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Nancy Bean

A Lifelong Connection with Others

By Karen Forester
Posted 1/3/23

Nancy Bean has been part of the Bethel University community since she was three years old. Today, as incoming chair of the Board of Trustees, she continues serving the institution that has meant so much to her over the years.

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Nancy Bean

A Lifelong Connection with Others

Nancy Bean has been part of the Bethel University community since she was three years old. Today, as incoming chair of the Board of Trustees, she continues serving the institution that has meant so much to her over the years.
Nancy was born in Glasgow, Kentucky, and lived her first two years in Center, Kentucky. When her father was called into the ministry, the young family moved to McKenzie so both parents could attend Bethel. Nancy often attended classes with her parents and the connection with the campus was soon cemented. “Years later,” she recalled, “I would tell the new students the first time I went to Bethel, I didn’t get to graduate. Of course, I was only five years old!”
Later, Nancy and her parents moved to Campbellsville and then Madisonville, Kentucky, where she graduated from high school. Within a few months, she was back at Bethel, but this time as a student majoring in Music. As an undergraduate, she focused on the flute as her major instrument, but also included the piano. She began playing at age six under the tutelage of her grandmothers. She thought she wanted to teach music in public school, but eventually understood that profession wasn’t for her. Although she would continue to use music as a lifelong avocation by leading church choirs, she knew her desire to help others was paramount.
Nancy enrolled at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway and earned her master’s degree in counseling in 1975. She specialized in the fields of humanistic and behavioral counseling and accepted a position on another campus–-the College (now University) of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas. She spent the next eight years teaching psychology and managing the school’s program designed to assist learning disabled college students. “I love college kids,” Nancy said, “I love the way they think, the way they react to new situations. They come up with new ways to do things and I just think they’re great.”
After her employment at UCA, Nancy moved to Somerset, Kentucky, and began working for the Lake Cumberland Regional Mental Health and Retardation Council (now called Adanta). She served as director of the mental retardation programs overseeing preschool through adult population initiatives across ten counties. She spent the next eleven years ensuring the successful implementation of these services.
After nearly twenty years in highly demanding roles, Nancy decided she needed a break and chose to work for New York Life Insurance as an agent for two years and another three in sales. She enjoyed her time with the company, but knew her heart remained committed to helping others. 
It was about this time, Nancy happened to see a notice in the local newspaper’s classified section. It was advertising a position with the Department of Child and Family Services for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. “When I looked at all the qualifications, I was nodding check, check, check,” said Nancy, “I have experience doing all those things.” She applied for the Service Region Administrator and was hired to oversee the state’s monetary assistance and child support programs serving an eight-county area. For the next eight years, she managed over 400 employees and still found time to remain connected to her beloved Bethel University. 
Serving a nine-year rotation on Bethel’s Board of Trustees including as chair, Nancy would soon be presented with an unexpected opportunity. The Chief Operating Officer at the time approached her in December 2012 with a request to become the Vice President of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I remember the COO described this role during a dinner with my husband, Ken, and mother,” Nancy reflected,  “I looked over at Ken and he was nodding his approval. I looked at my mother who quickly said she would go with us to McKenzie.” Nancy accepted the role on the spot and agreed to start work in less than a month. It meant her family once more would relocate to McKenzie. “I’d retired, but I knew I wasn’t supposed to sit at home,” recalled Nancy, “I didn’t know what I was meant to do and prayed that God would show me the way. Turns out, the Lord just plopped this thing in my lap.”
On January 2, 2013, Nancy took over as the new vice president responsible for the traditional college experience including academics, athletics, Renaissance, the bookstores, the cafeteria and all the other components necessary to Bethel’s daily success. She said her goal was to boost morale among the students, faculty and staff, to get everyone excited about the future of Bethel. To do so, she maintained an open door policy, showing genuine care, empathy and prayerful support to all with whom she interacted. She understood the impact this type of leadership can have. “Bethel is home to me. To be there and have had a role working as a bridge between tough times and better times means the world to me,” said Nancy.
Reflecting on her career of service to date, Nancy believes each of her jobs were built on the one before and served as a progression of her career. She takes great joy in the work she did for the citizens, and especially the children, of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. “I was able to make a real difference in their lives through programs and services that reunited children with their parents, provided food, shelter and child support payments to those who needed it the most,” she recalls.
She has traveled to all 50 states and more than 30 countries on six of the seven continents missing only Antarctica. She was a volunteer peer reviewer for the Council on Accreditation (COA) which accredits human services organizations. This role allowed her to traverse the country helping other agencies attain their certification.
Nancy has one son, Jason Mikel, the full-time pastor of Jenkins Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Nolensville, Tennessee. He recently finished his coursework for his doctorate in Communication/Rhetoric from the University of Memphis. Jason and his wife have two sons, Phillip, 30, and Wesley, 18. Nancy also has two step-grandsons, John and Stephen, both of Columbia, Tennessee.
Although Nancy officially retired in 2016, she remains busy and engaged in the community and with Bethel. She is still active on Bethel University’s Board of Trustees for the third time in her distinguished career and has been elected chair for the second time. She begins serving her three-year term this month. 
Nancy also serves as chair of the McKenzie Historical Commission working over the past five years with business owners, city officials and others to protect the integrity of downtown McKenzie buildings and structures.
She is active in the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church, loves to travel and is, as she says, “a crazy University of Kentucky basketball fan who purchases season tickets every year!” She is looking forward to lots of road trips to Lexington, Kentucky, with her son, cousin and his wife.
Nancy and Donna Ward recently organized a ‘Friends’ Club’ for people who enjoy getting together with others. The group meets once a month for lunch at a restaurant generally within a 20-mile radius of McKenzie. Currently, there are 15-20 members and Nancy encouraged all who may be interested in joining to contact her or Donna. There are no membership dues required. 


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