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COB Honours Dr. Keva Bethel’s Life, Legacy

Veteran educator Dr. Keva M. Bethel’s contributions to The Bahamas, the region and the world have not gone unnoticed.
Having spent over half her life imparting knowledge and ideas, bringing out the best in the thousands of students she taught, Dr. Bethel’s life and legacy will be honoured this week in a tangible way.
The College of The Bahamas (COB), in collaboration with Dr. Bethel’s family and friends, has planned a series of events.
Dr. Bethel served as COB’s first female principal.
In 1995 when the College of The Bahamas Act was passed granting autonomy to the institution, she became president, serving in that capacity from 1995 to 1998 when she retired.
She was appointed president emerita in 2005 and scholar in residence in 2009.
She died on February 15, 2011.
“Dr. Bethel was a special woman with a strong vision about education in The Bahamas, particularly higher education,” said COB President Dr. Betsy Vogel-Boze.
“She will always be remembered for her deep devotion, not only to national development, but to uplifting the human spirit. Her life and legacy have impacted and inspired many of us in a myriad of ways.”
The inaugural events being launched this month include an exhibition, showcasing Dr. Bethel’s legacy as principal and president of COB, the naming of one of the college’s landmark buildings in her honour [the A Block] and a distinguished lecture by noted Caribbean scholar, Professor Errol Miller.
“…I was deeply saddened by her passing…I think we as Bahamians, colleagues and members of the college family, we should recognise our people. Sometimes, we forget and sometimes we don’t give people their due and I really think that we have to start doing this. It’s just a pity that Dr. Bethel has left us, but she will be remembered herself because of her self and her work and also the celebrations,” said Dr. D. Gail Saunders, a former student, colleague and close friend of Dr. Bethel.
Dr. Saunders serves as chair of the Steering Committee.
Several other activities are planned for October, including a day of service.
“My mother’s life was one of service. She had a calling. She had to be coached, coaxed and pushed into taking the position of principal of the college, but once she took it, she basically give everything. She built her life not only around the fact that she was principal, but that it was a responsibility, which required her to go above and beyond what she was compensated, the kinds of things she had at her disposal, the kinds of things available on campus…For her, it was a life of service,” said her daughter and COB faculty member, Dr. Nicolette Bethel.
“It was a life of developing the College of The Bahamas for the betterment of the country and we feel that’s something that is important to pass on to future generations; that spirit of giving above and beyond, of not just being compensated for what it is you’re supposed to do, for not looking at the job description and then carrying out duties as they are outlined, but seeing the bigger picture and giving of yourself to that bigger picture.”
But, Dr. Bethel’s life of service extended beyond the gates of COB.
She was actively involved in various aspects of national life including her commitment to the Governor General Youth Awards, the Guide Association and The Bahamas Red Cross, the International Women’s Forum of The Bahamas and the Renaissance Singers
And then there was her role as a mother.
“Even though no one in my family was really interested in sports…my mum would take me to all my soccer games or races. She would be the one there for all of that. When Nicolette and I participated in all of our concerts, she would attend all,” said her son, Edward Bethel, who is expected to join the college’s staff in September.
“She was committed to family. After Bishop (Michael) Eldon got sick, she was committed to caring for him every day. This type of responsibility was just as deep and just as real as was her community spirit.”
Also among the college’s goals is the establishment of the Keva M. Bethel Memorial Endowment and a Fellows Programme aimed at mentoring young leaders.
The endowment will give to the college in perpetuity.
“I encourage the entire Bahamian community to be a part of it. It would allow us to have events on an annual basis,” COB’s Development Director, Davinia Blair explained.
“…As the country gives more to students, it helps to bring out the intelligence that’s already in them. So, funding inspires. At the College of The Bahamas, we have been doing a lot to be excellent stewards of the funds that are given to us and we will continue to do that and at the same time, our students are ready to meet the challenge. They just need the assistance.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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