Longtime Friends; Cramer and Engbrecht
They are former Bethel students turned colleagues. President Steven Cramer, Ph.D., (’75) and Senior Vice President Dennis Engbrecht, Ph.D., have ties to the college’s founding fathers, share a love for the school and a deep warmth for each other.
In the late ‘60s, Cramer says he and Engbrecht lived in a Bethel dormitory together. He remembers the girls were always sending cookies down the trash shoot. One time, Cramer heard a girl’s voice say, ‘The cookies are ready.’ So Cramer went to check the trash shoot, but got hit with a glass of water instead. It was a prank by Engbrecht, and it would be the first of many encounters with him.
It wasn’t until 1987, when Cramer would come back to Bethel to work with Engbrecht, that their friendship would deepen. A couple years into their roles, the college was facing a financial downturn. That’s when Engbrecht and Cramer started running every morning around the soccer field, talking and praying together, making it through a stressful time.
When Norman V. Bridges, Ph.D., announced his presidential retirement, Cramer says it was Engbrecht who talked him into applying for the position, even though Cramer tried to convince Engbrecht to do the same.
“We made a pact that we would serve together and leave together,” says Cramer.
That word is true to this day. Cramer is set to retire on June 30, 2013, and Engbrecht will retire as Bethel’s senior vice president.