Bethel University names its first woman President

NOW: Bethel University names its first woman President

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MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- “I know that what I am doing is important,” says Dr. Barb Bellefeuille, President of Bethel University. “And when you know that what you are doing is important to the world, it has a way of keeping you motivated. And I truly believe that the work of Bethel University is of the utmost importance, and I want to be doing that kind of work.”

Meet Dr. Barb Bellefeuille. The lifelong educator is now the 8th president of Bethel University, yet, her role means more than just holding the title.

“I did not see females in the positions, I remember the first time in my teaching career, where we heard about a female principal in a public-school system.”

Dr. Bellefeuille is the first woman ever appointed to the position.

“When I began my career in higher education, less than 10% of college presidents were female, and currently that number is up to 35% and that has just been exciting to watch that growth, and I am anxious to see it grow to 50%.”

Female university presidents are historically rare across the nation. However, for Dr. Bellefeuille, she believes the numbers can climb with her presidency as well as others in the 35%, too.

“For the student body to see a person of some variety, let’s put it that way, in the head role, gives people aspirations and helps them think I can aspire to something like that.”

Dr. Bellefeuille reflects fondly on one of her own influential female mentors. Someone who saw her leadership potential early on in her career. Someone who gave her the courage to step out of her comfort zone and dream big. Guiding her every step of the way. Her advice to young girls is find your person to stand by you as you take on new challenges that push you outside of your comfort zone.

“Ask people to watch you in that position, and ask them if they see in you a skill sets that lend themselves toward leadership. And if so, after those kinds of experiences, ask yourself “am I comfortable with this?” “do I feel I have the skill set?” Then ask the people to be very honest with you, “do you see in me these kinds of skills?” And then if everything is a go, I say go for it and be confident.

Now her goals for Bethel? Continue to offer a holistic approach to education.

“Here at Bethel we wear our faith on our sleeves, and some of them are coming out of situations, where that was not the case. And we truly believe in a holistic education and it is body, soul and mind. We challenge the student to think about their faith and eternity in light of their faith.” 

Learn more about Bethel University here.


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