Bethel University Board Chairman Randy Lehman announces the resignation of President Gregg A. Chenoweth, Ph.D., and subsequent appointment as president of Olivet Nazarene University, in Bourbonnais, Ill., effective June 1, 2021.
“It is with a heavy heart that I make this announcement,” says Lehman. “President Chenoweth has faithfully served Bethel University for eight years, and the university has made remarkable strides during his tenure. We understand the pull to return to Olivet – his alma mater, and the place where he served many years as a professor and administrator. However, he will be sorely missed.”
Chenoweth adds, “Bethel is a special place and I’ve cherished my time here. This opportunity at Olivet came by surprise but is a sort of homecoming for me. However, I will always be thankful for the work accomplished and relationships developed at Bethel, and I will continue to further the mission until my assignment is complete.”
Bethel is poised for consistent leadership during this transition, with a strong cabinet of vice presidents who have a combined 150 years of experience in higher education, and a Board of Trustees with the same depth of experience.
Chairman Lehman says, “The Board has full confidence in our cabinet to help make this transition as smooth as possible. We are thankful that despite enrollment contraction across all of higher education, Bethel continues to thrive.”
Chenoweth’s successor will inherit an institution that has experienced advances in financial stability, programs, third-party recognitions, spiritual life, facilities and culture.
- Financially, Bethel has reduced 40% of long-term debt and increased net assets 30% over the past several years, has a cash-management plan to weather lingering COVID effects for the future, and achieved the longest series of “financially responsible" indexes in Bethel's history by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Programs have expanded to include 19 online, STEM disciplines and two debt-free paths through Bethel (BU-X and Field Scholar Program). Additionally, a $1 million Lilly Endowment Inc grant will launch this year for six quality initiatives for the coming three years, and a $60,000 Gospel Grant is launching for the coming three years to assure mission fidelity.
- Third-party endorsements have included U.S. News & World Report (which named Bethel a “Best College in the Midwest” for 17 consecutive years), Washington Monthly (on the “Best Bang for the Buck” list), Colleges of Distinction (as one of 63 Christian schools in America recognized as a College of Distinction, and a Top 50 school for Exceeding Expectations in online programs), and unconditioned accreditation renewals for all programs.
- Spiritual life has flourished, with nearly 7 in 10 traditional undergraduate students voluntarily engaged in a small discipleship group, and the establishment of the university's first Missionary Church Endowed Professor of Biblical Theology.
- Facility improvements have included a recently constructed welcome center, nursing wing and simulation lab, computer science labs, and a modern training center to support 450 athletes and the general student population.
- Culture remains strong with 9 of 10 students and employees affirming satisfaction of their choice to work and study here, and Bethel was the subject of a dissertation for being one of only six universities in America to grow to a flourishing status over five years, with traits rated stronger than industry norms in innovation, excellence, supervision, and freedom to express opinions.
A search committee will begin immediately with plans already in motion to ensure a cohesive transition in leadership. The university plans to secure an interim president while the search for a permanent one proceeds, and will engage a search firm to query constituents’ interest in the traits of the next president.
“God has blessed Bethel over these last eight years, and we have full confidence He will bless the process as we begin to search for a new president,” Lehman says.
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