Bethany College (West Virginia)

Bethany College is a private, liberal arts college in Bethany, West Virginia. Founded in 1840 by Alexander Campbell of the Restoration Movement, who gained support by the Virginia legislature, Bethany College was the first institution of higher education in what is now West Virginia.[a]

Bethany College
Bethany College WV logo.jpg
TypePrivate, Liberal Arts
Religious affiliation
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Endowment$77 million[1]
PresidentRev. Dr. Tamara Rodenberg (January 2016 - )[2]
Students650 (600 full-time)
Location, ,
United States
CampusRural 1,300 acres (526 ha)
Athletics22 NCAA Division III Athletic Teams and an Equestrian club team.
ColorsGreen and White          


A liberal arts college, Bethany was chartered on March 2, 1840, by the Virginia legislature and given "all degree-granting powers" of the University of Virginia.[citation needed] West Virginia's secession from Virginia on June 20, 1863, recognized existing Virginia charters; Bethany College continues to operate under the Virginia charter.

It was founded by Alexander Campbell, a minister in the Restoration Movement who provided the land and funds for the first building and served as the first president. Bethany has been a four-year private liberal arts college affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),[3] since its inception.[4] This religious body, of which Campbell was one of the principal founders, continues to support and encourage the college but exercises no sectarian control. An early center of coeducation, Bethany has admitted women since the 1880s.

The college's roots stem from the Buffalo Seminary, founded in 1818, by Campbell; sessions were first held in his mansion in Bethany,[5] home of Alexander Campbell and his father Thomas Campbell. The new Buffalo Seminary, " a continuing education arm of the College" is less than a mile away from the College.

Images of Bethany College, 1904

The college is the birthplace of Delta Tau Delta, an international social fraternity founded in 1858.[6]

During World War II, Bethany was one of 131 colleges nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program, which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[7]

A number of campus buildings are contributing resources to the Bethany Historic District.[8] The Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.[9] Pendleton Heights was listed in 1975 and the Delta Tau Delta Founders House in 1979.[9]

The campus is also home to the Parkinson Forest, which in 2019 was added to the national Old-Growth Forest Network. The designation identifies the Parkinson Forest as the oldest Old-Growth Forest in Brooke County.[10]


Bethany College offers a wide selection of studies, awarding Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degrees in more than 25 fields. If a major does not appeal to a student, Bethany offers students the opportunity to design their own major through the Interdisciplinary program. Bethany also offers Dual Majors, which is a combination of two majors.[11]

According to recent research, 95% of Bethany College graduates carry student loan debt, averaging $25,704.[12] The endowment fund in 2016 was worth $46.7 million.[13] According to U. S. News tuition and fees are $28,444 and room and board costs $10,270 (2017–18). About 29% of Bethany students graduate in four years.[13]

Student lifeEdit


Bethany completes in intercollegiate athletics at the NCAA Division III level and is a member of the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). The school's mascot is the Bison and its colors are green and white. Bethany offers both women and men these sports: basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis and track and field. Additionally,men can play baseball,football, and lacrosse and women can play softball and volleyball.

The men's soccer team won the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship in 1994. The Bison defeated Johns Hopkins, 1–0, in double overtime for their first and only NCAA title. In doing so, Bethany became the smallest college in the United States to win an NCAA championship. The winning goal was scored by Pat Ricci and was assisted by Steve Lindquist. Malleh Sallah was named the NCAA Goalkeeper of the Year and a First Team All-American. The team was coached by John Cunningham, who led the team from 1968 to 2001 and never had a losing record.

Greek lifeEdit

Fraternities and sororities constitute important social groups for upperclass-men and -women on campus. Members of the four social fraternities and three sororities constitute approximately forty percent of the student body. Representatives from each serve on agencies which coordinate fraternal affairs and activities.

Social fraternities represented are Delta Tau Delta (which was founded at Bethany in 1858),[6] Alpha Sigma Phi, Beta Theta Pi, and Phi Kappa Tau. Sororities are Alpha Xi Delta, Phi Mu, and Zeta Tau Alpha.

The co-ed national service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega was granted a charter at Bethany in 2004. Members of Alpha Phi Omega are permitted to join social fraternities or sororities.


Bethany's 1,300-acre campus is in the northern panhandle of West Virginia, on the hilly Allegheny Plateau. Wheeling, West Virginia; Washington, Pennsylvania; and Steubenville, Ohio, are each about half an hour away. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a 50-minute drive from campus.

