Bethany College makes a step toward removal of probation

LINDSBORG, Kan. (KSNW) — In the town of Lindsborg, Bethany College banners wave along Main Street and local businesses display signs that read “We love Bethany College.”

The community considers Bethany an important part of Lindsborg.

“There wouldn’t be Lindsborg without the college, and there wouldn’t be the college without Lindsborg,” said resident Genevieve Bishop.

For Bishop, Bethany holds a special place in her heart. She graduated from the college, met her late-husband there, and now, works at the school.

She said it’s a relief to see the school on the right track.

“We really feel that Bethany will retain its place in our community and will thrive,” she said.

Recent alumni were also sad to see the school placed on probation, like Carole Stuenkel. She graduated right before the probation was announced, but she says it helped bring the younger alumni community together.

“We all didn’t really realize what was going on behind the scenes until it was too late,” she said. “Then everybody definitely stepped up to help anyway they could.”

School officials said the college’s audit report for 2016 showed a positive balance of more than $77,000, compared to a negative balance of almost $6 million in 2015.

Bethany College president William Jones said business functions have greatly improved, and alumni and community donations have helped the school get through the first step in a long process.

The small liberal arts college was put on probation by the Higher Learning Commission in June 2015 — for concerns over operational processes, finances and assessment.

In April, the recommendation to remove the school from probation will be presented to the Higher Learning Commission. Then, they will make their final decision in late June.