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Bethel University began in Chicago, Illinois, as a seminary for Baptist immigrants from Sweden. In 1871, John Alexis Edgren opened a school for Swedish Baptist immigrants in the basement of First Swedish Baptist Church in Chicago. In 1914, now under the support of Baptist General Conference, the seminary merged with Bethel Academy and relocated its campus to Saint Paul, Minnesota. In 1931, the Academy became Bethel Junior College. The addition of a four-year liberal arts college program created Bethel College and Seminary in 1947. The school relocated from St. Paul to Arden Hills, Minnesota in 1972. Beginning in 2004, the institution changed its name to Bethel University.
Bethel has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1959. Its nursing program is approved by the Minnesota Board of Nursing. Bethel's business program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
There are six main academic buildings located at the center of Bethel University's main campus in Arden Hills, Minnesota. They run Southwest/Northeast and are connected on the first three floors by weather-protected skyways and tunnels.
Starting from the Southwest and running to the Northeast, the buildings are as follows (with abbreviations in parentheses): Benson Great Hall and Lundquist Community Life Center (CLC), Barnes Academic Center (BAC), Brushaber Commons (BC), Clauson Fine Arts Center (CC), Hagstrom Student Services Center (HC), and Robertson Physical Education Center (RC).
There are four freshman residence halls on campus. Three--Bodien Hall, Getsch Hall, and Edgren Hall--encircle a cul-de-sac just south of the academic buildings, informally known as Freshman Hill. The fourth, Nelson Hall, is the largest of the freshman residences, and located nearby on the north side of the academic buildings. It is the oldest building on Bethel University's current campus in Arden Hills.
Residences for returning students
Two residence halls, Arden Village and Lissner Hall, mostly house returning students. North Village, a collection of five buildings formerly used as housing for seminary students, houses returning students and offers a full kitchen in every suite. It is located at the far north end of the campus. Heritage Hall, opened in 1999, is a suite-style residence hall, housing juniors and seniors. Students enrolling after Fall 2019 must be 21 years of age prior to September 1 to live off-campus with the exception of those who commute from their parents' home.
Commons Building in 2010
The Brushaber Commons, a $30 million, 106,000-square foot student commons area, opened in 2009. The Brushaber Commons is named after retired Bethel President George K. Brushaber. In addition to serving as a gathering point for students, the commons includes a dining center, coffee shop, restaurant, campus store, office space, public meeting areas, and an admissions center.
Benson Great Hall
Benson Great Hall, Bethel's performing arts center, is a 1,700-seat concert hall with a 4,000-pipe Blackinton organ located in the center of the Lundquist Community Life Center. This hall houses worship services, theatre productions, and can be rented by outside performers. Benson Hall has hosted a variety of events in the past, providing a venue for Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, a location for high school graduations, and the 2018 Super Bowl Gospel Celebration. Benson Great Hall offers a green room, backstage dressing rooms and bathrooms, custom sound dampening, lighting, and set design for special events.
Covenant for Life Together
All full-time students in the College of Arts and Sciences are expected to abide by the Covenant for Life Together. The Covenant is a lifestyle agreement that focuses on living a life of faith and personal morality. The Covenant emphasizes a respect for all persons and ethnic traditions and requires students to refrain from any sort of extramarital sex, homosexuality, pornography, gambling, illegal drugs, and tobacco in any form.
Under the Covenant for Life Together, students in the College of Arts and Sciences were initially prohibited from consuming alcohol year-round, but the rules were eventually relaxed to allow alcohol consumption when classes are not in session. Alcohol consumption by full-time students in the College of Arts and Sciences is still prohibited during the academic year.
Bethel University has a student news publication, The Clarion, which is printed during the school year and distributed on campus as well as online.
Hargis Park, the home field of the Bethel University baseball team, opened in the spring of 2000. It features an entirely turf field, an outdoor turf batting cage, two clay bullpen mounds, major league length dugouts, press box, and inning-by-inning scoreboard in left field and capacity to over 500 spectators.
Ona Orth Athletic Complex opened for play in the fall of 2003 and is home to Bethel's tennis, softball, and soccer teams. The facility includes a fast-pitch softball park, six tennis courts, and a soccer practice/game field with branded team building.
Robertson Center Gymnasium has been the home of Bethel basketball and volleyball since 1972.
Royal Stadium, the home of Bethel's football team, was built in 1995 and renovated in 2001.