Diversity and Inclusion

facts on student diversity population

We're Serious, Because It Matters

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Bethel University is an institutional response to achieve academic and institutional excellence. Through excellence, we can address the needs and inequalities of historically disadvantaged individuals or groups, while fostering a learning environment and inclusive community for all students, faculty and staff to succeed in an increasingly diverse society. These groups include:

  • Students of color
  • Low-income students
  • First generation students
  • Women
  • Deaf community
  • College employees

Real Life, Real Stories

Our Focus


The mission of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is to educate, engage and empower the Bethel University community through collaborations and resources to achieve academic and institutional excellence while fostering an inclusive campus climate.

The office supports our mission to provide liberating academic and co-curricular programs to challenge the mind, enlarge the vision and equip the whole person for lifelong service. It is our desire to see God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven and to exemplify God’s love and grace in the pursuit of excellence.

Goals for Our Three Principles


Improve the recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff of color.
Create a hospitable environment for all students, faculty and staff to experience acceptance, belonging and feel empowered to engage in the campus culture as a valued member of our community.
To serve  the larger Michiana community by providing opportunities of community engagement through collaboration and programs sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Commitment to Diversity

A letter from our president:

Friends and Visitors to Bethel University, my warm greetings!

These pages offer interesting facts and plans about Diversity and Inclusion at Bethel University. But there’s a story, too. It’s in me.

Truth is, I am a living, breathing stereotype. No surprise a middle-aged, bald, sometimes-bespeckeled, white man presides over a Midwestern university! The guy in that photo is a second-generation college student who graduated with no college debt, and enjoyed an affluent, suburban childhood, full of opportunities. I had a happy, in-tact home. Dad owned a successful business. Mom was a teacher. Both grandfathers were pastors. For goodness’ sake, I was even quarterback of the football team, married a cute gal, had three kids, and set-up life with a white picket fence, literally! Even my son-in-law is All World.

It’s an embarrassment of riches. Life is good. But it’s cliché.

While Bethel University has never been an exclusive or racially charged place, most of our institutional history was led by folks with my experience too. Historic photos in the halls of our administration building feature former board members, presidents, professors, and seminal leaders who look like me and had, in large measure, my life experience.

The problem for me, despite being raised in the church and practicing hospitality and generosity, was that my 20s were filled with thoughts of reverse discrimination. Quota-thinking in hiring, promotions, or admissions bugged me. I didn’t get it.

But many years ago, I converted in a couple of ways. First, the concerns of Diversity took residence in me. I lived in Korea, became custodial parent of a Korean high school immigrant to our home in the United States, visited a lot of countries, and got into relationship with friends of color in my town. I came to see contextual reasons – not just personal ones – which correlate to a flourishing or struggling life.

A far more important conversion, however, was my decision to follow the leadership of Christ. He put new eyes in me for what is His Kingdom and His people. He instructed disciples to seek that God’s will be done on Earth just as it is in Heaven. Imagine that! Since Scripture says that in Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek, man or woman, slave or free, your eyes and heart change. You don’t look at people, you see them as He does – enormously valuable, gifted, and called to fulfill a meaningful purpose. That changes everything. As we remove barriers to this flourishing, and enable everyone to maximize their potential in Christ, it brings Heaven to Earth in the here-and-now!

Bethel has done great work on this value for decades. Diversity and Inclusion probably isn’t a stark and grievous problem to fix, but a strength to serve. We haven’t failed, but surely aren’t finished in bringing Heaven to Earth. We don’t yet love perfectly across gender, race, and culture. But our aspirations can still define us. We have the will to see Heaven on Earth in greater measure.

I want our students of color – now one out of every three Bethel students – to flourish. Others do, too. That’s why Diversity is an institutional value to help employees and students of color be truly welcomed into our community and Inclusion values that we help others remain to completely fulfill God’s best plan for their lives. Join us!


Gregg A. Chenoweth, Ph.D.

