Presidential Search Committee meets with campus community

The Hesston College Presidential Search Committee met on campus Jan. 15 and 16 to work through the process of determining the best candidate for the college’s next president. President Howard Keim, the college’s eighth president, announced his resignation in October, to be effective June 30, after 11 years of service.

The search committee facilitated listening sessions on Friday where students, faculty and staff were able to share their experiences as part of the community and their thoughts on the future of Hesston College.

The Hesston College Presidential Search Committee: Addie Banks (Bronx, N.Y.), Marie Morris (Anderson, Ind.), Ramiro Hernandez (Washington, Iowa), Carlos Romero (Goshen, Ind.), Carlota Ponds (Hesston), Barth Hague (Newton, Kan.), Ken G. Kabira (Naperville, Ill.), Kendra Burkey (North Newton, Kan.), Luke Roth-Mullet (Hesston), Tim Burkholder and Lynette Bontrager (Archbold, Ohio). Not pictured: Tony Brown (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Chuck Neufeld (North Newton, Kan.).
The Hesston College Presidential Search Committee: Addie Banks (Bronx, N.Y.), Marie Morris (Anderson, Ind.), Ramiro Hernandez (Washington, Iowa), Carlos Romero (Goshen, Ind.), Carlota Ponds (Hesston), Barth Hague (Newton, Kan.), Ken G Kabira (Naperville, Ill.), Kendra Burkey (North Newton, Kan.), Luke Roth-Mullet (Hesston), Tim Burkholder (Goshen, Ind.) and Lynette Bontrager (Archbold, Ohio). Not pictured: Tony Brown (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Chuck Neufeld (North Newton, Kan.).

“The committee is grateful for the significant and thoughtful responses that we received as part of the listening process,” said Carlos Romero, executive director of Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) and ex-officio member of the search committee. “The responses from the various groups will be carefully considered and help to inform the next steps.”

Involving students and hearing about their experience is an effective way for the committee to understand the campus climate and what is important to students both on campus and as they make their decision to start here.

“Students were involved in the past searches, and their voices helped make good decisions,” said Ken G Kabira (Naperville, Ill.), Presidential Search Committee chair and Hesston College Board of Directors member. “I believe current students can make a difference for future students by helping this committee.”

Faculty and staff discussed in small groups before sharing their ideas with the larger group. Looking to the future of Hesston College, some common themes that emerged for the next president were an understanding of Hesston College’s unique strengths as a two-year private college and a creative spirit to help the college thrive, passion for the college’s mission and values as well as those of the Anabaptist/Mennonite faith, experience in higher education and an ability to help navigate the current denominational and social climate with compassion and grace.

The committee also met with civic leaders as well as church and Mennonite Church USA conference leaders from the area and solicited views on Hesston College’s priorities as well as advice regarding the search.

The 12-person committee is made up of Hesston College Board of Directors members, MEA board members, Hesston College faculty and staff and church and educational leaders. Their next tasks include conversations with other identified groups, conduct an online survey of Hesston College stakeholders, assemble a profile of the ideal candidate and begin accepting nominations and applications for the role.