The decision to change from Bethel College to Bethel University, President Gregg Chenoweth says, is all about the present. "When I mentioned this in chapel, for example, students erupted with applause," he told Inside INdiana Business. "This is not a strategy for us, it’s just a reflection of our composition having changed." The Mishawaka-based institution says its make-up now consists of about one-eighth graduate students, one-tenth online students and one-twelfth students born outside the U.S.
Chenoweth says the switch from college to university, which will be official in May, "addresses all things at one time." He adds Bethel’s graduate-level research opportunities have risen throughout the years, as have the number of international students and the number of online programs, which Chenoweth says are expected to rise from about 10 currently to around 15 by the end of the academic year.
The college last explored the possibility of changing to university 15 years ago and re-visited the idea earlier this year. The board of trustees conducted surveys and held focus groups that informed the unanimous decision to select the name Bethel University over several other potential options. "The connotation of university among our constituents resonated very well with who we already are," Chenoweth said. Bethel University will be the official name beginning May 6.
Within the last 20 years, multiple colleges throughout the state made the same decision as Bethel. Saint Francis College shifted to Saint Francis University in 1998. In 2005, Huntington College in northwest Indiana changed to Huntington University. Marian College became Marian University in 2009 and Manchester College made the switch to Manchester University in 2012.
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Bethel College President Gregg Chenoweth says the switch from college to university, which will be official in May, “addresses all things at one time.”