Bethel College and Kelly Cares Foundation Dedicate Paqui and Brian Kelly Auditorium

Bethel College and the Kelly Cares Foundation will dedicate the Paqui and Brian Kelly Auditorium Thursday, June 21 at 1 p.m., at Bethel College, with a reception to follow. Renovations to the auditorium, Bethel’s largest lecture hall, were made possible by a gift from the Kelly Cares Foundation.

This renovated space, located next to Bethel’s School of Nursing in the Middleton Hall of Science, celebrates Paqui and Brian Kelly's commitment to strengthening communities and inspiring hope by investing resources to improve health and education through the Kelly Cares Foundation. "Education and healthcare are issues that are very important to us personally and are critical pillars of our mission at the Kelly Cares Foundation. Being able to support the new nursing school [facility] at Bethel College is the perfect alignment of interests and we are very pleased to have this opportunity. The Bethel nursing program is a great community asset. And this wonderful new facility will serve the next generation of healthcare providers well."

Formerly referred to as the Octorium due to its octagonal shape, the remodeled space (originally built in 1963) is now ADA compliant and features new seating, lighting, paint, a remodeled stage, new flooring and a larger backstage and storage area, made possible by removal of the ceiling and south wall. It will be used primarily as a classroom space, specifically for large nursing and science lectures, and secondarily for theatre and music productions. The space will also serve as an overflow for Bethel’s chapel and vespers services. 

Bethel President Gregg Chenoweth, Ph.D., says, “For anyone who associates the Kellys only with Notre Dame football, this significant gift shows they win off the field, too. The renewed space isn’t just their ‘wallet work.’ It’s their worldview. We should all take their example. Tens of thousands of lives will be impacted by Bethel alumni who are trained from this space!” 

The Kelly’s investment will continue to advance the success of Bethel’s science programs, which boast a cadaver lab – unusual for a school a Bethel’s size – and a medical school acceptance rate that is double the national average. The auditorium will also serve students in Bethel’s top 10 nationally ranked School of Nursing, which opened its new $1.15 million nursing simulation lab in the fall. Bethel alumni go on to serve in a variety of health care careers locally and internationally, and include success stories such as Dr. David Smith, who holds two patents on growing heart cells and is in the top one percent of pediatric surgery specialists.

About the Kelly Cares Foundation

Paqui and Brian Kelly founded the Kelly Cares Foundation in 2008, not long before Paqui was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time. Although she has been cancer free since, that life-changing experience has inspired the couple’s passionate support of important educational, health care and community initiatives through their family foundation. As of June 2018, the Kelly Cares Foundation has contributed over $4 million to organizations globally.

Brian is the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame, a position he has held since December 2009. Kelly was previously head coach at the University of Cincinnati (2006-2009), Central Michigan University (2004 – 2006) and Grand Valley State University (1991–2003) where his teams won national division II titles in 2002 and 2003.

Paqui holds bachelors and master’s degrees in education from the University of Michigan and Grand Valley State University respectively and spent 15 years as a teacher and administrator. She has leveraged these and her personal life experiences as a motivational speaker and early detection advocate at major events across the country. She was named the YWCA’s 2016 Woman of the Year and the 2017 Woman of Hope by Hannah’s House, along with other honors she and Brian have received.