Category Archives: News and Information

Bethel University one of top 25 colleges offering free laptops

MCKENZIE, TN – Higher education in the 21st century depends on technology, and free laptops for college students is one way for colleges to make technology accessible. Bethel University was among the first colleges in the nation to provide students in select programs with a laptop at no cost, and it continues to be a popular offering with undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences and College of Professional Studies. This week, Bethel University was recognized by for its ongoing laptop initiative.

In compiling their list of the top 25 colleges offering free technology, College Concensus looked for schools which offer free laptops for students not just as an incentive to attract new enrollees, “but as a real pedagogical tool that is deeply embedded in learning.”

With the rising cost of education, paying out of pocket for an updated computer presents a financial challenge for many students. On their website, noted that “When schools provide the needed technology, they level the playing field so that no student is left behind simply because he or she is without the financial means to keep up. College Consensus thinks it is both innovative and admirable for schools to provide access to the technology needed to excel in higher education today.”

Bethel University President Walter Butler said that inclusion in the list tells prospective students that “Bethel is a school that values innovation and is dedicated to creating an ideal learning environment. Providing CPS and CAS undergraduates with the technology they need is just one more example of Bethel University’s ongoing focus on student success.”

To find out more, go to or go to

Bethel University Commencement to be held this Saturday

MCKENZIE, TN – A total of 374 Bethel University degree candidates are slated to graduate during ceremonies this Saturday, Dec. 8, in the Rosemary and Harry Crisp II Arena in the Vera Low Center for Student Enrichment. Commencement activities begin at 10 a.m.

Anne B. Pope, Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission, will serve as commencement speaker. The Tennessee Arts Commission is a state arts agency dedicated to cultivating the arts in Tennessee for the benefit of all citizens and their communities. Over the past five years, more than 6,450 grants totaling more than $30 million have been invested in communities across Tennessee.

Ms. Pope formerly served as federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, where she led a variety of economic and community development initiatives, including asset-based economic development; as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance; and as executive director of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment, and Music Commission. Immediately prior to joining the Tennessee Arts Commission, she was Vice-President of STEM Education, Oak Ridge National Lab and Executive Director of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, and is admitted to practice law in Tennessee and the District of Columbia.

Established in 1842, Bethel University is affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and offers bachelor’s, master’s, and associate degrees through a variety of learning platforms. For more information about Bethel University, go to

Bethel University announces partnership with Dyersburg State

McKenzie, TN — Bethel University Vice President Dr. Kimberly Martin announced an agreement today that will make it easier for graduates of Dyersburg State Community College to transfer to Bethel to complete their bachelor’s degrees in Management & Organizational Development with optional concentrations in Information Technology or Healthcare Management. Students may choose to attend classes one night per week on campus with other adult learners or may complete additional classes online through Bethel’s Virtual Campus.

Specifically, the agreement allows Bethel University’s College of Professional Studies to promote and offer on-campus degree completion courses at Dyersburg State’s main campus at 1510 Lake Road in Dyersburg. In addition, Bethel will accept all credit from students’ Dyersburg State associate degrees to apply toward their bachelor’s degrees. Both Dyersburg State alumni and other associate degree holders within the Dyersburg community can build upon their associate degree or previously earned college hours.

Martin stated that the academic partnership “demonstrates our commitment to promoting continued education to Tennessee adults” by saving students time and money while putting highly educated individuals into the workplace at an increased rate. “Together, we are working towards meeting Gov. Bill Haslam’ss Drive to 55 goal to see 55% of Tennesseans possess a postsecondary certificate or degree by the year 2025. By offering a bachelor’s degree completion program that is convenient and designed specifically for adult learners, we are reinforcing the fact that lifetime learning is the key to success,” she said.

Dyersburg State President Karen Bowyer sees benefits all around. “DSCC is excited about welcoming faculty from Bethel University to offer classes at the junior and senior level in the Eller Administration Building in spring 2019 for DSCC graduates. This new initiative will help this region develop the skilled people necessary to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity.”

Those who graduated from community college with at least a 3.0 GPA on or after Oct. 1, 2015 are eligible for a $500 scholarship.

