Presidential Legacy – The Rev. Albert J. Beutler, Ph.D. (1929- )
The Rev. Albert J. Beutler, Ph.D. (Michigan State University), was the first alumnus to serve as president of Bethel College. Beutler came to campus in 1947 with the inaugural freshman class and graduated in 1951 with a degree in Biblical Literature and Psychology. Immediately following graduation, he became dean of students and dean of men, then also the school’s first men’s basketball coach in 1958. In 1966, he became Bethel’s first Alumnus of the Year after leaving Bethel to become the dean of student services at Indiana University in South Bend. He would later return to Bethel to serve as the third president. Beutler is credited with constructing the Dining Commons and the Eastwood Apartments. In addition, he is responsible for eliminating operational debt, increasing assets by 60 percent, creating an associate’s degree with 11 concentration areas and a master’s degree in Christian education, as well as continuing Bethel’s good rapport with the broader community. His doctoral dissertation recounts the early years of the school: “The Founding and History of Bethel College of Indiana.” Beutler was twice named “Sagamore of the Wabash,” first by Indiana governor Otis R. Bowen in 1979 and then by governor Robert D. Orr in 1985; he later became an administrator at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan.