Presidential Legacy – The Rev. James A. Bennett, Ph.D. (1937- )
James Allen Bennett, Ph.D. (Walden University), was Bethel’s fourth president, serving the school faithfully for six years during a particularly challenging era. A 1961 graduate of Bethel with a degree in Theology, Bennett was a member of Bethel’s board of directors from 1975 to 1980, serving as chair the last two. Then he was hired as Bethel’s director of institutional advancement in 1980. As president, Bennett brought a number of changes to Bethel’s campus, and the Otis and Elizabeth Bowen Library was built under his leadership, the first building in what became a distinctive new architectural style. He also enlarged the scope of the academic programs to meet the changing needs of the church and community, initiating a nursing, the Master of Ministries, and the Adult College programs for returning students. In 1986, the baseball team won the NCCAA I tournament, the first in a flood of national titles for Bethel College sports teams. After leaving the presidency, Bennett re-entered the pastoral ministry and helped further develop Prairie Camp.