Bethel President Announces Retirement

President Steven R. Cramer, Ph.D., announced to the Bethel College board of trustees that he will retire as president of Bethel College on June 30, 2013. In his communication to the board, Cramer indicated that he wanted to give sufficient time to facilitate the search process for the next president.

Board of Trustees Chair Brian Hamil said, "Bethel's board of trustees is grateful to Steve Cramer for his wise leadership, spiritual fervor and exemplary character through these past many years. Both Steve and his wife, Terri, have selflessly given of their time, energy and gifts to invest in the Bethel family. Students, faculty and staff have deeply appreciated their contribution in helping Bethel College become the tremendous institution it is today. Because Dr. Cramer's current contract will not expire until June 30, 2014, the timing of his resignation will provide us a comfortable one-year transition where Dr. Cramer can provide the new president with good insight, wise counsel and helpful support."

Cramer, who is beginning his ninth year as president of the private Christian college, stated, “During the last year it became apparent to me that the time was right for the college to begin planning for a presidential transition. I recognize that to continue to forge ahead with a vision for Bethel College in the future would require an additional five- to eight-year obligation that I am not able to commit to at this point. However, I believe the school is in a great position to make this transition. We have made excellent progress in decreasing debt and increasing our savings, enrollment is solid and we continue to improve our infrastructure.”

Cramer has played a significant role in the development of the college over the last three decades, first as vice president for advancement and now the last eight+ years as president. During his presidency, enrollment continued its climb to a record 2,163 students. Bethel College has continued to rise in its ranking of the Midwest’s Best Baccalaureate Colleges as reported by U.S. News & World Report. Under Cramer's leadership, Bethel's study abroad offerings were expanded, several academic programs received individual accreditation, and the campus became more intentional in its multi-ethnic programming and outreach. Also during Dr. Cramer’s presidency, the college has moved forward with multiple building projects, as well as the implementation of a new campus master site plan.

However, according to Cramer, his main goal has been to seek to provide an environment where “Bethel students are so well prepared academically, so vibrant spiritually and so possessed of a servant’s heart that they are able to help change their world … wherever God leads them." 

Bethel College is the denominational college for the Missionary Church and was established in Mishawaka, Ind., in 1947.

Further supplementary information                      

Steven R. Cramer, Ph.D. (Indiana State University), was inaugurated as Bethel's sixth president in 2004. A 1975 Bethel graduate in music and its 2002 Alumnus of the Year, he worked for Bethel in admissions from 1973-1975 and in church relations from 1982-1985. He returned once more in 1987 as Bethel's vice president for institutional advancement. In that role he designed and implemented campaigns totally more than $50 million, helping to fund Bethel's development from 1992-2004.

In addition, during Cramer’s presidency, the college's building projects have included: the Pannabecker Math and Science Laboratories, a new western campus face, a new western entrance and renovated Helm fountain, the Lodge Residence Hall, a renovated Dining Commons and an enlarged college bookstore/ coffeeshop. There was also the implementation of a new campus master site plan with the campus borders expanded through the purchase of an additional 13 acres just south of the campus. 

There were also several "firsts" during Cramer's presidency including: the appointment of the first two women to cabinet positions; the launch of online degree programs; the visit by a sitting U.S. president, the hosting of a nationally televised theological debate and the hosting of a national athletic competition televised on ESPN. The college has also become a destination for outside conferences and community events.

During recent years, Cramer has helped the college navigate through the most difficult financial environment in generations and has helped secure additional financial strength for Bethel’s long-term future.  Says Cramer, "Bethel means 'house of God' and we have endeavored to make sure the college has continued to be true to its name."

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.