Bethel to Celebrate 57th Commencement

Bethel College, Mishawaka, IN will hold its 57th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 2, 2004 at 2:30 P.M. in the Wiekamp Athletic Center on the Bethel College campus. A total of 417 degrees will be awarded to 397 recipients, including masters, bachelors and associate degrees. The ceremony will also honor Dr. Norman Bridges, who will preside over his 15th and final commencement as Bethel College President before officially retiring June 30, 2004.

Delivering the commencement address will be Dr. Richard Earl Felix, President Emeritus of Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA, with Howard Brenneman, President and CEO of Mennonite Mutual Aid, Inc. delivering the invocation. Both men will be awarded the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for their outstanding service to the college and local community. Admission is by ticket only but closed-circuit viewing of the ceremony will be provided in room 101 of the Wiekamp Athletic Center.

Commencement speaker Richard Earl Felix graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration in 1974. He went on to earn  Post-Doctoral Certificate from the Harvard University Business School. From 1967 to 1971, Felix was athletic director and head basketball coach at Bethel College. From 1971 to 1974, he served as assistant to Bethel's president.

Among his many accomplishments, Felix served as Vice President and Director of Graduate Studies at Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville, TN and Associate Vice President at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He began an 11-year tenure as President of Friends University in Wichita, KS in 1979. In 1990 he was called to Azusa Pacific University as its 15th president.

In 2000, Bethel College (IN) awarded Felix with its Lifetime of Achievement Award. Other awards to his credit include an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea and the Mayor's Key to the City of Wichita, KS in 1990. In February, 2004, Felix was cited for his many accomplishments by Time Magazine. His late wife, Vivian Stray Felix, had served as a Bethel College Trustee.

Howard L. Brenneman is President and Chief Executive Officer of Mennonite Mutual Aid (MMA), Inc., Goshen, IN. MMA provides insurance and financial services and assistance to pastors, churches and individuals nationwide. Brenneman graduated from Bethel College in Newton, KS, the American Management School and the Corporate Planning School. He started working in 1958 for the Hesston Corporation and became president of the manufacturing company in 1974. Eight years later he was named CEO of the corporation and in 1992, became president of Mennonite Mutual Aid.

Active in the local community, Brenneman serves on the Board of Directors for Dutchman Hospitality, Goshen Health Systems, Oaklawn Psychiatric Center and the Troyer Group. He is the chairman of the Board of Directors for MMA Community Development Investments, MMA Praxis Mutual Funds, and the MMA Trust Company. He also has served on the advisory board at Bethel College (IN). Brenneman and his wife Sharon reside in Goshen, IN.

Editor's Note: For more information about Bethel's 57th Commencement exercises, for photographs of our honorary degree recipients, or to make special arrangements to cover this event, please contact the Office of Public Relations at (574)257-3331 or E-mail: