Bethel Magazine

Profile—Dottie Haugen

Spring 2010| By Michelle Westlund '83

Dottie Haugen

Dottie Haugen

Dottie Haugen sets you straight from the beginning. “When you talk about me at Bethel, you really need to talk about God,” she insists. “He engineered the whole thing.”

Haugen, assistant professor of physical education, will retire this spring after 25 years at Bethel. The “whole thing” she refers to is her life, all 72 years of it, including a teaching career of 41 years. “I’m old enough now to look back and see God’s design for my life,” she confides. “And I feel like I have been led from one place to another. I opened my hands to the Lord and said, ‘Help Yourself to my life,’ and He has totally and completely directed me.”

In 1985, He directed her to Bethel, where she has been able to combine her three greatest passions—God, people, and physical fitness—into a meaningful job and ministry. “This job lets me operate within the parameters of my gifts and interests,” she enthuses. “I just love it here!”

Haugen has given her heart to Bethel’s ministry year after year. Her motivation comes from John 21. While reading Scripture in her office one day, Jesus’ words to Peter suddenly seemed to speak directly to her. “Feed my sheep,” she muses. “That’s my calling: nurturing and building people up physically and spiritually. It’s my mandate from the Lord.” Physical and spiritual fitness have some remarkable parallels, Haugen says. Both require an act of the will and must be pursued with intentionality. This awareness helps explain her unquenchable passion for teaching skills classes each year with renewed vigor. “I am inspired to make physical education fun, so that young people will want to weave physical activity into their lives for a lifetime,” she says. “It’s not just about golf or tennis. It’s about people!”

She insists that Bethel has also given back to her. “This environment encourages and affirms me,” she says. “My colleagues are smart, professional, and love kids, and I have support from every area of the institution to do my job the best I can.”

That support came during some of her darkest days when her husband Jim passed away in 2005. It has included her brightest moments too, like the graduations of sons Tom and Peter —and their wives, Wendy and Brenda, respectively—from Bethel, and the births of five grandchildren.

Haugen speaks with her customary candor when asked about retirement. “Don’t ask me what I’m going to do!” she chides. “I’ve already done everything I wanted to do, so I don’t see the big deal about retirement. My hands are open: I want to be faithful, I want to be obedient! What’s next?”

Then she grows pensive. “My claim for my last year of teaching comes from Deuteronomy 33:25, which says, ‘…as thy days, so shall thy strength be.’ I want to finish like a runner—with a kick!”