Former COB President Dr. Keva Bethel Dies at 75

Thursday 17th, February 2011 / 09:44 Published by

Dr. Keva Marie Bethel, the first president of The College of The Bahamas, died early Tuesday morning at Doctors Hospital. She was 75 years old.

In a sad bit of irony, Ms Bethel passed away on the same day that her brother, Bishop Michael Eldon, the first Bahamian Bishop of the Diocese of the Bahamas, was laid to rest.

Bethel’s contribution to national education started in 1959 when she became an assistant mistress in Spanish and French at Government High School. She continued to make an impact on education in The Bahamas for the next 50 years.

She became the foirst president of The College of The Bahamas in 1995, after serving as principal of that institution since 1982.  She retired from her post as president of the college in 1998.

Bethel was later named President Emerita of the college where she had spent a great deal of her career helping to mold the minds of young Bahamians.

As head of COB for 16 years, Ms Bethel was credited with taking the institution from the Associate to Baccalaureate degree status, and also with establishing scholarships to assist students.  She was a stronhg proponent of the college’s push for university status.

Dr. Bethel has been awarded many honours and distinctions throughout the years, including Chamber of Commerce Award for Government and the International Woman’s Forum Award. She was made a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) in 1995.

Her reach extended beyond the Bahamas. She chaired a 1993 National Task Force on Education at home, was a member of the Inter-American Committee of Education and of the University of the West Indies’ Faculty of Education Review Team. Her activities included membership on a CARICOM Heads of Government Committee of Experts, where she reported on the region’s legal education system.

As a community builder, Bethel also served on the boards of several organizations, including her alma mater, Queen’s College, where she was awarded the Parkinson Prize for Progress.  Bethel, a member of the school’s Class of 1950, served on its board for 30 years and was inducted into its Hall of Fame just last month.

Bethel was part vof a family with a history of dedication and commitment toward nation building.

Her brother, Bishop Michael Eldon who died last week, was praised for his life-long commitment to the spiritual and educational development of the The Bahamas. Their mother, Rowena Eldon, was the first Bahamian president of the Bahamas Red Cross Society and a founding member of the Ranfurly Home for Children.

Dr. Bethel was also the widow of the late cultural icon E. Clement Bethel, the first Director of Culture, a post in which the couple’s daughter Nicolette served in many years later. Both Nicolette and Edward, the couple’s two children, are educators.

Born on August 18, 1935, Dr. Bethel is survived by two children, Nicolette Bethel-Burrows (Ph.D.) and Edward Bethel; a son-in-law, Philip A. Burrows; a daughter-in-law, Tasha Honey-Bethel; a grandson, Jaxon Elijah Bethel and other family members including cousins, nieces and nephews and a host of friends and colleagues.

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