Celebrating Bethel’s 70th Year: the 1970s
Majors Offered: Elementary Education, Arts and Crafts Education, Biology Education, Business Education, English Education, Science Education, Mathematics Education, Music Education, Physical Education, Social Studies Education, U.S. History Education, World History Education, Psychology, Art, Music, Communication, English, Liberal Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Mathematics, Medical Technology, Biblical Literature, Accounting, Business Administration, History, Social Science, Sociology
Sports: Men’s Soccer, Men’s Tennis, Women’s Volleyball, Women’s Basketball, Men’s Basketball, Baseball, Men’s Golf, Cheerleading
Theatre Productions: Gianni Schicchi (operetta, theatre and music departments together), Spring Musical: Plain and Fancy
Building Added: Dining Commons
Although Associate Professor of English Maralee Crandon, Ph.D., did not graduate from Bethel College, she did earn the title of Honorary Alumna of the Year in 2016. She arrived on campus in 1977 — the day before her 30th birthday. She laughs at the memory:
“I had a goal to become a college professor by the time I was 30, and I just made it!”
Having previously taught in high schools in her native Northeast, Crandon was incredibly anxious about the new position in a new environment. Although she is now a professor of English, she was originally hired in as a communications professor, a role she held faithfully for years, overseeing yearbook production and the still-published student newspaper, Bethel Beacon.
Despite her original involvement with the communications major, it was the English literature resources that convinced her to take the position at Bethel, foreshadowing her future role as an Associate Professor of English.
“I knew I eventually wanted to teach English … I was so impressed with the Shakespeare collection, I thought ‘I can teach here!”
Crandon remembers her first thorough tour of campus on that very first day, given by the then Academic Dean Wayne Gerber.
“It was very wooded, the east end was wild; it has become much more domesticated … Everything was just so small. It seems so expansive [now], in contrast [with] the tiny provincial place [it was],” she says.
Although immeasurable progress had been made since the college’s opening 30 years prior, the campus was still in a very developmental stage in 1977. The Dining Commons had just opened, and the building was about half the size of what it is today. The Helm at the entrance of campus was a popular student hang-out spot, and The Acorn—which was then on the lower level of Shupe Hall—was the hub of student life. However, the enduring anticipation for continued growth was still markedly present.
The investment in the college’s future had carried from decades past to the students of 1977. From Crandon’s perspective, the students knew they were building the college, not merely attending it. It was a matter of importance to students that the college, in all that it stood for as a Christian institution, became successful, persevering through obstacles in those early days. There was a deep love, and it was a time of great pride for Bethel’s potential.
This was evident in the dedication of the faculty and staff of the year as they sought to serve their students well, with Christ at the helm:
“The real sense, both spiritually and socially, was that we were called to this college to do a work that was building the kingdom of God. This [was] something Christ called us to, something much greater than ourselves … that was the kind of shared community — communion, really — we were in this together.”
In her 40 years as a faculty member, Crandon has observed a trait that prevails among Bethel College students: care for one another. It contributed to her “falling in love with the college,” and has been elemental in her decision to continue at Bethel.
“That’s what I want to remember to be typical of Bethel students: very open and kind. These students love one another, they really care about what happens to each other.”
And to the students she admires so greatly, past and present, she wishes to emphasize the application of her life verse: Philippians 1:6.
” ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ’ — that should cover every area — academic, social — everything.”