The following was written by Bethel’s student body president, Zoe Vermeer. The views in it are Vermeer’s only, and do not necessarily align with those of The Clarion.
Zoe Vermeer | Bethel Student Government
I get the impression that to the Student Body, the Board of Trustees seems like this large, mysterious body — a group of people who no one really understands. We, as students, sense that they are significant, but we are not really sure why. I asked a few individuals what they knew about the Board of Trustees and here were a few of the responses: “I know they meet,” “not much,” and “it’s a group of people with a lot of money.”
On Wednesday, October 28, I was given the opportunity to sit in on the Board of Trustees meeting. As I sat and observed throughout the day, I was constantly amazed by the generosity of our board. These are people who are overwhelmingly generous with their time, their wisdom, and their wealth. Bethel University’s Board of Trustees is a diverse group of individuals comprised of business leaders, lawyers, and church and parachurch leaders. One member, Julie White is a former executive at Wells Fargo and currently the president of Tapestry Solutions. She has also played a huge role in getting the BUILD program started. Another member, Rollie Anderson is the president of Anderson Trucking Services and selflessly gave the financial means of making the purchasing of the Anderson Center possible. Another member, Rev. T. Cher Moua is the Director of Union Gospel Mission Asian Ministries. And yet another, Tim Traudt is the Executive Vice President and Senior Managing Director of Wells Fargo Wealth Management. This is only a handful of the amount of experience and leadership that can be found on our very own Board of Trustees.
Logistically, we currently have 37 Trustees, a number that is relatively high compared to other universities. Their job is to understand the inner workings of our university, provide accountability for our president and executive leaders, and strategically help Bethel to live fully into its mission. They meet three times annually to gain insight into the happenings at Bethel and they vote on important matters such as Campus Master Plan and statements regarding Bethel’s stance on various social issues. The board provides support, strategic direction, and marketplace networks for Bethel University. They also seek to sustain and enhance Bethel’s reputation, to increase enrollment, and to preserve Bethel’s core values. They continue to find ways to maintain Bethel’s heritage, mission, and values as we as a university move forward. Furthermore, President Jay Barnes is directly accountable to the board. Many of the board members are alumni of Bethel, some are parents of current students or past students, and others are pastors of churches with the Converge network. Regardless of their connection, I was blown away by the commitment and passion these individuals have for this university and the people within it.
Every meeting begins with a devotional and prayer. In this instance, Laurel Bunker gave a devotional on recognizing the powerful restoring impacts of the grace of God. After the devotional, I prayed alongside a few board members for this university, our students and faculty, and for the favor of the Lord upon this place and these people. What came next? You wouldn’t believe me if I told you! The prayer was ended by the room singing the old hymn “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” What a beautiful and powerful way to begin a long day of meetings. This is just one example of the undoubted Christ-centeredness of how our Board of Trustees operates.
Throughout the day, the board provided guidance on strategic initiatives, heard reports from the president and various members of his cabinet, including Provost Debra Harless and Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning Joe LaLuzerne, and met in various committees that seek to maintain the institution’s academic and spiritual quality. I sat in on the Co-curricular Programs Committee which is responsible for the oversight of student development and spiritual formation policies and initiatives at the university. Taji Onesirosan, this year’s Student Body Vice President, sat in on the Academic Programs Committee, which is responsible for the oversight of program development and initiatives, review of key performance indicators of outcome measures of the academic program, oversight of university structure, and matters related to personnel for these programs.
I left the long day of meetings feeling overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for these individuals and all they contribute to this university. I was overwhelmed by their generosity, their leadership within their perspective fields, and their love for the Lord.
Here is what I offer to you: pray for these individuals. Pray for them as they lead in their own mission fields, whether that be in business, law or as a pastor; and pray as they lead this university.