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Jay Barnes

Jay became Bethel University's fifth president on July 1, 2008, after serving as executive vice president and provost of the College of Arts & Sciences, College of Adult & Professional Studies, and Graduate School for 13 years.

"My heart has been pulled toward seeing God work in people's lives in educational settings so that they are different as a result of the encounters they've had in the classrooms, faculty offices, hallways, work offices, athletic teams, and elsewhere."

Full Name

James H. Barnes III, but he prefers just Jay.


  • B.S., Wheaton College
  • M.A. in Educational Counseling, University of Connecticut
  • Ed.D. in College Student Personnel Work, Loyola University of Chicago
  • Certificate, Harvard University Institute for Educational Management
  • Certificate in Fundraising Management, Indiana University Center on Philanthropy


Before Bethel, Jay served as the dean for student development and vice president for student development for 15 years at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. He was a residence director at Wheaton College for four years, and served as teacher, vice principal, and then principal at Black Forest Academy in Kandern, Germany, in the early-mid 1970s.

Jay's Passion for Bethel

Promoting a "three-legged stool" model of education, Jay wants Bethel to be a place where students develop intellectually, personally, and spiritually. He believes Bethel's seven core values must pervade each area of the university, and a true measure of success is witnessing these values in graduates' intellect, character, interpersonal relationships and Christian faith.

"I believe that Christ calls us to be peacemakers, to care for those at the margins, and to be more concerned with others than with self."

He's committed to achieving greater racial and cultural diversity at Bethel to better celebrate and reflect the body of Christ. To that end, he continues to grow in his own understanding of reconciliation and encourages staff and students to do so as well. To help students see the world from another prospective, Jay promotes studies abroad, believing they can produce life transformation.

"When we see God from the point of view of those whose life experiences are different from our own, our understanding of Him is enriched."

Jay hopes graduates leave Bethel energized to serve in unique ways that will renew minds, live out biblical truth, transform culture, and advance the Gospel.

"I want them to be change agents-to be adventurous Christ-followers who live like Jesus!"

When He's Not at Work

Jay and Barb have been married since 1971. They have 3 children and 8 grandchildren. Active members at Calvary Baptist Church in Roseville, Minn., they teach Sunday school and serve on various boards and committees. Together they enjoy gardening, canoeing in the Boundary Waters, and working on their home (less than a mile from campus).