Bethany College to present alumni awards

BETHANY – Bethany College officials will recognize four almuni at the college’s Alumni Awards Dinner Saturday at the college’s Commencement Hall.

Beth Athol, George Manahan, Dr. Cheryl Mitchell and Don Wells will be honored at the college’s alumni awards dinner Saturday. To view the full schedule of Alumni Weekend events, visit To register, call Ashley Kanotz, director of alumni and parent relations, at (304) 829-7299.

Bethany College President Scott Miller said, “As the oldest degree granting institution in the state, Bethany College maintains strong relationships with distinguished alumni across many generations. We look forward to welcoming them back to campus and recognizing their significant contributions to society.”

Athol, a 1982 Bethany graduate and attorney from Sewickley, Pa., will receive the alumna of the year award, which is given to alumni who have demonstrated loyalty to the college and exceptional achievement throughout their lives, professionally and in service to the community.

Athol holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Bethany College and a doctorate from the Duquesne University School of Law. She practices law at Lovett Bookman Harmon Marks LLP, specializing in estate and transfer tax planning.

Previously she was employed by Reed Smith LLP in the trusts and estates group at its Pittsburgh office and vice president of the trust legal department at PNC Bank.

Athol serves on the college’s board of trustees and its executive committee and chairs the advancement committee and the college’s $52 million “Transformation Now!” capital campaign. She is a former member of the alumni council.

Manahan, a 1983 Bethany graduate, will be presented with the Distinguished Service to Alma Mater Award, the highest recognition award given to one recipient annually for alumni involvement, volunteer service and support to Bethany.

A Charleston resident, Manahan is chief executive officer of the Manahan Group, one of the state’s largest advertising and public relations firms, and served as press secretary for former Gov. Gaston Caperton.

Manahan has won numerous Public Relations Society of America awards, including practitioner of year in 2010 and the chapter’s lifetime achievement award in 2013. Last year he was named to the Bethany College Communications Wall of Fame.

He has been the professional adviser for the college’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter for the last three years. For 15 years he has served as chair of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity’s reunion committee, overseeing the 2013 event that drew more than 120 people, and received the “Phi” award for service to his chapter.

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he organized a 5K walk, the Fox Trot for Parkinson’s Research, which has raised $35,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and generated a local support group for those with the disease.

Mitchell, a 1976 Bethany graduate, will receive the Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes Bethany alumni for achievements and contributions to their profession or field.

A resident of Stockton, Calif., she majored in chemistry and biology at Bethany and went on to earn a doctorate in chemistry from Texas A&M University. In 2000, she founded Creative Research Management in Stockton, Calif., where she is president and senior research chemist. Mitchell also is president of Blue Pacific Innovative Ingredients, holds 47 patents and is an authority on sweeteners, rice processing and the extraction and metabolism of insulin, a natural sugar found in the fiber family.

Mitchell’s humanitarian efforts in Bangladesh resulted in the improvement of rice-based oral rehydration solutions. In 2011, she was honored by the California Legislature as 2011 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year.

Don Wells, a 1943 Bethany graduate and World War II veteran, will receive the community service award, which recognizes alumni who demonstrate significant leadership and service to their region or community.

A resident of Alexandria, Va., Wells enlisted in the Navy Reserve V-7 Program while attending Bethany and after graduating with a degree in economics, participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the invasion of Okinawa.

After World War II, Wells earned a law degree from the University of Virginia Law School. He has served as a volunteer for Special Olympics, the Salvation Army, Alexandria Legal Aid Office, First Christian Church of Alexandria, Boy Scouts of America and Alexandria Kiwanis Club.