A quick guide to decision making in the Bethel community.
By Soraya Keiser and Molly Wilson
Professor Amy Dykstra calls the CAS Faculty Senate meeting to order at 4:10 p.m. Nov. 18 over a zoom call with 17 other faculty members. Students may know her as their biology professor, but many don’t know that she is also the president of the CAS Faculty Senate. Working behind the scenes at Bethel is a myriad of different committees, departments and boards. Whether an issue regards faith formation, new class offerings or how to operate a university during a pandemic, students and faculty alike collaborate to make sure that Bethel runs smoothly.
Bethel Student Government
Students have a big say in what goes on at Bethel, and this is done through the Bethel Student Government. BSG comprises seven departments and more than 100 members of the student body. Focused on growing the student community and faith, BSG executive staff take turns sharing devotionals during their meetings.
“I believe that our faith is the true reason we do what we do,” said Student Body President Elizabeth Szilagyi. “Our desire to bring others together, to initiate important conversations, and to bring joy to one another during this season is from our desire to love others well, which comes from God.”
Office of the President
This office consists of Elizabeth Szilagyi, a senior communications major, as the President of Bethel Student Government and David Jankowski, a senior nursing major, as vice president.
As president, Szilagyi oversees the executive team and makes sure they are well supported and equipped to do their specific jobs. The Office of the President also represents the student body to other leadership teams on campus, such as the Faculty Senate. Both Szilagyi and Jankowski attend Faculty Senate and Health and Safety Committee meetings to stay informed because COVID-19 has forced BSG to think creatively about how to engage students better and provide their services. Jankowski also oversees daily operations for BSG and helps executive directors make their events happen. Mondays are considered “BSG night” where executive staff have their office hours and most meetings take place.
Clubs and Organizations
Blake Birno is the Executive Director of Clubs and Organizations.
Birno oversees everything having to do with BSG sponsored clubs and organizations at Bethel. This means helping students create clubs, get funding and make decisions. Birno is also working on new regulations for clubs so that they can still function through the pandemic.
Benjamin Hernes is the Executive Director of Finance and holds the only position in the department.
Hernes works closely with the six executive directors of BSG to allocate the approximately $330,000 budget to each department, keep them on track with their budget and approve Club & Organization’s budgets and expense reports. COVID-19 affected the budgeting process early in the academic year when funds were being allocated since many events could not happen or were changed.
Communications and Marketing
The Executive Director of Communications and Marketing is Kaylee Schmidt. Other staff include Katie Viesselman and Grace Schmidt as graphic designers, Ben Martin, the specialty media director, and Liz McBride who serves as the social media director.
As Executive Director, Schmidt works with her team to make advertisements for events. The department also works with other branches of BSG to promote events on campus through flyers, videos and social media.
As Executive Director, Jenna Christensen is in charge of SA’s five committees and their directors. These directors are Tavniah Dyer (Special Productions committee), Marissa Cutlan (Seasonal committee), Dani Olson (Artistic committee), Emily Olson (Legacy committee) and Kjeirstin Carlson (Banquets and Dances committee).
Student Activities plans events throughout the year that give students a chance to have fun and meet new people. These events range from a Christmas village to the Amazing Race across campus to documentary nights. This year, COVID-19 restrictions have made it difficult for events to run as they have in the past, yet this has allowed for Christensen and the other directors to collaborate and be more creative in keeping the student body connected.
United Cultures of Bethel
Alice Hong serves as the Executive director of UCB. There are six subgroups and their respective directors that make up UCB and Hong oversees them all. The directors are Jireh Babalola (Black Student Union), Ashley Embree (European Americans in Solidarity), Bridger Foster (First Nations), Elijah Rollerson (Mixed Life), Dy Say Der (Asian Student Alliance) and Nancy Alquicira (Voz Latinx).
UCB aims to cultivate a community where students feel safe to share their experiences related to their culture. This is done through subgroup meetings and schoolwide events. According to Hong, they help foster students’ cross-cultural understanding of other cultures and plan events where students can engage in challenging and productive dialogues. Cultural identity is entwined with spiritual identity at Bethel, and the UCB team emphasizes the idea that diversity under the one body of Christ is beautiful and important.
Sam Nguyen is the Executive Director, and McKayla Schneck serves as the President Pro Tempore. Schneck works closely with Ngyuen, making sure the Senate runs smoothly and acts as a lead senator. Six senators from each class who are elected by the student body make up the rest of the Senate.
The Student Senate focuses mainly on writing bills and resolutions to the BSG constitution. “Bills are written to use the funds in our budget in many ways such as assisting groups at Bethel that need funding for events, ensure places such as the Bethel Ice Rink is well kept, and add additions to Bethel’s campus such as the new Valentine Patio and the fireplace,” Nguyen said. “Resolutions are everything else that does not include funds such as approving clubs, updating the constitution and formally having a written document about the needs and concerns of the Student Body.”
Paige Revering is the Executive Director of Student Ministries and works with Maddie Sime, Director of Events, and Andrew Marod, Director of Outreach, meaning he helps students get connected with each other to create meaningful relationships.
This department puts on events that point the student body towards Christ. They reach out to others on campus to minister to them and work closely with the Christian Formation and Church Relations team.
Although a central part of making sure Bethel runs smoothly, students do not have full control over all the happenings at Bethel. The Faculty Senate, Board of Trustees and President’s Cabinet all make important decisions regarding the student body and institution as a whole.
CAS Faculty Senate
Seventeen senators serve three-year terms in the Senate. They are elected by other faculty members and represent the full CAS faculty.
The Senate shares governance over the faculty with the administration. A big part of the Senate’s role is to make decisions about academic programs. One big issue this year is reviewing and revising the faculty committees because the number of full-time faculty will be decreasing over the next few years. Senate members have recently been discussing the creation of a new class of faculty: Clinical Faculty. Clinical Faculty would not be required to research to achieve tenure, instead, they would actively engage in clinical practice outside of Bethel. For example, a nurse would work in a clinic or hospital. The Senate meets twice a month, virtually due to COVID-19. These meetings are open to full-time and part-time faculty members, administrators and staff involved in the educational activities of the university and others who are invited by the Chair.
Board of Trustees
Thirty-three experienced professionals who have a strong Christian faith and deep commitment to the values of the university. President Ross Allen is part of the executive committee.
The Board of Trustees supervises the work of university leadership, provides guidance and is responsible for maintaining the institution’s academic and spiritual quality and tradition. These meetings take place three times per year.
The President’s Cabinet includes the senior leaders of the university who represent education, operations, outreach, future orientation, and governance, with President Allen as the head.
The Cabinet meets weekly to discuss tactical topics and monthly for strategic conversations. Currently, weekly topics often include COVID-19, presidential commissions and finance. The monthly conversations center on university priorities and future planning. The Cabinet provides the strategic direction for the university and empowers the organization to carry out the day-to-day implementation of those plans.
Check out these events happening before the end of the semester!
- Cookies & Creation, December 10, 8-10 p.m. in Benson Great Hall (put on by Student Ministries)
- Christmas Village: December 12, 7-10 p.m. in the Brushaber Commons (put on by Student Activities)
How can you get involved?
- Join a UCB subgroup email list and go to meetings
- Attend events run by all departments
- Email the student body president with concerns that you have
- Apply to be a part of SA in the spring