Longtime Bethel Trustee Receives Honor

Nearly 250 people gathered to celebrate Bethel College and its history at the Founders Society Banquet, held Apr. 22 at Windsor Park in Mishawaka, Ind. Longtime Bethel College trustee, 80-year-old Charlie Habegger, received the honor of trustee emeritus. That means despite his retirement from the board of trustees, he is still invited to meetings to share his input without voting power.

President Steve Cramer, Ph.D., says Habegger deserves the honor because he exemplifies what a trustee should aspire to be. “He has committed his time, talents and treasures ... all that he could for the lives of Bethel students. He is a tremendous example and he loves Bethel College,” says Cramer.

Habegger became a member of the Bethel College board of trustees in 1987. He remembers John Tuckey, one of Bethel’s founding fathers, telling him the college could benefit from someone with a background in the building trade. At the time Habegger and his brother owned a building supply and construction business, Habegger’s Ace Lumber and Building Supply in Berne, Ind.

“When [Habegger] came to the board he brought a practical understanding of the business side as the college grew in the ’90s,” says Cramer. “[He also] had a passion for the mission of the college, and had the desire to see it fulfilled.”

Nearly three decades ago when Habegger became a trustee, he remembers a student population of 425. Now there are nearly five times that many students. He believes the school will continue to grow as long as one element remains the same.

“I am real excited about the future of Bethel College. Bethel needs to keep Christ at the helm. To me there is no other way for the college to operate. The college has kept Christ at the helm and that has been crucial,” says Habegger.

Habegger is the eighth trustee to receive this honor.

Bethel College is an accredited Christian college offering associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in more than 70 areas of study. The current enrollment of more than 2,100 includes students from 34 states and Puerto Rico, 19 countries, more than 25 denominations and 16 percent from culturally diverse backgrounds. Scholarships are available based upon a variety of factors including academic achievement, talent in the arts or athletics, ethnicity and church affiliation. In addition to its beautifully wooded 75-acre main campus in Mishawaka, Ind., Bethel also offers specific academic programs at sites in Elkhart, Ind., Fort Wayne, Ind., Dowagiac, Mich., and St. Joseph, Mich. Nursing programs are also offered in cooperation with Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind.