Becoming Bethel University
Q&A With Board Chairman Randy Lehman ’82
Randy Lehman ’82 is not only a Bethel College graduate and donor, he’s this year’s Alumnus of the Year and Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Earlier this year, the Board made the historic decision to change Bethel’s name to Bethel University as of May 6, 2019. Lehman shares more about the decision and the Board’s vision for moving Bethel forward.
How did the discussion for the name change start?
This was not a new topic for the board. It had been talked about at great length about 15 years ago. In January 2018, we met to discuss strategic planning and cast a vision for Bethel’s future. In the midst of that, the name change topic was brought up and we began to wonder if the time was right.
What was the process for making this decision?
Once we opened the discussion, we commissioned some research – focus groups of alumni, donors, faculty and staff, current students, prospective students and community members; conversations with other institutions who had made the change from college to university; and an audit of campus branding to determine the impact of a change. At the April board meeting, these findings informed our discussion and unanimous vote to move forward.
How did the Board ultimately decide on the name Bethel University?
Although we knew the name would change to university, we requested more research to identify options. We didn’t want to rush the decision and wanted to gather input from constituents. An independent, outside firm conducted a survey with about 20,000 Bethel constituents. Results were presented to the Board in July, and we voted and determined the name would be Bethel University. This name received the support of a large majority of those surveyed.
Is the name change part of Bethel’s current enrollment strategy?
No, this is not an enrollment strategy. The discussion was prompted by a recognition of who Bethel already is, not who we hope to become. Compared to the Bethel of 1947, our enrollment now includes graduate students (1 in 8), online students (1 in 10) and a more internationally focused student body (1 in 12 born outside the United Sates). When you look at peer institutions across the country, “University” is the category in which we fit.
Will this change anything about the mission of Bethel?
No. Although our student composition has changed in 70 years, our mission has not. Bethel remains steadfast in our commitment to provide a Christ-centered education that equips leaders to make a Kingdom impact in the church and the world. We will continue to have a community atmosphere where relationships and spiritual formation are at the core of the student experience.
Is there anything else alumni and friends should know about the name change?
The change to Bethel University punctuates an already exciting year for the institution. The Board isn’t doing this out of desperation to get Bethel on the right track; it is an acknowledgement that we are confidently striding towards our future as Bethel University. And that is something that our alumni and friends should get excited about!
Frequently Asked Questions
When will the change officially happen?
We operate as Bethel University starting May 6, 2019.
Can alumni order diplomas with the new name?
Yes, alumni may order a Bethel University diploma at cost. Watch for more details in the spring.
Will Bethel’s logo, seal, colors, mascot or motto change?
The logo and seal will be updated, but there will be no changes to the blue and white colors, mascot or motto.
When will new Bethel University apparel be available from the Campus Store?
Items will be available for purchase in May 2019. However, you may begin to see new Bethel University items this fall, as we build excitement for the change through giveaways.
For more FAQs and information about the change, visit BethelCollege.edu/University.