Bethany College president takes job in Alabama



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LINDSBORG, Kan. (AP) — Bethany College President Edward F. Leonard III is resigning to become president of an Alabama college.

Leonard, who has been Bethany president since August 2007, announced Wednesday that he will become president of Birmingham Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama, this summer.

"President Leonard has made a significant impact on the history of Bethany College," said Kris Ericson, chairwoman of the Bethany College board of directors. "He has established a positive trajectory for Bethany's future. We are thankful for his outstanding leadership and service, and wish him and his family well in their new adventure."

Enrollment has grown at Bethany during Leonard's tenure from 537 to 717, several new buildings have been constructed and a major fundraising campaign exceeded its $20 million goal by $2 million, the Salina Journal (http://bit.ly/1QLQ1YD ) reported.

However, the school has also consistently reported operating deficits.

For the 2009-10 school year, the college was in the red by nearly $2.9 million, according to financial information filed with the IRS. The deficit shrank to $591,000 in 2010-11 and decreased again to $312,000 for 2011-12. But the deficit grew to $1.6 million in the 2012-13 school year.

The Higher Learning Commission recently recommended that Bethany be put on notice to take steps to address its financial situation.

Although enrollment is increasing, board member Corey Peterson said the school's financial situation places "plenty of challenges ahead" for it.

"I think we're going in the right direction," Peterson said. "We have a plan in place that will strengthen us and make us more viable down the road. Small colleges have their challenges. Bethany isn't unique."

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Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, http://www.salina.com

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The Associated Press

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