- Two projects that Matthew Holt, Executive Director of Bethel University’s Renaissance, has worked on in the past year have been nominated for the Music Industry’s top honor, a Grammy. The Martin’s A Capella Project contains a song that he arranged and produced. He also played the piano on the Gaither Vocal Band’s Hymn Project. Both albums have been nominated for Best Gospel Album. “The Martins are thrilled with the nomination,” exclaimed Joyce Martin, of the Martin’s. “We had several producers work on this project and Matthew's contribution is perfection! Congratulations, sir. Thank you for sharing your genius with us.” Matthew has been writing and arranging music for quite some time. He co-owns HabeHolt Music, a music publishing company that has been successful in getting more than 100 songs recorded and released by major artists, including several number one songs. “I am so excited and blessed to be a part of these amazing works, and even more thankful for the great people that I get to work with,” Matthew added. Both projects can be purchased on iTunes.
- Bethel University held Fall 2014 Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 6 at the Rosemary and Harry Crisp II Arena on the school’s McKenzie campus. A total of 501 students graduated earning the following degrees: Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts in Education, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Criminal Justice, Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution, Associate of Arts and Associate of Science. The honorable Dale Kelley, Mayor for the town of Huntingdon and Athletic Director at Bethel University, was the Commencement speaker. Before his speech, Kelley was presented a Doctor of Humane Letters from Bethel – a degree that is given to individuals who distinguish themselves in their communities. Kelley has an extensive background in government and civic service as well as in athletics. Kelley, who is a Bethel alumnus, told the graduates about sitting in 1966 where they were today. “I sat where you are today, with questions about my future,” he said. “I wondered where will I go from here?” Kelley told graduates about how Bethel holds a special place in his heart. “Many doors that were opened and opportunities that came my way were rooted in my Bethel connections,” he said. “The impact of this institution on my life is great.” Kelley reminded graduates that they have each been impacted by Bethel as well. “We are called to be good stewards of this educational heritage,” he said. “This includes learning for a lifetime and gaining wisdom, having perseverance, and having enthusiasm about what the future holds.” Kelley shared a story about a woman who went to work humming and whistling. Her coworkers asked her the reason for her good mood. “I have never lived this day before,” she replied. “For the rest of your life, I hope you carry that kind of enthusiasm,” Kelley said to graduates. “Go ahead…step out, be too enthusiastic and be courageous to do things that will impact the world. “Remember,” he said, “amateurs built the ark, and professionals built the Titanic.”
- Traditional undergraduate students enrolled in Bethel University’s 2015-16 school year will see no increase in tuition, room or board from the current academic year according to President Walter Butler. The decision to keep tuition, room and board the same for another year came after the Bethel Board of Trustees voted unanimously at their November meeting for no increase. “The Board of Trustees felt that student costs for a higher education have been going up nationally at a very fast rate,” Butler said. “And they very much wanted to do what they could to make college as affordable as possible and to help keep student debt down.” Bethel University has long been one of Tennessee’s most affordable private 4-year institutions. Of the 31 private 4-year member institutions in the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) who offer undergraduate degrees, Bethel was bested by only six other schools with lower tuition. Tuition and fees for Bethel during 2014-15 was $15,714 which is well below the $22,683 average of TICUA member institutions. With room and board, the total to attend Bethel is $24,496. A story published in October 2013 in U.S. News and World Report stated that the price index for college tuition grew by nearly 80 percent between August 2003 and August 2013. That is nearly twice as fast as growth in costs in medical care, another area widely recognized for fast-rising prices. It’s also more than twice as fast as the overall consumer price index during that same period. The same article said that tuition growth is beginning to be slower than in recent years. However, tuition rates are still growing faster than household incomes. “Keeping our tuition the same for another year doesn’t mean the value of our educational product is any less,” Butler said. “Providing a quality product is always a priority. But for us, making that education affordable and ultimately accessible to students who might not have the opportunity -- that’s a big priority as well. This year, 83 percent of our students received some form of financial aid. With our institutional aid, we try to offer diverse options. We have scholarships for student athletes, for those interested in the arts, and for those who excel academically. We even have scholarships for those interested in community service.” Bethel, established in 1842, is affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and it offers bachelor’s, master’s and associate degrees through a variety of learning platforms.
