MISHAWAKA - Bethel College will become Bethel University. The Mishawaka school says the change reflects a more international and current image. During an unveiling Wednesday, officials said the new name will take effect May 6.

The college opened in 1947 and the board of trustees says the concept of changing from Bethel College to Bethel University was first broached 15 years ago and then re-visited when board members met in the spring. Board Chairman Randy Lehman says the name closely aligns with peer institutions throughout the world. "Bethel's student composition and academic offerings have changed since we first opened our doors in 1947. Enrollment now includes about one in eight graduate students, about one in 10 online students, and about one in 12 students born outside the United States," he said. "'University' is the category in which we fit."

The board considered several other options and the unanimous decision, it says, was informed by four months of research. A committee of Bethel leaders will oversee the transition to Bethel University. The "Pilots" mascot, school motto and color scheme will remain.

Recently, Bethel's board approved the four-year GROW Agenda put forth by President Gregg Chenoweth. The plans focuses on boosting access through more athletic programs and facilities, "more sophisticated" digital marketing and financial aid and doubling online undergraduate and graduate programs. The first projects are the Van and Jean Gates Admissions Center and the school's first endowed professor.

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