NORTH NEWTON, Kan. — Bethel College President Perry D. White announced plans on Oct. 18 to step down at the conclusion of the 2016-17 academic year, concluding seven years of service to the college.
“I intend to work closely with the board and campus constituency in preparation for this transition,” he said. “I believe that the institution is in a good position to welcome the next institutional leader, and appreciate the support Dalene and I have received during our time at Bethel.”
White informed the campus community of his decision in a message distributed Oct. 18.
Board chair Heather Esau Zerger of Newton said the board was grateful to the Whites for their commitment to Bethel during their tenure.
“They have worked tirelessly both within the campus community and through their travels across the nation meeting with donors and alumni,” she said. “We wish them the best in their future endeavors.”
White took office as Bethel’s 14th president in 2010. He was previously vice president for external relations and admissions from 2008 to 2009 at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wis.
During his presidency, Bethel opened the James A. Will Family Academic Center, and added new entrance signage and renovations to Schultz Student Center and Luyken Fine Arts Center. Other campus improvements include upgrades within all of the residence halls, the addition of seating to the Ward Tennis Center, air conditioning to Thresher Gym and Memorial Hall and replacement of bleachers in Thresher Gym.
“We appreciate how Perry’s vision for the beautification of campus remarkably reshaped the campus visit and living experience, benefiting both current and prospective students,” Zerger said. “Dalene’s work with the volunteer crew contributed to boosting the overall impression of the campus, and her assistance in the admissions and advancement offices during times of transition was invaluable.”
Under White’s leadership, Bethel added academic programs to include graphic design, sport management, accounting, RICHE (Research, Internships, Careers in Health and the Environment) and a re-energized online RN-to-BSN nursing program. Softball, cheerleading and the athletic band were added to extracurricular options.
His work with the board included establishment of a vision statement and reworking of the mission and values statements, as well as the strategic plan, “Extending our Heritage, Expanding our Impact.”
The board is identifying members for a search committee, and Zerger said it “intends to proceed expeditiously.”
White has a bachelor of arts degree in music education from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, a master of music degree in choral conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a doctor of musical arts degree in choral conducting from the University of Oklahoma.
Between 1983 and 1998, White taught vocal music at the middle school, high school and college levels in Iowa, Missouri and Texas. He went to Monmouth (Ill.) College in 1998 as a professor of music. He became vice president for college advancement at Monmouth in 2004.