“This is a truly exciting partnership,” said Bethel University President Dr. Walter Butler. “Both Bethel and Dyersburg State prepare graduates to thrive in today’s competitive professional environment. We look forward to offering incoming students the personal care and relevant curriculum that Bethel University is known for.”

College of Professional Studies students receive a laptop to use for their coursework, have their customized textbooks delivered directly to them, and study under the guidance of industry professionals and field experts.

“Dyersburg State Community College has offered high-quality educational opportunities at the certificate and associate degree level to students in Northwest Tennessee for 50 years,” Martin added. “Bethel is excited to partner with Dyersburg State to help its graduates earn bachelor’s degrees close to home, in an environment specifically designed for working adults.”

One of the oldest private institutions in Tennessee, Bethel University has been designated a “Military Friendly” school, and was named one of the best online colleges in Tennessee for 2018 by Credit hours can be earned for military and professional experience, as well as through qualifying exams. All students have access to a dedicated academic advisor, 24/7 technical support, a user-friendly online library, and more.

To learn more about Bethel University’s College of Professional Studies programs, go to, or contact Jackie Puckett at (270) 243.4321 or


Bethel ‘Revs’ up Collin Johnson’s future

Bethel ‘Revs’ up Collin Johnson’s future

Many students are so inspired by Bethel’s Management & Organizational Development program that they dream of starting their own business. After all, the courses cover nearly every subject entrepreneurs need to know. But very few undergraduates actually launch a company while sitting in the classroom – and fewer still experience the success that student Collin Johnson has.

Johnson’s booming business started with a class assignment: Design a comprehensive business plan and present it to the class via PowerPoint. A former aviation maintenance specialist and licensed FAA airplane mechanic, Johnson dreamed of serving his community by combining his passion for business with his skills for vehicle repair. “As I put those ideas on paper, I realized it was a business plan I could actually use. Bouncing those ideas off the class was like having a room full of prospective customers.”

And that’s when Rev Powersports was born.

“I got laid off from my aviation job due to corporate downsizing in February of 2017,” Johnson explains. “I started working at FedEx, and it seemed like I was trying to open a door that wasn’t meant to be open.” So, while working and going to school, he began repairing ATVs and watercraft out of his garage. He joined forces with a partner who serves as head mechanic, and quickly built a customer base.

As demand for repairs of everything from lawnmowers to powerboats grew, Johnson rose to meet it. “I found a facility, invested some money, and it’s just grown from there,” he says of the Jackson-based business. “It may have started out of necessity, but it was fueled by desire and passion, and fed by the Bethel program.”

A native and resident of tiny Beech Bluff, Tennessee, Johnson attended four different colleges before finding his way to Bethel. None proved to be a good fit. Too often, he found that many of his teachers were grad students with no experience in the field, or the advisor-student relationship was nonexistent. Ultimately, he dropped out and got a job at a Cessna single-engine repair facility. While repairing corporate jets for almost four years, he discovered his love for management. But with more than three years of college and no degree, he had the nagging desire to finish what he’d started.

“My dad graduated from the Bethel Success program in 1999,” he explains. “He talked about what a great experience it was – and how perfect it was for busy adults.” The younger Johnson became the second generation to enroll in the MOD program and attend classes at the Jackson campus. “Attending class was one thing that really attracted me to Bethel. It suited my hands-on learning style,” he explains.  But what Johnson liked best was the interaction with other students. “Sharing experiences relevant to the topic in an open environment felt less like a chore and more like time spent with friends. My classmates were trying to improve themselves, just as I was.”

All of Johnson’s teachers brought real-world experience to the classroom. Among his favorites was instructor Charles Anderson, who taught Business Ethics. “He underscored the importance of ethics and morals, and the way you should conduct yourself in a business environment. Mr. Anderson was a company manager, so he effectively utilized both principles and application. He would tell us how to do it – and then tell you how he’d done it.” Ironically, Mr. Anderson was one of Johnson’s very first customers.

His last class now finished and graduation just a December walk away, Rev Powersports is thriving — and so is Johnson. With five employees, a 10,000-square-foot facility, and a supportive wife, he’s an exceptionally busy man who’s managed to juggle both goals and dreams.

But Johnson remains modest about his success, and credits Bethel for much of it.

