Bellefeuille Named Interim President of Bethel University

Lissa Diaz

Bethel University Board Chairman Randy Lehman announces the appointment of Vice President for Academic Services Barbara Bellefeuille, Ed.D., as Interim President of Bethel University. She will begin her new role June 1, 2021, when current President Gregg A. Chenoweth, Ph.D., transitions to his appointment as president of Olivet Nazarene University, in Bourbonnais, Ill.

“When considering our next steps in the presidential search for Bethel University, it became quickly apparent that a qualified interim candidate already existed within the current cabinet,” Lehman says. “Since 2012, Dr. Bellefeuille has provided excellent leadership over the faculty and academic services areas of the university. She has been unanimously affirmed for this position by the Bethel University Board of Trustees.”

Vice Chairman Eric Kinsman adds, “Dr. Bellefeuille has proven herself to be a steady and consistent leader, and we have full confidence she will continue to serve Bethel well in this new role, as we carry out the search for the next president.” 

Bellefeuille has nearly 30 years of experience in higher education, serving as vice president for academic services at Bethel University for more than eight years. Prior to coming to Bethel, she spent 21 years at Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa Falls, Ga., with roles including acting CEO (for 1.5 years), 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.

At Bethel, Bellefeuille currently oversees all academic-related functions of the university, from hiring and developing faculty, reviewing and implementing academic programs, to creating a vision for meeting the challenges facing higher education. In addition to serving on the president’s cabinet, she oversees the council of academic deans, academic policies and curriculum committee, university library, and offices of academic success, registrar, career services and global engagement.

During her tenure, Bellefeuille has guided the development of new academic majors for both on-campus and online programs (e.g., computer science, cybersecurity, marketing, worship arts). She undertook two major curricula reviews and guided 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), which in its first year is exceeding expectations.

During the past year, she led a significant and successful revamping of the academic calendar, classroom procedures and communication processes for faculty, students and academic administration amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In recognition of her academic leadership, she has served for the past two years as Chair of the Commission of Chief Academic Officers of the national Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).

“My motivation to accept the interim position stems solely from my love and respect for faith-based higher education,” says Bellefeuille. “There has never been a more important time for students to have the option of being influenced by people of deep faith and high academic caliber. My colleagues have been extremely supportive and they recognize we can only move forward together.”

Bethel will launch a search for a new vice president for academic services prior to Bellefeuille beginning in her new role. She is the second female vice president at Bethel University and the first female to become acting president.

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