This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Hesston president to conclude at end of academic year

HESSTON, Kan. — Hesston College President Howard Keim announced Oct. 22 he will transition away from his role at the end of the 2015-16 academic year, concluding 11 years of leadership as the college’s eighth president. Keim will conclude his service in June.

Hesston College President Howard Keim visits with students including Daisy Correa, left, and Jessica Fahrenthold. — Larry Bartel/Hesston College
Hesston College President Howard Keim visits with students including Daisy Correa, left, and Jessica Fahrenthold. — Larry Bartel/Hesston College

“I am grateful for the trust that has been placed in me the last decade as I have served Hesston College,” Keim said. “I have always viewed myself as a steward, not an owner of the office of president, and it has been my goal to ensure students are well-served and the mission of the college was advanced and strengthened for the future.”

During Keim’s tenure, Hesston has made great strides in academics, facilities, financial stability and more.
In the academic realm, since January 2005 when Keim began his role as president, Hesston made changes to its general education curriculum and course transferability, as well as adding several high-demand programs of study and extracurricular activities. Program additions include the recent launch of a bachelor of science in nursing degree — the college’s first four-year degree program in almost 60 years.

Hesston began measuring, evaluating and improving course standards, academic challenge and faculty instruction as seen in results from student engagement and education assessment surveys. In 2010, Hesston was ranked the No. 2 two-year college in the country by Washington Monthly magazine and showed markedly improved scores in 2012. Student satisfaction rates continue to climb as faculty respond to feedback.

The campus has undergone several transformations. Keim helped the college recover from budget deficits, gain financial stability and increase the endowment.

The past 10 years have also seen an increase in student diversity after evaluating inclusionary practices for students from all backgrounds. Physical changes include one new building and a new campus entry, as well as renovations to four others to increase efficiency.

Starting with this year, Keim implemented a reorganized Student Development department. Student retention has increased, and the new structure is a response to further those efforts.

“Howard’s commitment to Hesston College, Mennonite education and the broader Mennonite church have been a valuable gift,” said Carlos Romero, executive director of Mennonite Education Agency. “He is a servant leader, and on behalf of Mennonite Education Agency, we are grateful for his significant contributions that will last far into the future.”

A search for the next president will begin as a search committee is finalized. Board member Ken Kabira will chair the committee. Other members will include members of the board and the MEA Board, faculty, staff and representatives from the wider Mennonite church and local community.

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