“Bethel’s College of Professional Studies programs provide the best possible option for working adults, and an opportunity to finish what you started. I’ve tried them all, and this program is truly above and beyond,” he says. “It gives you unlimited potential.”

And, as in Johnson’s case, it might be just the thing to “Rev” up your future.

Student Spotlight: Chief of Police James Sukach adds Bethel degree to his arsenal

With just four classes left to go until graduation, Criminal Justice student James Sukach can look back on an academic journey that’s been anything but “uniform.” As Chief of Police in Big Sandy, Tennessee, he’s had a chance to improve the lives of the citizens in his care through his coursework.

The Connecticut native arrived in West Tennessee after a 21-year career with both the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard – most of it serving in law enforcement. In his final position, he was given the opportunity to choose from three stateside assignments. His first choice was Tennessee.

“There was an open position for a river-tender in Paris Landing,” he recalls. Having grown up in the tiny town of Hebron, Connecticut, the West Tennessee area seemed friendly and familiar. He took the job in the summer of 2009, working aids to navigation keeping the river channels marked for barges. The three-year tour of duty ended with his retirement from the military in November of 2012.

For the next three years, James searched for his next career and tried a little bit of everything: from a department manager at Lowe’s to driving flat-bed tractor-trailers over the road.  In the summer of 2015, while working as an armed security officer at Centennial Hospital in Nashville, he learned about an opening for a Chief of Police in Big Sandy. He put in an application, was interviewed by the mayor, and got the job.

It was all coming together: James had an exciting new position and a permanent home. The one thing missing from his life was a college degree.

“I had taken a couple of courses over the years, but just never had time to really focus on my educational goals,” he says. That’s when he heard about Bethel University’s online criminal justice program.

“It made professional sense to pursue a degree in criminal justice,” he says. “I had retired with post-911 GI Bill benefits which I knew would eventually expire. It fit my occupation and my goals, and I wanted to put those benefits to use.”

“All the local law enforcement – the Benton County Sheriff’s office, the highway patrol officers – highly recommended the program,” he says. “I checked the school out, and discovered it was one of only a handful of universities whose criminal justice program was endorsed by the FBI.” That stamp of approval meant a great deal to James. He did some research, made a couple of phone calls, and ended up talking to Bethel representative Rick Bankey.

“I had some butterflies in my stomach when I enrolled,” he admits. “But I had great support from Rick and the Bethel staff every step of the way.”

In fact, James says, he has “absolutely no complaint” about any aspect of the program. “From my advisor to the librarian to my instructors – I’ve received great customer service that’s been second to none.” And, despite his busy professional schedule and a personal life that includes his fiancée Sandra and three dogs, James has always found time for his coursework.

“For anybody who works a dynamic schedule, the online program is the way to go,” he says. “It’s nice that I can work on my assignments for the week when I can. The work is practical, applicable, and stress-free.”

James remembers attending Orientation in Nashville and hearing one of the presenters talk about needing to have “an appetite for learning.” James is hungry for his degree, and has learned to take it one bite at a time. The police chief urges other busy professionals to consider Bethel University. “After that very first course, I was like, ‘I got this.’ And if I can do it, you can, too.”


Bethel University receives Veteran Reconnect grant

McKenzie, Tenn. – The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) announced today that 14 Tennessee institutions of higher learning, including Bethel University, will receive funding and program support through the Veteran Reconnect Grant. The program is designed to assist veterans and service members in their pursuit of college degrees. Veteran Reconnect is part of Governor Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative to increase educational attainment in the state to 55 percent by the year 2025.

The 2018 Veteran Reconnect grants focus on improving the assessment of prior learning for student veterans returning to college. Prior learning assessment (PLA) at colleges and universities examines a veteran’s prior military training and grants equivalent college credit for those skills attained during service. This results in a student veteran completing their postsecondary credential in an accelerated timeframe.

Dr. Kimberly Martin, vice president of Bethel’s College of Professional Studies, helped develop the grant for the university.

“We are so honored for the College of Professional Studies and Bethel University to receive the Veteran Reconnect Grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission,” she said. “The College of Professional Studies already serves a large number of veteran students, and this grant will help us expand opportunities for these servicemen and women to earn college credit for their military experience.”