- Bethel University basketball fans will have a rare opportunity on Monday, Nov. 24 when they have the chance to attend a reception and meet and greet honoring Bethel Hall of Famer Joe L. Reaves. Reaves is the only Bethel athlete to have ever been drafted to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was drafted in the third round of the 1973 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns. Reaves’ actual play time in seven NBA matchups makes him the most successful of athletes in history across all sports at Bethel. Reaves was inducted into Bethel’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. “We are very excited that Joe is coming to campus for a visit,” said President Walter Butler. “It gives us a chance to celebrate his accomplishments, and it gives our basketball fans a chance to hear about his experiences at a level that only an elite few ever attain. For me, it’s extra special. I can remember watching Joe play here at Bethel, and I followed him through his NBA play. He really is an athletic hero in my eyes. We’ve invited his former Bethel teammates, trainers and coaches, and his son, Shemon, who coaches girls’ basketball at Northside High School in Jackson is also coming.” The reception in Reaves’ honor will be held in the Student Activities Room in the Vera Low Center for Student Enrichment during the break between the men’s and women’s games, which will be in Crisp Arena. The Wildcats will be hosting Freed-Hardeman University, and Reaves will also be honored during halftime of the men’s game. The Lady Wildcats will tip off at 6 p.m., and the Wildcats will follow at 8 p.m. For more information about Reaves’ reception, contact Vicky Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 731-352-6405.
- Bethel’s Department of Music will present the traditional Lessons and Carols service on Nov. 25 at 11 a.m. and at 7 p.m. in Bouldin Auditorium in the Dickey Fine Arts Building. The service will feature the Bethel University Singers and Chamber Choir singing seasonal music, including one of the modern era’s most celebrated Christmas choral works -- Christmas Cantata by Daniel Pinkham. The Chamber Choir will sing Pange Lingua by György Orban , which is regarded as one of the most challenging modern works for mixed voices. Students, faculty, and administrators will read scripture that tell the Christmas story with readings from the Old and New Testaments. First presented at King’s College in Cambridge, England in 1918, the Lessons and Carols service has undergone minor revisions, but basically retains the same format, featuring the reading of 9 lessons (scripture readings), congregational singing, and choral anthems. This joyful service will set the mood for the season.
- Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014 will be a momentous occasion in the history of Bethel University from this day forward after the school inaugurated its 40th President, Dr. Walter Butler. “This truly is a huge day for Bethel,” said keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Perryn Rice, who serves as Senior Pastor at Lake Highland Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas. “Today’s inauguration is much like accidentally seeing a sunset for the first time. It’s awe inspiring.” Rice also compared the day to seeing comedian Eddie Murphy for the first time on Saturday Night Live. “You knew you were seeing something amazing – something special,” Rice said. “And as he continued on the show, he surprised us – even shocked us. “I met Walter Butler for the first time when I was on the board of trustees for Bethel several years ago,” he said. “Many others on the board told me what a benefit it was to Bethel to have someone like Walter here. It didn’t take long to see this for myself. “With the same certainty that I knew Eddie Murphy would be funny on Saturday Night Live, I am certain that Walter will do great things for Bethel. “That certainty is based on my faith – I am certain the Lord will continue to bless Walter and to use Walter for good things here at Bethel. “When the Lord is involved,” Rice said, “the end result is always newness; then there’s joy and passion and hope and excitement.” After the keynote address, Judge Ben Cantrell, chair of Bethel’s Board of Trustees, conducted the installation of Butler as 40th President of Bethel. Cantrell placed the Presidential Medal around Butler’s neck, and the Academic Mace was also presented to Butler. “I am so moved by the outpouring of support people have shown me these last few days leading up to this event,” President Butler said. “Your presence not only means so much to me but to Bethel University. “I will work hard and Bethel University will work hard every day to earn your respect and confidence,” he said. Butler thanked Board Chair Ben Cantrell and Bethel’s Board. “I want to publicly thank you,” he said to Cantrell. “You’ve always listened. You’ve always given sound advice – you’ve always taken my calls. “And the trustees – you’re guidance has made Bethel a leader in higher education.” Butler also thanked former President William Odom and President Emeritus Robert Prosser. “These men both share many things – one of those is that they both hired me,” Butler said. “The friendships of these two men is on the list of things I truly cherish.” Butler also thanked former Gov. Don Sundquist who could not attend the inauguration because of health issues. “Gov. Sundquist gave me an opportunity,” he said. “Everyone should have such an opportunity. Because of him I got to work with some of the smartest people in this state.” Butler also thanked Bethel’s faculty, staff and students. “Faculty, you’re the best. Period. No