The 2023 Bethany Lutheran College (BLC) spring semester commencement ceremony will be held on Friday, May 12, at 10:30 a.m. in Bethany’s Sports and Fitness Center. Ninety-five graduates will receive their bachelor of arts, bachelor of science in nursing degrees, or master of arts in clinical mental health counseling.
Dr. Joshua Mears is the commencement speaker. Mears attended Bethany and graduated in 2005 with a degree in psychology and a minor in religious studies. He was the first student from Bethany to receive the bachelor of arts degree in psychology. Mears went on to earn a master’s in Christian counseling from Bethel University and a clinical doctorate from the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology. He currently serves as the owner and clinical director of a faith-informed mental health private practice clinic in Lakeville, Minnesota. Mears has served Bethany Lutheran College as an adjunct faculty member both for the Bethany Seminary and for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. He has also served as a member of the Board of Regents at Bethany since 2017.
During the commencement ceremony, President Emeritus Dan Bruss will receive the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award. Bruss served as the ninth president of Bethany and is a 1973 alumnus of BLC. He earned degrees from Bethany, Augsburg College (Minneapolis), Minnesota State University, Mankato, and his doctorate of philosophy in chemistry from Montana State University. He began his academic career as an instructor at Bethany from 1975-1981. Bruss also taught for twelve years at Central College (Pella, Iowa). During this time, he was twice the recipient of the Central College “Outstanding Performance Award for Institutional Service” and was also recognized with the “Huffman Award for Outstanding Support of International Education.” Bruss was also an assistant professor of chemistry at Albany College of Pharmacy (Albany, New York) from 1985-1990, where he earned the “Distinguished Teacher of the Year” award in 1989. He successfully combined a teaching career with research and was involved in many research projects. He has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed academic journals.
Bruss served as President of Bethany from January 2002 and served until June 2015. He started as President when Bethany was very new to the bachelor’s degree-granting world of higher education, with only eight majors, and is credited for leading the College to be a full four-year institution. While President, he served on the Greater Mankato Growth Board of Directors and the Minnesota Private College Council, where he was the Chair from 2013-2015.
Joining Mears and Bruss on the commencement stage will be Dr. Gene Pfeifer, President of Bethany Lutheran College, Dr. Jason Lowrey Vice President of Academic Affairs, Rev. Donald Moldstad, College Chaplain, and Rev. Herbert Huhnerkoch, Chair of the Bethany Lutheran College Board of Regents.