Academic buildingsEdit

Name Function Notes
Old Main (Bethany College) Old Main is the centerpiece of Bethany's academic buildings. Its tower dominates the campus and is the chief architectural feature noted as one approaches the College. Old Main is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was designated as such in 1970. The building is one of the earliest examples of collegiate Gothic architecture in the United States.
David and Irene Steinman Fine Arts Center The Steinman Fine Arts Center provides facilities for music and theatre. Facilities include a theatre, teaching studios, studio-classrooms, a general rehearsal room for the larger vocal and instrumental groups, and individual practice rooms support instruction in music.
Grace Phillips Johnson Visual Arts Center This building offers facilities for computer graphics, television, painting, sculpture and design. The Grace Phillips Johnson Visual Arts Center was formerly known as the Irvin Gymnasium (built in 1919). Renovation to its current state was finished in 1984.
Kirkpatrick Hall of Life Sciences This hall accommodates laboratories, classrooms, and faculty for the biology and psychology departments. It also has a computer laboratory.
Morlan Hall Morlan Hall houses the communication, political science, history, economics, and language department offices. Its base floor contains a cafe with local wireless service.
Richardson Hall of Science This hall provides facilities for the chemistry, physics, and mathematics departments, as well as the two primary computer laboratories. The Richardson Hall of Science is named for Robert Richardson, Bethany College's first science professor.
T.W. Phillips Memorial Library This facility serves as the hub of an academic information network that provides the campus with over 250,000 items locally (books, periodicals, newspapers, audiovisuals, archival materials) and access to information through online subscriptions to ProQuest Direct, Lexis-Nexis Universe, JSTOR, Britannica Online, and many other sources. The Center for Campbell Studies, housed in the Library, contains books, periodicals, letters, paintings, photographs, and museum pieces related to Bethany's founder and first President Alexander Campbell. The Upper Ohio Valley Collection, which includes books, magazines, maps, pictures, and ephemera focusing on the nine counties in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio surrounding Bethany, is also in the library.
Judith Rothrock Hurl Educational Building This building houses the education department at Bethany College This building takes its name after Judith Rockrock Hurl, a 1953 Bethany graduate and member of the College’s first graduating class of education majors. The building was acquired by the college via funds provided by Dr. Rodney Hurl in memory of his wife. Dr. hurl, a 1952 graduate, also served as Trustee of the college, and comes from a long lineage of Bethany graduates.

Residence hallsEdit

Name Description/Living Arrangements Notes
Percy B. Cochran Hall[14] Completely remodeled in 2009-10, it again serves as a dormitory with suite-style living for 72 students. Percy B. Cochran Hall, built in 1910, was named in memory of the son of M.M. Cochran, a longtime benefactor and trustee of the college. From its opening until 1971, it served as a dormitory for male students. Converted to faculty offices in 1974-75, it was closed in 2001.
Campbell Village[14] Campbell Village is a co-ed student housing unit. Each suite within contains a common room as well as four private, individual occupancy rooms. "CV", as it is referred to by students, is a four-building complex, housing 380 students, and was completed during the 2000-2001 academic year.
Ivabell Harlan Hall[14] Harlan Hall is a traditional all-male, double-occupancy dormitory, providing residence to 68 students. The residence hall was built in 1960 as a gift from C. Allen Harlan.
Phillips Hall[14] Phillips Hall is the only traditional all-female dormitory; it houses 120 residents. Its doors are always open, not only to its residents but to all Bethany students interested in visiting with Phillips residents, attending scholarly lectures in the famous Phillips Hall Lounge, and watching a series of movies at Maxwell's. The hall was completed in 1929 to replace the original Phillips Hall which was a gift from Thomas W. Phillips.
Greek Hill [New Parkinson Place][14] Greek Hill is a hilltop complex with 6 social Greek houses, consisting of three fraternities: Delta Tau Delta, Alpha Sigma Phi and Phi Kappa Tau and three sororities: Alpha Xi Delta, Phi Mu, Zeta Tau Alpha.
Goodnight and Woolery[14] Goodnight and Woolery are both two story residence halls designed to promote community living. They are co-ed dormitories similar to townhouses.

In July 2020, the college announced that it had removed Robert Byrd's name from the health center building.[15][16]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ West Liberty University is older but was a secondary school until 1870.


  1. ^ "Bethany College: Meet the Staff". Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  2. ^ "Rev. Dr. Tamara Rodenberg begins tenure as Bethany College's 20th President". Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Bethany College :: Campus Ministry". Archived from the original on 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  4. ^ "Select Library". 2000-01-01. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  5. ^ "Bethany College :: Bethany College Establishes Buffalo Seminary". Archived from the original on 2012-12-14. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  6. ^ a b "History | Delta Tau Delta". Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  7. ^ "Naval Training and Education Yearbooks in the Navy Department Library". Department of the Navy. 2011. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
  8. ^ Henry J. Browne (September 1981). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Bethany Historic District" (PDF). State of West Virginia, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
  9. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  10. ^ "Parkinson Forest Added to Old-Growth Network - About Bethany - Bethany College". About Bethany. 2019-10-17. Retrieved 2020-06-28.
  11. ^ "Bethany College :: Degrees and Majors". Retrieved 2014-08-21.
  12. ^ "Average Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2020".
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Bethany College :: About our residence halls". Archived from the original on 2012-11-27. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  15. ^ "Bethany College Begins New Chapter - About Bethany - Bethany College". About Bethany. 17 June 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  16. ^ Jaschik, Scott (June 30, 2020). "Bethany Removes Robert Byrd Name From Building". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  17. ^ "Clark, (James Beauchamp) Champ (1850-1921)." The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide. Abington: Helicon, 2010. Credo Reference. Web. 17 September 2012.
  18. ^ "Gordon, Caroline (1895 – 1981)." The Crystal Reference Encyclopedia. West Chiltington: Crystal Semantics, 2005. Credo Reference. Web. 17 September 2012.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 40°12′21″N 80°33′37″W / 40.20583°N 80.56028°W / 40.20583; -80.56028