethel University. Bellefeuille has served as interim president of the university since June 1, 2021, and is the first female to serve in the university’s highest leadership role.

The presidential search committee strongly recommended Bellefeuille’s appointment, and on March 7, 2022, the Bethel University Board of Trustees unanimously voted to appoint Bellefeuille to the permanent role. The general oversight committee of the Missionary Church denomination approved the appointment on March 9, 2022. 

“Dr. Bellefeuille has led with a stalwart dedication to the university’s mission,” says Kinsman. “The Board of Trustees recognized in her an experienced and effective leader who, by God’s providence, was already stationed at Bethel and ready to lead. Through the search process, it became evident to the committee and board, and affirmed by Bethel constituents, that Bellefeuille should be our next president.”

Bellefeuille has served at Bethel University since 2012, spending almost nine years as Vice President for Academic Services, and the past nine months in the interim president role. 

As interim president, Bellefeuille has enriched a culture of academic excellence, spiritual flourishing and innovation at Bethel, with a specific focus on centering the campus around Christ. She has boosted morale on campus, amid lingering impact from COVID-19, strengthened the relationship with the Missionary Church, and connected with students. She initiated new traditions, such as the Igniting the Pilot Lights tree lighting ceremony, and a scriptural focus for the year of John 3:30, “He must increase, I must decrease.” Additionally, she, along with the advancement team, secured a $1 million gift from the Mely and Rick Rey Foundation Inc. Bethel also experienced its most successful Giving Tuesday to date under Bellefeuille’s leadership.

“I am humbled and also thrilled by this appointment to serve as Bethel University’s eighth president. For 75 years, Bethel University has prepared men and women in a variety of vocations, but all have been uniformly educated in biblical truth. I am determined to continue and, even strengthen, this focus: nothing else interests me,” Bellefeuille says. “Together with the Bethel leadership, the Trustees and the Missionary Church we will advance our mission to transform communities through Christ-centered graduates!

As a former vice president at Bethel, Bellefeuille oversaw all academic-related functions of the university, including hiring and developing faculty, reviewing and implementing academic programs, and creating a vision for meeting the challenges facing higher education. During her tenure, she guided the development of new academic majors for both on-campus and online programs (e.g., computer science, cybersecurity, marketing, worship arts). A proven senior administrator, she undertook two major curricula reviews and led the university through a lengthy and successful accreditation renewal process with the Higher Learning Commission (2017). She also helped design and launch an innovative national extension program housed in churches, Bethel University Extension Studies (BU-X), in 2020, which is exceeding expectations.

During the 2020 pandemic year, she led a significant and successful revamping of the academic calendar, classroom procedures and communication processes for faculty, students and academic administration. In recognition of her academic leadership, she served for the two years as Chair of the Commission of Chief Academic Officers of the national Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).

Bellefeuille has more than 30 years of experience in higher education. Prior to coming to Bethel, she spent 21 years at Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa Falls, Ga., with roles including vice president of academics and professor of teacher education and department chair. She has also participated in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Women’s Leadership Development Institute. She earned a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Virginia Tech, a master’s in educational administration from Reformed Theological Seminary and a bachelor’s in biblical education from Columbia International University.

She begins as president effective immediately. An inauguration will follow at a later date.

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