questions asked. Case closed,” he said. “You challenge our students to think and grow. You’re changing their lives. You’re changing family trees. “To our staff, this university could not operate without you. “And students,” he said. “It is all about you. It is totally about you. Please take advantage of this opportunity.” Butler also thanked his family – his mother, his sons, and his wife, Jennifer, who he said was the rock of their family. Butler talked about Bethel’s mission – to create opportunities to develop to a person’s highest potential intellectually, spiritually, socially and physically in a Christian environment. “That mission is why we are here today,” Butler said. “That mission makes it worthwhile to teach and work here. “I want you to know why I work here,” he said. “I mainly work here because I feel like the old man walking along the beach.” Butler shared the story of the man who would pick up a starfish and throw it back into the ocean one at a time. In the story, a little boy approaches the man and asks him what he is doing. The old man explains that he is throwing the starfish back into the ocean where they can survive. “Why would you do this?” the boy asked. “There are so many. “One at a time, you can’t possibly make a difference.” The old man muttered under his breath as he threw another starfish in to the ocean. “It made a difference to this one.” “We need to make a difference, “Butler said. “I wish you could have my seat at graduation. You would see a lot of starfish walking across that stage. “What’s next for Bethel? We try to serve our students, we try to serve our alumni. We serve, we serve, we serve and we imagine.” Butler officially became President this past June after serving as Interim President since August 2013.
- Tickets for Bethel University’s 3rd Annual Twinkle Ball, the ultimate Mommy & Me Christmas extravaganza, go on sale this week beginning Nov. 5. The Twinkle Ball will be on Wednesday, Dec. 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Vera Low Center for Student Enrichment on Bethel’s McKenzie campus. The Twinkle Ball gives young girls and their mothers (or someone who is motherly to them) the chance to dress up and celebrate the magic of the holiday season in the girliest ways imaginable. This year’s theme is “Twinkle has Frozen” with most activities centered around the “Frozen” movie theme. Some of the planned events include: “Frozen” manicures by the Edge Hair Salon; a make and take “Olaf” character, a make your own “Frozen” popcorn ball, silhouette portrait sittings, a bracelet making station, a Christmas ornament station, a photo booth station and photos made with some surprise guests. Tickets are $25 for a mother/daughter ticket. Mothers with more than one daughter can purchase additional tickets for $7 each. Tickets can be purchased at the Bethel University Bookstore. But they must be purchased in advance by Monday, Dec. 1. For more information about the Twinkle Ball, call the Bethel Bookstore at 731-352-4094 or Myra Carlock at 731-352-4090.
- Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014 will be a momentous occasion in the history of Bethel University as its Board of Trustees holds an inauguration ceremony for the school’s 40th president, Dr. Walter Butler. Butler officially became President this past June after serving as Interim President since August 2013. Butler, who holds both a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Bethel, was recently presented an honorary doctor of humane letters by the school’s trustees. Butler’s Bethel career actually began in 1975 when he began work as an admissions counselor – a position he held for three years until he ran for the Office of Carroll County Trustee and won. He served as Carroll County Trustee for 16 years, being re-elected in 1982, 1986, and 1990. In August of 1994, he ran successfully for the Office of Carroll County Executive (now Carroll County Mayor). Butler served in this capacity until 1996 when Governor Don Sundquist asked him to become Tennessee’s Director of State Parks. As Director of State Parks, Butler oversaw 54 parks, 1,600 employees and a budget of more than $57 million. Governor Sundquist went on to appoint Butler the Deputy Commissioner of Personnel and then as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Butler then served as Commissioner of Personnel, a position he held to the end of Governor Sundquist’s term in office. Butler later returned to Bethel as the Director of Business Affairs where he eventually held positions as Executive Vice President for the College of Liberal Arts and as Vice President for the College of Criminal Justice. University presidential inaugurations are steeped in age−old tradition, and they reflect the history and traditions of higher education which date back to the Middle Ages. An event distinguished by great ceremony‚ the presidential inauguration stands out as a celebratory milestone in a university’s life. Bethel University is one of the oldest universities in the state, and it holds dear its traditions, some of which date back to its founding in 1842. “We are extremely fortunate to have Walter Butler as President of this university,” said Judge Ben Cantrell, chair of Bethel’s Board of Trustees. “We could have made a nationwide search and still not found a candidate with his combination of knowledge, skill and dedication. He believes in this university, its mission and its people.” The inauguration ceremony will be held in Crisp Arena in the Vera Low Center for Student Enrichment. It will begin at 11 a.m., and the public is invited to attend. For more information, contact Myra Carlock at 731-352-4090 or at email@example.com.
