A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. — Marcus Garvey
With the reading of the charter on May 23, 2012, the Bethel College community kicked off a year-long celebration of our 125th anniversary. This celebration gives us the opportune time to get
back to our roots as an institution and, at the same time, raises a number of questions for us to contemplate as we seek better ways to serve students of today and the next century.
What does it mean to get back to our roots? What are the unique values and traditions of our institution? How shall we celebrate those who came before us? How does looking back prepare us for our future? How might getting back to our roots make us a more welcoming and inclusive institution?
As we closed the 2012 commencement ceremony in May, I shared the following remarks with the graduating class: You know, to my way of thinking, there are few decisions in life that impact and shape one's future as much as their college choice. When you selected this institution, you actually selected an 'educational lineage.' You chose a pedigree that is based in the history, culture, values, and achievements of Bethel College; achievements most often evidenced by the accomplishments of our graduates.
That's why I have become so very proud of this institution. Bethel's graduates have excelled in areas such as the arts, business, education, law, medicine, ministry, science, the social sectors and especially in their service to others. However, a Bethel education is so much more than just a degree; it will impact the way you live your life. It is a part of your lineage and you will always be linked to Bethel College.
Regardless of how often we see you, know that we welcome you as members of our institutional family. We are proud of you and have great expectations for you. We know that you will represent us well.
I was pleased to remind our most recent graduates of their continued connections as members of the Bethel family. As Alex Haley, the author of Roots, said,
When you talk about family, about lineage and ancestry, you are talking about every person on earth. In every conceivable manner, the family is our link to the past and bridge to our future. I like the inclusive nature of this statement - and it is not only true for individuals, but also for institutions such as Bethel.
Over the course of the coming year, our goal is to further discover the values and traditions of Bethel College, to get to know more about those things that unite us as a community, those traditions that span decades and generations.
As we seek to answer the questions above, I hope you'll join us on that journey. I hope that you will find every opportunity to reinvigorate your relationship with the Bethel family and rediscover your roots. For although time marches on and life brings forth new chapters for each of us, let us be mindful of and cherish the values we share through our time spent on the Bethel College campus.