Dr. Martin stated that the program will help reduce the cost of earning a degree and the time required to complete a degree program at Bethel University.

Governor Bill Haslam, the driving force behind Drive to 55, noted that many Tennessee veterans put their education on hold to serve our nation in the armed forces. “As a state, we have an obligation to support them in completing their education,” Haslam said. “Through the Drive to 55, we can connect veterans with the postsecondary credentials that will help them further stand out in the workforce. Veteran Reconnect is one more way that Tennessee is investing in veterans and their future.”

To learn more about Bethel University’s College of Professional Studies programs or enrollment, contact representative Lance Tasker at (931) 444.9864 or For more information about Bethel’s benefits for military students, go to:

Bethel Birthday Bash: Essay Contest

It’s Bethel’s birthday – And our Essay Contest is one more reason to celebrate!

Bethel University is celebrating its 175th birthday, along with 175 years of life-changing opportunities! To highlight all that Bethel means to its students and graduates, we’re hosting a Bethel Birthday Essay Contest. The rules are simple:

  • Think about what Bethel University means to you, and how it has changed your life.
  • Write an essay of 175 – 300 words on the topic “I Believe in Bethel.”
  • Email you essay submission to PR Director Cindy Chambers at by April 14, 2017.
  • The best essay overall will win a $175 VISA giftcard!

The winner will be announced at the upcoming Bethel Birthday Bash at your local campus.

CLICK HERE to RSVP for a Bethel Birthday Bash near you.

Deputy Chief Barry Michael: Still More to Learn

Like so many Bethel alums, Barry Michael planned to graduate from college on a “typical” timeline. In fact, after finishing high school in 1979, the Jackson native went straight on to Memphis State University. But a year-and-a-half into his traditional college experience, he decided to apply for a job at the Jackson Police Department, and was hired. That’s when Barry dropped out of college to devote his life to law enforcement.

It might be typical to say he “never looked back” as he rose through the ranks, ultimately earning the title of Deputy Chief of Police. But that wasn’t the case with Barry.

“Even 34 years later,” he says, “I kept telling myself that I needed to finish my degree because my mom and dad wanted me to.”

As fate would have it, in June 2010, Barry attended a week-long law-enforcement seminar in Jackson, and it was there he ran into Ray Farris. Ray was working for the state, but “trying to help get Bethel’s new online Criminal Justice program off the ground,” Barry recalls. “I just happened to mention to him that I’d always wanted to go back to school, but my work schedule just didn’t allow it. And Ray said, ‘Brother, I’ve got something for you right here.’”

Ray told him that Bethel was starting its very first group of online Criminal Justice students.  The new online format, he said, would allow Barry to juggle his personal, professional, and academic responsibilities. Ray’s enthusiasm was contagious. Barry enrolled. And just 17 months later, in December of 2011, Barry graduated with that first cohort group.

His mother proudly watched him cross the stage to receive his long-awaited degree, but couldn’t refrain from joking, “‘It took you long enough!’”

Barry responded, “I told you that I’d get my degree – I just didn’t tell you how long it’d take!” Continue reading

Older, wiser, “greener”

At 52 years of age, Walter “Bubba” Mullen was a bit older than most of his MBA classmates. A bit older – but even more eager to learn, grow, and challenge himself.

“I believe that if you’re green, you grow; if you’re ripe, you rot,” he says. “I knew that pursuing an advanced degree would keep me ‘green’ a lot longer.”

Mullen, who now serves as Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Alfa Vision Insurance, was heading up the two largest global Information Systems projects at Nissan North America when he first heard about Bethel in early 2013. Despite his unrelenting responsibilities and years away from school, he made up his mind to tackle the MBA program. Just 18 months later, he earned his graduate degree.

“My MBA experience at Bethel was fantastic,” he says today. “First, I loved the fact that it was a conservative Christian school with a challenging curriculum. As I began to compare different programs, I knew I didn’t want to just send off a check and get a diploma – I wanted to really learn something. Bethel was highly rated, cost-effective, and I could complete the classwork at the pace I wanted to. With one class every eight weeks, it was fast but focused.” Continue reading