Despite uncertainty, Bethany officially opens Academic Year

Bethany Lutheran College marked the official start of the 2020-21 Academic Year on Monday, August 24 with the traditional Opening Service held in Trinity Chapel. Due to restrictions on the size of public gatherings and social distancing recommendations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the service was limited to a very small gathering. The service was streamed live for the campus and others and is archived for viewing online.

Among those gathered were the service participants: Dr. Gene Pfeifer, President, Dr. Jason Lowrey, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Chaplain Donald Moldstad, Director of Campus Spiritual Life, and Ms. Karena Verbitzky, Student Senate President. New faculty members were also officially installed into their positions. Those new faculty members are:

  • Brittany Espinoza – Assistant Professor, Mathematics
  • Patrick Garvin – Men’s Head Basketball Coach
  • Erika Gunderson – Assistant Professor, Business Administration
  • Kenneth Johnson – Associate Professor, Business Administration
  • Christopher Merritt – Assistant Professor, Computer Science
  • Aaron Ollrich – Assistant Professor, Mathematics
  • Sheng Sang – Assistant Professor, Engineering
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Brittany Espinoza

Photo of Pat Garvin

Patrick Garvin

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Erika Gunderson

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Kenneth Johnson

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Christopher Merritt

Photo of Professor Aaron Ollrich

Aaron Ollrich

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Sheng Sang

Dr. Lowrey also introduced the recipients of Bethany’s Meyer and Ylvisaker Scholarships. These two scholarships are the most competitive at the College. The Ylvisaker recipients are:

  • Madeline Halvorson – Mankato, Minnesota
  • Maida Jaspersen – New Ulm, Minnesota
  • Tamara Omar – Bloomer, Wisconsin
  • Jenna Wahl – Holmen, Wisconsin

The Meyer Scholarship recipient is Tristen Lindell – Bloomington, Minnesota.

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Madeline Halvorson

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Maida Jaspersen

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Tamara Omar

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Jenna Wahl

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Tristen Lindell

Dr. Pfeifer’s opening message centered on the principle that Bethany’s mission, to educate students through personal mentoring with Christ as the focus, is driving the College’s efforts to be open amidst the restrictions the pandemic is causing.

Pfeifer remarked to the students in his address, “We pledge you our best, to work with you to make your experience in these challenging times the very best possible for you. Know at Bethany, a hallmark of our education is that we embrace you, we value you, we stand ready and willing to walk beside you, throughout your college journey. At Bethany we ground you in a foundation that’s solid, certain, and true. The foundation we provide is true because it’s not from ourselves, it’s the truth of God’s Word given to us in the Bible.”

Classes begin on Tuesday, August 25, with students learning both in person and virtually. A grant from the Schwan Foundation enabled the College to install state-of-the-art streaming and recording equipment in all of the campus classrooms. This technology gives Bethany the ability to livestream all classes at any time. Students from across the globe can learn synchronously (live streaming) or those that are more than eight time zones away from Mankato will have the opportunity to access their classes in a recorded format.

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