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Retirement Celebration Committee

Faculty and Staff:

We are so grateful for Jay and Barb Barnes, and their many years of service to Bethel. We know how much they are loved, respected, and highly regarded in our community. We want to ensure there are many opportunities to celebrate them, along with Jay’s humble leadership and many accomplishments at Bethel. 

We have put together a retirement celebration committee to begin planning events throughout the next 16 months to honor President Jay Barnes. The committee will include several members of the community, Jay and Barb’s daughter, and two members of the Board of Trustees. We are grateful the following individuals have agreed to serve:

  • John Addleman (Special Assistant to the President)
  • Jim Bender (Chief Advancement Officer) 
  • Laurel Bunker (Associate Vice President of Christian Formation and Church Relations)  
  • Deb Harless (Executive Vice President and University Provost)  
  • Joyce LeMay (Associate Professor, Business and Economics Department)  
  • Dawn Marcus (Bethel Board of Trustee)  
  • Laura McKnight (Bethel Board of Trustee)
  • Jon Veenker (Associate Professor, Music Department)  
  • Michael Vedders (Chief Enrollment and Marketing Officer)  
  • William Washington (Vice President of Student Life)
  • Rebecca Wekesser (Daughter of Jay and Barb Barnes)
  • Avis Soderstrom (Chair of Retirement Committee; Director of Conference and Event Services) 

Over the next several months this committee will work with the Board of Trustees to define a budget and structure and a calendar of events, including special ways to honor Jay and Barb with the larger Bethel community during Homecoming, Festival of Christmas, and Commencement. 

This group will work separately from the presidential search committee, which will be announced in the coming weeks. I appreciate the willingness these individuals have shown to serve in this capacity and I look forward to working with them.

If you have any questions our ideas, you can contact the Committee chair Avis Soderstrom at a-soderstrom@bethel.edu. 

Serving together,

Julie White, chair of the Bethel University Board of Trustees