Gregg Chenoweth says he was drawn to Bethel College by its Christian focus and its location in the greater South Bend urban area.
"I really like the town-gown opportunities that are there," said Chenoweth, who this week was named to be the next president of Bethel College in Mishawaka.
He noted Bethel students perform about 25,000 hours of community service each year.
"I'm very committed to Bethel having an active relationship with the community that it serves," he said Wednesday in a telephone interview from Illinois.
He said he wants Bethel students and employees to continue their involvement in the region, and he wants community residents to feel comfortable and welcome on campus.
Chenoweth currently is vice president of academic affairs at Olivet Nazarene University, in Bourbonnais, Ill., where he's worked for 10 years. He started there as a faculty member, then served three years as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences before being promoted five years ago to vice president.
He'll start at Bethel in July as the college's seventh president, succeeding current President Steven R. Cramer, who is retiring.
Chenoweth grew up in Fenton, Mich. He earned a bachelor's degree in communications from Olivet Nazarene in 1990, a master's degree in organizational communication from Northern Illinois University in 199
and a doctoral degree in organizational communication from Wayne State University in 2003.
Chenoweth is an ordained minister and deacon in the Church of the Nazarene, while Bethel College is affiliated with the Missionary Church.
Both are Protestant Christian denominations in the Wesleyan tradition.
While higher education today is facing tensions related to transparency and increasing costs, it's also a growth industry, Chenoweth said. Many people are eager to earn degrees from Christian institutions and to grow their faith while they attend college, he said.
"We may need to reshape the way we deliver education to this particular generation," he said. Chenoweth is interested in expanding Bethel's online and distance-learning offerings, and also creating tailored classes in the community for employees of individual companies or agencies.
Bethel's enrollment of more than 2,000 is mostly undergraduates, and Chenoweth said he'd like to grow the graduate programs and add more graduate degrees.
Chenoweth's wife, the former Tammy Salyer, moved with her family to Granger as a teen and graduated from Penn High School. Her parents now live in Mishawaka. The couple have three children, ages 20, 17 and 15.
Although Chenoweth has no direct connection to Bethel, his wife has relatives who graduated from the college, he said.
Chenoweth is eagerly looking forward to leading the college.
"I have peace in the heart and fire in the belly," he said. "I'm very optimistic about Bethel."
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Staff writer Margaret Fosmoe: