Spring Commencement 2018

Friday, May 11, 2018 - 10:30am

Link to Commencement Vespers - May 10, 7:30 p.m.]


This event will be live streamed on the web, and on Facebook Live, starting at approximately 10:10 a.m. (video player will be at bottom of this page)

Commencement Speaker

Mikel Lauber |

Mikel Lauber

Mikel Lauber is a native of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where he attended and graduated from Winnebago Lutheran Academy. Lauber matriculated to the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac and transferred to Bethany in 2003. He earned his degree in communication from Bethany in 2005. 

Lauber hadn’t considered a career in broadcast until becoming involved with the communication program, and specifically the hockey broadcast team at Bethany.

Lauber started his career in television news at WSAW-TV in Wausau, Wisconsin, in 2007. As a reporter, he quickly developed an interest in investigative reporting. His reports earned the “Best Investigative Report” award from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association three consecutive years. 

It was Lauber’s extensive reporting on a religious sect in Shawano, Wisconsin, and its connection to an FBI ‘hit list’ investigation that garnered an Emmy nomination, a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award, and national interest. The story eventually brought him to New York City, where he and some of his reporting were included in an investigative report on the CBS Evening News.

Lauber served as WSAW-TV’s main evening anchor for several years before being named News Director in 2011.

In 2014, Lauber transferred within his parent company to lead the newsroom of KWTX-TV in Waco, Texas. While there, he led a team of veteran journalists to several prestigious recognitions. The station was chosen as the recipient of the National Association of Broadcasters Service to America Award for 2016, recognizing the station that had made the most significant impact on their community through its reporting and involvement. The KWTX newsroom was also honored with the Associated Press Award for Overall Excellence in News for the state of Texas in 2016. The station also received numerous awards for its breaking news and investigative reporting on problems within a nationally known university’s athletics program.

In 2017, Lauber moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he oversees the news operations of a network of Gray Television’s stations in Nebraska, including KOLN/KGIN-TV in Lincoln/Grand Island (CBS), KSNB-TV in Hastings (NBC), KNOP-TV in North Platte (NBC), and KNEP-TV in Scottsbluff (NBC).

Lauber and his wife Pam met while he was a student at Bethany and she was at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota. The Laubers are parents to three girls and are members of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church (WELS) in Lincoln, where Mikel serves as an Elder.

Distinguished Alumnus Award

Dr. Richard Bartsh |

Dr. Richard Bartsh

Dr. Richard Bartsh is Bethany’s 2018 Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient. Dr. Bartsh was born in Zumbrota, Minnesota, where he grew up and then attended Zumbrota High School. After high school, Bartsh enrolled at Bethany Lutheran College, played on the basketball team coached by Professor Ron Younge, and also played on the men’s golf team and baseball team.  He graduated with his associate in arts degree in 1972. After Bethany, he attended the University of Wisconsin at River Falls, where he earned his bachelor of science degree, and was the recipient of the Seymour Award which is given to the highest-ranking graduate. He was then accepted into the prestigious Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota. He received his doctor of medicine in 1978, and then completed a three-year residency program in family medicine at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. He became board certified in family medicine in 1981. 

Dr. Bartsh began his medical career in Le Sueur, Minnesota, where he practiced at Valley Medical Associates until 1983. From there he was hired as the Medical Director for Spencer’s Inc. in Mount Airy, North Carolina, and held that position until 1992 when joined John Deere Health Care. 

At John Deere Health Care, Dr. Bartsh held various positions from Medical Director, Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, and then Executive Vice President. In 2000 he became the President of John Deere Health Care, the health care division of Deere & Company. John Deere Health served over 500,000 members including employees and retirees of John Deere and 2000 other employers in the United States.

Dr. Bartsh served as the President of John Deere Health until 2006 when UnitedHealthcare purchased the company. He then served as the CEO of UnitedHealthcare of The River Valley and oversaw their operation in Iowa and Illinois. In 2008, Dr. Bartsh retired. Dr. Bartsh and his wife Joanne are parents to three grown children and have been blessed with seven grandchildren. The Bartsh’s maintain memberships at both Shepherd of the Glades Lutheran Church in Naples, Florida, and Redeemer Lutheran in Bettendorf, Iowa, where they have homes.