- Bethel University’s Renaissance Program is excited to announce the 2014 schedule for “Christmas with Renaissance.” “Christmas with Renaissance” is an annual celebration that showcases the talents of the Renaissance Program at Bethel University. This “fun for the whole family” performance will boast a wide variety of genres of music all focused on the Christmas theme. The concert will feature all aspects of Renaissance including the Renaissance Choir, The Renaissance Quartet, Vocal Authority, Renaissance Theatre, The Renaissance Bluegrass Bands, The Renaissance Orchestra and The Renaissance Revolution. Also this year, the group will be joined by special guests “The Little Rebel Singers.” Performances are November 21, 22 and 23 at the Dickey Fine Arts Building on campus in McKenzie, Tenn. Shows begin at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with a 2 p.m. Matinee on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children (12 and younger). Tickets can be purchased at the Renaissance Office located at 28 Lee Ave. in McKenzie. The office will be open from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (731) 352-6980 for more information. Bethel Faculty, Staff and Students will receive free tickets. Please reserve those tickets in advance by emailing April Dodd, Renaissance Administrative Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be available for you at will call the night of the performance. Like in the past, the group anticipates sold out crowds for each performance.
- The Bethel University Renaissance Theatre program is pleased to announce the opening of their next musical theatre production, “Urinetown: The Musical.” This hilariously comedic and somewhat farcical musical tells the tale of an imaginary town that is quickly running out of its most precious natural resource: water. In an effort to conserve water, citizens are forced to pay to use public restrooms and there is growing discontent as a large corporation has seized control of all the public restrooms, charging high fees to the poor and downtrodden. One man decides to fight the tyranny of the corporate control and uncover the truth of why and how this town ended up in this condition. As the story unfolds, we see how desperate people are pushed to desperate measures when faced with horrible circumstances. While the title is extremely obscure and somewhat unsettling, audiences will appreciate the power of the story and how it tackles environmental, political, and social issues. The show asks some very challenging questions about society and how government or corporations attempt to ‘control’ the public. Director Brian Hill explained it this way. “This production takes a more light-hearted approach at tackling serious issues, but at the same time, we get the chance to look inside how people respond when their circumstances around them are dire. While I hope that there will never be a day when our communities don’t have access to water, we can also see that around the world there are still many people without access to clean drinking water, so maybe this issue is more current than we realize.” With that in mind, the Renaissance Theatre program has partnered with the organization Charity Water to raise money and awareness for impoverished communities around the globe that do not have clean drinking water. Lauren Lay, a junior, presented the idea to the directors and was excited to help spearhead the project. “Our goal for this project is to raise at least $1500 towards digging wells in Ethiopia. We are encouraging our audience, and other local community members to either donate online, or bring cash or spare change to the show and hopefully we will meet that goal!” You can find information about this project at www.my.charitywater.org/renaissance-theatres-urinetown. The show will open at the Bethel Performing Arts Center at 647 Stonewall on Saturday, November 1st at 7:00 pm with a matinee on Sunday the 2nd at 2:00 pm. It will also run on November 6-8 at 7:00 pm and 2:00 on November 9th. Bethel Faculty, Staff, and Students receive free admission. Tickets can be reserved by calling 731-352-6980 or by email@example.com .