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Presidential Search

The Bethel University Board of Trustees announces the search for the next President of Bethel University. Building on the success of Dr. Walter Butler, who plans to retire from his role as President of Bethel University on December 31, 2023, the Board seeks an experienced Christian leader who will lead Bethel into the future.

Autumn Science Bldg

About Bethel University

Bethel University was founded in 1842 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Today, it serves as the denomination’s only university, and its rich heritage of training preachers and teachers has grown to also include numerous programs in the liberal arts, business, criminal justice, and healthcare. Located in rural McKenzie, Tennessee, Bethel is one of the largest employers in Carroll County and serves as a hub for performing arts, athletics, and education for the surrounding communities. Bethel University continues its close relationship with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church through a Covenant Agreement that is reviewed and renewed every five years at the General Assembly of the denomination.

The mission of Bethel University is to offer an accessible education, whether in person or through technology mediated methods, to the diverse learning community. The mission encompasses the goal of offering the opportunity to each individual to develop to the highest potential intellectually, spiritually, and socially in an environment that fosters Christian ideals of reverent spirituality with respect and inclusion of all members of the community.

Bethel University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, bachelor, and master's degrees. The University was recently named one of the top colleges in America by Money Magazine and has enjoyed more than ten consecutive years of balanced budgets.

Students from 45 states and 25 countries call Bethel home. At Bethel they enjoy a 15:1 student faculty ratio and can participate in 26 sports teams, more than 15 student organizations, and our celebrated global studies programs while earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in one of 33 majors.

About the Role

The President shall be the University’s chief executive officer and the chief advisor to and executive agent of the Board of Trustees. The President is responsible for overseeing operations, both academic and administrative, within the institution.

Principle accountabilities and responsibilities:

  • Leading the University, implementing all Board policies, keeping the Board informed on appropriate matters, consulting with the Board in a timely manner on matters appropriate to its policy-making and fiduciary functions, and serving as the University’s key spokesperson.
  • Appointing, in consultation with the Board of Trustees, one or more vice presidents and deans.
  • Recommending the appointment of the Treasurer of the Board of Trustees.
  • Being the official link between the faculty and staff and the Board of Trustees and between the students and the Board of Trustees.
  • Appointing other administrators, faculty, and other personnel, fixing their terms of employment, and prescribing their duties.
  • Presenting an annual budget to the Board of Trustees and such amendments as are appropriate from time to time.
  • Reporting to the Board of Trustees on the operation and condition of the University and presenting for consideration of the Board of Trustees, such recommendations as the President deems necessary or expedient for the University’s welfare.
  • Conferring all diplomas or degrees, along with the chair or vice chair of the Board of Trustees and/or the vice presidents of the respective colleges, as authorized by the Board.
  • Being the final authority in the internal affairs of the University.
  • Performing such other reasonable and customary duties and functions as the Board of Trustees may from time to time assign to the President.

Preferred Qualifications

A doctorate with experience in higher education, a sound understanding of various online and in-person learning platforms, and fundraising skills is preferred.

The successful candidate will possess many of the following characteristics:

  • A strong Christian faith with a high level of integrity, morals, and ethics.
  • An understanding of and appreciation for the history, culture, and unique relationship with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America.
  • A willingness to embrace and commit to Bethel’s distinctive mission and core values to expand the reputation and visibility of the University.
  • A proven and progressive record of leadership in a senior administrative role, preferably in an academic environment.
  • Knowledge of and experience in higher education governance.
  • Experience in administrative and fiscal planning, budgeting, and financial management.
  • Experience in the strategic planning process and delivering performance-based results.
  • A proven track record in fundraising, alumni relations, and external relations.
  • The ability to acquire resources from a variety of sources, including grant funding.
  • A sound understanding of various educational learning platforms and technological needs, as well as the emerging trends, issues, and challenges in higher education.
  • An ability to acquire and supervise senior staff, foster a team building environment, and delegate effectively while holding direct reports accountable.
  • Servant leadership, displaying humility, empathy, and love for people.
  • Critical thinking skills, the ability to think creatively, an understanding of data analysis, and the ability to adapt to change quickly and easily when appropriate.
  • Strong organizational and time management skills.
  • A clear and compelling communication style with strong interpersonal skills.
  • An understanding of and healthy respect for the value of marketing and communications.
  • An approachable and compassionate listener with a genuine respect and concern for the well-being of students.
  • The ability to center students in decision-making.
  • The ability to ensure recruitment, development, and retention of a diverse faculty, administration, staff, and student body.
  • A commitment to student success through increased enrollment and graduation rates.
  • Experience in the accreditation process to ensure standards are met and reports are filed in a timely and accurate manner.

To Apply

To apply, candidates should submit a letter of interest and resume or curriculum vitae to Deadline to apply is October 12, 2023. All application materials will be considered in full confidence.

Search Prospectus

Download a printable copy of the Bethel University Presidential Search Prospectus here.

Presidential Search Prospectus