Few members of the Bethel College campus community need an introduction to the 2014 commencement speaker.
Dale R. Schrag, campus pastor and director of church relations, will retire at the end of the school year, wrapping up 30 years in which he served as director of libraries (1984-92) and director of marketing and church relations (1992-97) in addition to his current assignments.
And that’s not even counting the four years he spent as at Bethel as a student, 1965-69, where he completed a B.A. in history with education licensure.
He will speak to the 2014 graduates during commencement ceremonies May 18 in Thresher Stadium (alternate location in case of inclement weather is Memorial Hall). He has titled his address “Always be a Thresher.”
After spending two years working for a community organization in Arvada, Colorado, under the auspices of Mennonite Voluntary Service, Schrag earned a master’s degree in library science at Indiana University, Bloomington.
He was an instructor and assistant professor, and held several different library positions, at Wichita State University, 1975-84. He completed an M.A. in history at WSU in 1984.
As a scholar of history, Schrag’s primary topic is the Dutch Renaissance theologian Erasmus, about whom Schrag has written frequently. He is the co-author, with Erika Rummel, of “The Erasmus Collection in the Herzog August Bibliotek” (2004).
Several generations of Bethel students know Schrag as the director of the convocation series and for giving speakers carefully researched, thoughtful introductions. Others will remember fondly his presence on countless Concert Choir spring break tours and the detailed poems he would write recapping each tour.
Schrag served the General Conference Mennonite Church for a number of years as the staff person for its Higher Education Council.
He is also widely known in Mennonite circles for his presentations on church and Anabaptist history, often appearing in character as one of the early Anabaptist leaders such as Pilgram Marpeck, Michael Sattler or Menno Simons. The 2014 Bethel graduation ceremonies begin with the baccalaureate service May 18 at 10 a.m. in Bethel College Mennonite Church. The formal commencement starts just before 4 p.m. with the traditional Walk around the Green. Both baccalaureate and commencement are open to the public. Baccalaureate opening music features members of the Class of 2014. Other service music is by the Bethel College Concert Choir (with conductors, seniors Evan Koch, Renee Reimer and Aaron Tschetter) and by Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, professor of music, on organ.
This year’s baccalaureate theme comes from a saying attributed to Thomas Aquinas – and, at Bethel, the convocation motto, closely linked to Dale Schrag – “Seldom affirm, never deny, always distinguish.”
Three graduating seniors will offer meditations: Martin Olson, Denver, Colorado; Katie Regier, Whitewater; and Daniel Barrera, Newton, along with his mother, Rosa Barrera, assistant to the president.
The service will conclude with the traditional blessing for and candlelighting by seniors.
The baccalaureate planning committee is seniors Guadalupe Gonzalez, Wesley Goodrich, Megan Leary, Jared Regier, Renee Reimer and Ariel Silva, Bethel College Mennonite Church pastor Heidi Regier Kreider and three members of the Bethel faculty and administration.
The commencement program begins at 4 p.m. with music by the Epic Brass Quintet.
Jaime Lázaro, pastor of Iglesia El Centro in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and father of graduating senior Caleb Lázaro, will give the invocation. Graduating senior Kevin Coash, El Dorado, will offer the benediction.
Other Commencement Weekend events open to the public are the Senior Art Exhibit, including a reception in the Fine Arts Center Gallery area from 7-9 p.m. May 16, and the nurses’ pinning ceremony, May 17 at 2 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium.
The FAC Gallery, Bethel College Bookstore and Mojo’s Coffee in Schultz Student Center will be open extra hours during the weekend (gallery 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday; bookstore 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, 12-2 p.m. Sunday; Mojo’s 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday). Kauffman Museum invites everyone to the current special exhibit, “What’s old is new,” Saturday and Sunday, 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Alumni Weekend activities are not being held in conjunction with commencement this year. Instead, there are several special events just for graduating seniors and their families.
The Student Alumni Association will host a senior party and dinner, which includes presentation of a gift to all seniors, in the Will Academic Center atrium May 16. The Senior Art Exhibit reception follows in the Fine Arts Center at 7 p.m.
President Perry D. White and Dalene White are hosting seniors and their families for lunch on the Goerz House lawn May 17. And May 18, before the commencement ceremonies, the tradition of taking a senior class photo on the Administration Building steps will be revived, weather permitting.
Alumni Weekend will be June 6-8 on campus. Contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 316-284-5251 or see a complete Alumni Weekend schedule online at www.bethelks.edu/alumni/events-for-alumni-and-friends/alumni-weekend/.