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Summary of the October Board of Trustees Meeting

Colleagues:

Last week the Board of Trustees met on campus. We had a good meeting with extensive discussions about various topics. 

We reviewed with the board all of the recent changes that have occurred at Bethel, including the decision to reinstate the theatre arts minor and media production major. The board also upheld the decision to close Bethel Seminary San Diego. The Board indicated a willingness to engage in additional conversation with stakeholders of Bethel Seminary San Diego about the transition and future possibilities regarding the properties owned by Bethel University in San Diego. This finalizes the decisions made as a result of the work from the first four working groups.

The first plenary session for the board was a discussion on the question: who are we? In the past two years, we have received questions asking if Bethel is straying from our Christian mission. The concerns have escalated to the point that we wanted to address this topic with the board. Some of the questions that have arisen are about how we teach about the Bible in our classrooms. We invited Professor of Biblical Studies Juan Hernández Jr. to provide a classroom experience for our board. 

The second plenary session turned the question into a statement: Who we are. In this session, our approach was to remind board members of our foundational documents—our Affirmation of Faith and Covenant for Life Together. We explained that educating as a Christian liberal arts university means we often lead with questions before we get to answers. This also led to a robust conversation about how we make decisions on difficult topics. For both sessions, we wanted to inform the board of the questions and conversations we are having with constituents and to help them better understand who we are so they can assist us in responding. 

In addition to the more formal sessions, board members also had opportunities to talk with students over lunch and hear from hockey player David Becker over dinner. Vice President for Student Life William Washington and Softball Coach Penny Foore spoke about how Student Life and athletics contribute to developing whole and holy students. 

We are blessed at Bethel to have a board filled with individuals who care deeply about our university and support us in many ways. Through all the challenges we have faced this past year, our board members have been important partners and God has been faithful.

Serving together,

Jay