A Biblical Basis for Diversity

God teaches in Scripture that the human race is one. As Paul preached to the Athenian philosophers, "From one man God made every nation of the human race, that they should inhabit the whole earth" (Acts 17:26). It is within this greater context of unity that humanity's diversity rightly appears. Human diversity is first mentioned in Genesis 1:27, with the creation of the one human race: "So God created the human race in his own image . . . male and female he made them." The text's singular term, "human race," is characterized as diverse in gender: male and female. Diversity is immediately advanced in the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28: "Be fruitful, increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it." This great command calls explicitly for the scattering of the race, a theme that recurs in Genesis, implicitly calling for cultural diversity.

Later, after naming Noah's three sons, Genesis recounts how "from them came the people who were scattered over the earth" (9:19). This reference to "scattering" hints at the dual nature of cultural diversity in Scripture. On the one hand, cultural diversity is a proper expression of the cultural mandate: by scattering and filling the earth, humanity subdues it piece by piece. On the other hand, it is an expression of the curse enacted at Babel in response to humanity's monocultural attempt to live in defiance of God: ". . . as one people speaking one language they have begun to do this. . . . Come, let us go down and confuse their language. . . . So the Lord scattered them over the earth" (11:6‑8).

It is precisely these dispersed and alienated peoples that God calls to faith and repentance through the gospel's ministry of reconciliation. God chose one person, Abraham, to be a blessing to the world. As God promised him, "all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12:3). Such blessedness does not terminate the diversity of the peoples. That was the mistake of the Judaizers, who sought to convert Gentiles into Jews before they could be received into the church as Christians. Rather, the blessedness of reconciliation affirms the potential validity of a multitude of cultural expression.

As people from various ethnicities come to faith in Jesus Christ, he reconciles them to God the Father and therefore to each other. Thus, the Universal Church has an inherent and God‑given diversity. As Paul wrote to the divisive Christians at Corinth, "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts . . . so it is with Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12). Paul himself experienced a rich and blessed diversity in the church of Syrian Antioch, where for the first time Jewish and Gentile Christians worshiped God together on equal footing (Acts 11:19‑26). John the beloved similarly witnessed a glimpse of diversity in heaven as he viewed “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Rev. 7:9)

As it is in heaven, so let it be on earth.


Dr. Billy Kirk Leadership Award
The Dr. Billy Kirk Leadership program honors a man who served as a pastor and leader in the South Bend community for almost 50 years. In addition to being a Bethel University student in the 1950s, Rev. Kirk received an honorary doctorate from Bethel in 2001, recognizing his commitment of social justice to the South Bend/Mishawaka community. He embodied the intellectual curiosity, desire for stronger community and spiritual commitment for which we all should strive.
The scholarship is awarded to students of color within the incoming freshmen class who demonstrate a commitment to peace, community service and social justice. The award is based on the student’s academic record, personal interview, essay, reference letters, extracurricular activities, leadership involvement and financial need. Finalists are required to live on campus and attend a summer retreat.  Contact the Office of Admissions by email or apply online by Nov 1.
American Sign Language Club (ASL Club)
The ASL Club increases opportunities for ASL students to practice American Sign Language in settings outside the classroom, hosts events and trips relevant to students wishing to learn about ASL and its surrounding culture, and encourages fellowship among Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing people. Any interested student with a basic knowledge of ASL skills (knows the manual alphabet and basic introductory phrases) is invited to join.
Black Student Fellowship
Black Student Fellowship serves to create, cultivate, and challenge students at Bethel University through community service, entertainment and quality programs. This organization strives to provide social support for students of color, as well as create an environment for anyone who would like to learn more about African American culture. All students are welcome to join!
International Student Fellowship
International Student Fellowship provides a “home away from home” for students who have traveled to the United States to study. Monthly gatherings give the students an opportunity to experience local American culture, share experiences, enjoy ethnic foods, and fellowship with other international students. The club is also open to those students who have lived abroad or have an interest in learning firsthand about other cultures. Learn more about campus life for international students.