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Bethel Remembers Stacey Hunter Hecht

Stacey Hunter Hecht was associate professor and chair of the political science department. She passed away on December 9.

Associate Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department Stacey Hunter Hecht passed away on December 9 after a battle with breast cancer.

Hecht joined the faculty at Bethel in 1997. Her area of expertise was American politics and government, and political theory. In addition to teaching at Bethel, she regularly served on a panel of political scientists on the local television show Almanac, which aired on Twin Cities Public Television. “In this and other activities, she served as a great ambassador for Bethel,” says Fred Van Geest, professor of political science.

“One of Stacey's greatest strengths was her leadership,” Van Geest adds. “She served as chair of the political science department for over a decade, my entire time here at Bethel. She was an incredible servant in this job.  Her hard work and dedication to this position made our jobs so much easier. She was proud of our department and proud of our students. She loved teaching and mentoring students.”

Hecht helped students to establish a political science honors club on campus, Pi Sigma Alpha, and she also served as the pre-law advisor to students who were planning to attend law school after graduation. She worked hard to develop and maintain relationships with alumni and their employers in order to arrange internships for students.

“Stacey Hunter Hecht was the reason I declared a political science major–and a huge reason why (and how) I work in Congress today,” says Allie Ryan ’11, a former student who remembered Hecht on Facebook recently. “She taught me everything from how to write a proper resume and email to formulating dialogues and arguments to, most importantly, how to glorify Jesus Christ in everything I do. I am heartbroken that she is gone. It is such a loss for all who knew and studied under her.”

Hecht also led study abroad trips for Bethel students to China and Amsterdam, and would host international students in her home. She was involved with the local Twin Cities Chinese community and an active member of Como Park Lutheran Church.

Chris Gehrz, professor of history at Bethel and a friend of Hecht’s, remembers first meeting her when he interviewed for his position at Bethel in March 2003. “About five or six years into her own time at Bethel, Stacey was then serving on the Appointments Committee. One of the most effective committee members I’ve ever known, she surely asked good questions about my views on teaching, scholarship, and what Christianity had to do with those activities,” Gehrz writes on his blog, The Pietist Schoolman. “But about 30 or so minutes in, Stacey clearly had made up her mind and was ready to move on to next steps: where I should live when I moved to the Twin Cities, where I should go to church, where I should take my car for repairs…” Gehrz went on to write how that meeting began a friendship that he will always cherish.

Barrett Fisher, dean of arts and humanities for the College of Arts & Sciences, also comments on Hecht’s leadership and adept committee skills. “She was an energetic and visionary leader of the political science department,” says Fisher. “In her tenure as chair she hired strategically to rebuild and expand the department after the retirement of two long-serving faculty members. The excellent faculty she leaves behind represents just one of her most valuable legacies. Any committee that Stacey served on—or any group that she was part of—benefited from her incisive intelligence, practical wisdom, and savvy analysis.”

Hecht grew up in western Pennsylvania and received her bachelor’s degree from Penn State University in 1989. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 2000. In November, she and her co-editor David Schulz published Presidential Swing States: Why Only Ten Matter (Lexington Books). She was the author of articles and book chapters on religion and politics, social policy, and state politics.

A campus memorial service will be held on Wednesday, December 16, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in the Bethel Seminary Chapel. In addition, a visitation will be held on Wednesday, December 16, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Holcomb-Henry-Boom-Purcell Funeral Home, 515 Highway 96 West, Shoreview, Minnesota. A gathering to remember Stacey will be held at Como Lutheran Church on Thursday, December 17, at 11 a.m.  

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