As part of the emphasis on common ground – the theme infused into the General Education curriculum – Bethel College’s annual awards convocations were arranged differently this year.

In the past, one has focused on academic excellence and the other on athletic achievement. This year, the two final convocations of the year, held May 7 and 11, had some of both.

Brad Born '84, vice president for academic affairs, opened the May 7 convocation by noting the change from the past practice of separating academic and athletic awards. Integrating the awards, he said, illustrated a celebration of excellence in academics, in athletics and in service and modeling character.

The first of the special awards was a new one that the family of Seth Dunn established following his death. Dunn, of Fresno, Calif., was killed in a skateboarding accident Aug. 1, 2011. He would have been a graduating senior.

Dale Schrag '69, campus pastor, noted that the award stipulates that primary consideration will be given to a senior who identifies areas of needed change on campus, challenges others and takes action that makes a difference in accordance with the stated ideals and values of the Bethel community.

He presented the award to Naomi Graber, graduating senior from Elkhart, Ind.

Other special awards were:

  • Gerald Schrag Award for mathematics to Abram Rodenberg, senior from Halstead?
  • Dorothy Wedel Kaufman Honor Scholarships in Literary Studies to Nicole Eitzen, junior from Xalapa, Mexico, Martin Olson, senior from Denver, and Marike Stucky, junior from Moundridge
  • C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest awards to Natasha Orpin, senior from Canton, first place for The Power of One; Renee Reimer, senior from Sioux Falls, S.D., second place for I Have a Dream; and Sarah Pohl, graduating senior from Moundridge, third place for Peace within the Mennonite Church.?
  • Nancy Lugo-Baez, assistant professor of nursing, introduced the Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society inductees, graduating seniors Grace Cody, Hutchinson, Danica Cox, Weskan, Wendy Stephens, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Addison Wolf, Moundridge. Cody also received the Iota Chi Excellence in Nursing Scholarship Award for having the highest grade point average in the senior nursing class.

The May 7 awards convocation concluded with special recognitions:

  • The Admissions office named two students ambassadors of the year - Brian Skinner, senior from Clay Center, and Ariane Bergen, senior from Moundridge.
  • The George Rogers Outstanding Athlete of the Year Award went to Trey Ronnebaum, graduating senior from Wichita and a four-year letter winner in men's basketball, and Katie Malotte, graduating senior from Marysville, a four-year letter winner and three-time KCAC Player of the Year in women's tennis.
  • The 2012 Douglas A. Penner Champions of Character Scholarship recipient was Jerrell Williams, junior from Garland, Texas.
  • The Gerry Sieber Service Award went to Royce Flaming from the maintenance department, whom Bethel Athletic Director Kent Allshouse noted was an outstanding supporter, along with his wife Jennifer of Bethel athletics and Bethel athletes.

At the May 11 awards convocation, athletic training faculty gave gifts to graduating seniors Kellen Goertzen, Henderson, Neb., Kristen Lohaus, Noble, Okla., and Jessica Muckenthaler, Emporia. They also recognized Kansas Athletic Trainers Society (KATS) honors for 2012: 1st Team: Emily Gundy, senior from Halstead; Lohaus; Whitney Steingard, senior from Henderson, Neb.; and Jacob Stucky, senior from Moundridge; 2nd Team: Goertzen; Honorable Mention: Sadie Minkevitch, junior from Newton, Steph Shogren, junior from Hesston, and Tanner Smith, junior from Hiawatha.

Chad Schilling '96, sports information director and volleyball coach, and Allshouse named the winners of four-year letter awards and KCAC and NAIA athletic awards.

Other awards and special recognitions were:

  • Writing Fellowship award to Rebecca Epp, junior from North Newton
  • J. Lloyd Spaulding Award for Economics and Business to Camille Claassen, graduating senior from Whitewater
  • John O. and Esther Schrag Helping Hand Award to Francisca Méndez-Harclerode, assistant professor of biology, from a nomination (made this year in verse) from Allison Yoder, senior from Kalona, Iowa
  • Resident Assistant of the Year award to Lucas Stertz, graduating senior from Lincoln and an RA in Voth Hall

There were also four Thresher Awards given to seniors being honored for making an outstanding contribution in their academic field (see Take Note).

Bethel President Perry D. White concluded the final convocation of the year by noting staff promotions: Mark Jantzen '85 to professor of history and Nathan Bartel '02 (literary studies), Christine Crouse-Dick (communication arts) and Lisa Janzen Scott '84 (education, mathematics) from assistant professor to associate professor.

He also recognized two staff members who have been at Bethel for 25 years - Karen Garcia, financial aid, and Greta Hiebert '85, inter-library loan. Finally, White led a standing ovation for Rodney Frey '67, registrar, who retired at the end of June after 34 years at Bethel College - 14 as a professor in industrial arts and 21 as registrar (with one year in which he did both)