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Bethany College Announces Selection of Presidential Search Committee Members


By Bethany College


LINDSBORG, Kan. (APR. 27, 2024) — Following a comprehensive selection process, the Bethany College Board of Directors announces members of the Presidential Search Committee appointed during their board meeting on April 26, 2024. The committee composition aligns with board by-laws, showcasing diverse viewpoints within the Bethany College community.

Dr. Rob Habiger ‘69, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, leads the committee as Chair. Habiger brings a wealth of expertise from his career in management and technical roles at Conoco Phillips and Spectraseis, complemented by his unwavering dedication to Bethany College as a former visiting faculty member and current board member. He and his wife, Celeste ’69, received the 2018 Bethany College Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their service in and beyond the Bethany community. 

Becky Anderson ’69, secretary of the board and a well-known Lindsborg resident, will also serve on the committee. Anderson’s background in development and public service, including her tenure in Bethany College’s Advancement Office and her role as mayor of Lindsborg, enriches the committee with invaluable insights.

The committee is further supported by appointing committed board members Shane Reif ’09, Paul Fishburn ’91, and Dr. Marie Friedemann, each contributing unique expertise and leadership. Reif, with a background in human resources management, serves as Chair of the Board’s Governance Committee. Fishburn, President of the Healthcare Group at Outlier, brings extensive experience in business operations and strategic leadership and will serve as the Chair of the Business and Finance Committee beginning July 1. Friedemann, Director of Jesuit Worldwide Learning at Regis University, offers over 30 years of invaluable experience in higher education and is currently Chair of the Student Experience and Outcome Committee.

The committee includes distinguished faculty members Associate Professor Marcus Hensel, Associate Professor Laura Jackson-Stenlund, and Assistant Professor Christi Wicks. Hensel, specializing in English teaching for grades 6-12, has received prestigious teaching awards. He has served at Bethany since 2014. Jackson-Stenlund, Chair of the Exercise Science Department, has made significant contributions to Bethany College’s athletic training and exercise science programs since joining the faculty in 2011. Wicks has served Bethany since 2022 as an assistant professor of psychology and Title IX coordinator. Wicks brings substantial expertise to the committee.

Representing the staff, Tessa Peters ’14, Bethany College Dean of Student Affairs, is committed to enhancing student well-being. Her contributions will be invaluable in ensuring student input throughout the search process. Peters is highly involved in the community and serves as co-chair of the Hyllningsfest Committee.

Laura Moreno ’09, Dean of Athletics, will bring an understanding of the student-athlete, who represents 80% of the student body at Bethany. She brings a wealth of experience from her tenure in various roles within Bethany College’s athletics department. 

Jody Baker ’84 devoted 31 years to elementary education as a teacher and principal. She was recognized as elementary school principal of the year in 2011 by the Kansas State Board of Education. Following her educational career, Baker transitioned into consulting, currently focusing on coaching school leaders in Missouri on implementing positive behavior support systems. She continues to be actively involved with Bethany College as a devoted member of the Alumni Council.

Additionally, the committee benefits from representing the Lindsborg community through Larry Van Der Wege ’94, CEO of Lindsborg Community Hospital and 2023 recipient of Bethany College’s Distinguished Graduate Award. The Kansas Hospital Association recently recognized Van Der Wege’s exemplary leadership during the pandemic. His connection to Bethany College, Lindsborg stakeholders, and strategic visioning experience will be invaluable to the search committee.

Cheryl Rasmussen, Board Chair, expressed confidence in the committee’s leadership, stating, “We are fortunate to have someone with Rob’s experience chairing our search committee. I am very confident in his ability to lead the committee’s work.” Rasmussen continued, “We are also indebted to all of the talented members of the search committee for their commitment to Bethany College. This search is a vital undertaking, and the committee’s work over the next year is crucial to the success of Bethany College.”

The newly appointed Presidential Search Committee will commence their work immediately, aiming to recommend a candidate for Bethany College’s 16th president to the board by the April 2025 board meeting.

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop, and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning, and service. At Bethany, students join a community of dedicated educators and caring mentors who walk alongside them as they discover, explore, and navigate the path to their purpose. Bethany College is online at and is located in Lindsborg, Kansas, the fine arts and crafts capital of the state.