Opinion

Bethany College ideal is enduring

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register 

WHEELING, W.Va. — Liberal arts schooling has become irrelevant during an era of fast-paced change in which many young people want colleges and universities to provide them with the credentials needed to pursue specific careers, some in higher education believe.

Someone forgot to convince the Bethany College community of that. More important, a substantial number of students didn’t get the message. Neither did Bethany’s many successful graduates.

Bethany officials this week announced the Rev. Dr. Tamara Rodenberg has been named as the college’s 20th president. She will take office Jan. 1.

Rodenberg appears to be an excellent choice to lead the 175-year-old college. As Greg Jordan, chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees, noted, Rodenberg “understands and honors Bethany’s deep traditions, yet has a vision for its vibrant future.”

Jordan’s choice of words is both illuminating and important. During a challenging time for many in higher education, officials at some colleges have turned away from their liberal arts traditions.

It is true some at liberal arts colleges, as well as some big universities, have forgotten what “well-rounded” really means. It emphatically does not mean turning out “academics” – people who may only know a lot about history, the arts, literature or other “non-vocational” subjects.

Liberal arts education as practiced at Bethany means much more. It gives graduates a broad foundation of knowledge with very specific training in certain skills, such as writing and speaking effectively, that give alumni a definite advantage over many other college and university graduates.

One sentence in how Bethany officials describe the college makes their philosophy clear (italics are ours):?”The college’s program of classical liberal arts education prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.”

Rather than change Bethany’s core mission, then, Rodenberg’s task will be to guide the college in sticking to it while seizing the opportunities of the future for both the institution and its students.

We join the Bethany community, then, in welcoming Rodenberg. And we congratulate her on her perceptiveness in accepting a post that certainly will be challenging – but in which she will have a “product” that never goes out of style.

To read more from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register, subscribe here. 

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter