The Top Stories of 2020

At the beginning of 2020—what feels like a century ago—we all had our own ideas of what the year would turn into. While we continue to honor and mourn the things that have changed across our world, we also recognize how much there is to celebrate.

By Katie Johnson ’19, content specialist

January 01, 2021 | 3 p.m.

Join us as we say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021 by counting down the top ten stories of the year.

Join us as we say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021 by counting down the top ten stories of the year.

It’s no secret that the Bethel community treasures stories about overcoming adversity, building renovations, and university announcements. 2020’s top 10 stories include all of the above, and as we close the longest year of our lives, we acknowledge the hardship, joy, loss, discomfort, celebration, growth, and triumph woven into our community—for you all have proven time and time again how resilient Royals really are.

#10 Bethel Launches the Called to More Campaign

At a community-wide virtual event on November 12, Bethel celebrated the public launch of its $150.5 million Called to More campaign. The most ambitious in university history, the campaign engages donors, alumni, employees, parents, students, and friends in a united effort to propel Bethel into the future. Focused on five critical priorities, the $150.5 million fundraising effort has already begun to transform the academic and spiritual lives of students.

#9 Bethel Ed.D. Student Brings Finnish Practices to Minnesota Classrooms

Principal Jeannie Mayer is always looking to improve her students' education. She’s eliminated homework across the elementary school. Her implementation of ENVoY classroom management techniques has reduced office referrals by 80%. And now she’s bringing principles of a Finnish education to her school, all in the name of serving students well. 

#8 Bringing Serenity to the Front Lines 

Nurse anesthetist CoryAnn Kleinhaus ’12 serves on the front lines of COVID-19 care, where she strives to focus on the humanity of each patient and bring the serenity of faith to the uncertainty of the pandemic. At Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, she provides anesthesia for specialty surgeries and also serves on the intubation team. In that role, she responds to codes in the emergency room, intensive care unit, and other areas, inserting breathing tubes for seriously ill patients, including patients with COVID-19. “We see very ill COVID-19 patients, many elderly,” Kleinhaus says. “And each one is a person. Each one has a family, friends, and a personal story. I try to remember that as I care for them.”

#7 Science Addition to Open in Time for Fall 2020 Classes

Bethel announced that an 18,000-square-foot science addition was completed in time for fall 2020 classes, in partnership with McGough Construction. The addition houses dedicated space for biology and chemistry and is part of a multi-year, donor-funded renovation and construction project designed to support the growing number—and size—of programs in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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Science Addition: Opening Fall 2020

Artistic renderings of the science addition at Bethel University

#6 Anderson Center Property on Its Way to Becoming Home to Senior Living Community and Fire Station

Bethel is in the process of selling the northwest six acres of the 42-acre Anderson Center property to New Perspective for a senior complex, and the northeast 3.7 acres to Lake Johanna Fire Department for a new fire station. The southern end of the property, which features miles of walking trails adjacent to Crepeau Nature Preserve, will remain a natural amenity for both Bethel and the surrounding community. 

#5 Meet Bethel’s Incoming Class

Welcome Week 2020 showed no shortage of enthusiasm. Like years past, incoming students were warmly greeted on their move-in day by dozens of Welcome Week staff. New student move-in took place August 24-28, and the weekend featured a live streamed kickoff event, campus tours, an adapted Koinonia service, Movie on the Lawn, and a variety of other events. Community members wore face coverings, practiced social distancing, and welcomed more than 700 students into the Bethel family. 

#4 Bethel Faculty and Administrators Granted Emeritus Status

The Bethel University Board of Trustees has voted to honor nine Bethel faculty and administrators for their years of distinguished, Christ-centered service by granting them emeritus status. Recipients include Dr. James H. Barnes III, Dr. Bernita E. Missal, Dr. Eric J. Gossett, Dr. Thomas R. Greenlee, Dr. Karen M. McKinney, Dr. Patricia C. Paulson, Dr. Deborah L. Sullivan-Trainor, Dr. Carole J. Young, and Dr. David K. Clark.

#3 Bethel Alumnus to Become Chief Justice of S.D. Supreme Court 

In January 2021, Steven Jensen ’85 will take over as chief justice, the administrative head of the South Dakota court system, and oversee its more than 500 employees and a $58 million budget. As he prepares for the position, Jensen looks back at how his time at Bethel prepared him for life beyond graduation. "From the standpoint of my Bethel experience, I had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it,” Jensen says. “But just the combination of growing academically and growing spiritually—I think that really set me up for life."

#2 Bethel Launches the George Floyd Scholarship 

Bethel University established the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship in June 2020, shortly after the tragic death of George Floyd—a Black Minneapolis resident—at the hands of a white police officer. Available to incoming students of African American or Black heritage in the College of Arts & Sciences, College of Adult & Professional Studies, Bethel Seminary, and Graduate School, the endowed scholarship is meant to support the education of the next generation of leaders. By naming the scholarship after George Floyd, we acknowledge that his life was inherently valuable in the eyes of God, and the pain and destruction caused by racism should have no place in our university or our society. Imperfectly yet insistently, we will continue to do the hard, lifelong work of justice and reconciliation—for God’s glory and our neighbors’ good.

#1 Ross Allen Named Bethel University’s Sixth President-Elect 

After an extensive nationwide search, the Board of Trustees unanimously named Ross Allen the sixth president-elect of Bethel University. The decision marks a significant milestone in the work led by Presidential Search Committee Chair Jim Green and Board of Trustees Chair Julie White, who narrowed an extensive pool of candidates down to one. “Of all the candidates we interviewed, Ross demonstrated a uniquely thorough understanding of Bethel’s mission and the challenges facing Christian higher education,” White says. “He is a deeply committed Christ-follower, a seasoned executive leader, and a transformative developer of people, culture, and organizations. We are thrilled to welcome Ross back to Bethel.”

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