Hesston College President Howard Keim announced to the college community today, that he will transition away from his role at the college 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.
“I am grateful for the trust that has been placed in me the last decade as I have served Hesston College,” said Keim. “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 and for the future.”
“Howard has served the college well,” said Kelvin Friesen, Hesston College Board of Directors Chairman. “He has given tirelessly of himself to advance this institution. It is evident that he has viewed his role here as a steward, and that he has seen his work here not as a job, but as a mission. He has served with distinction and the Board is deeply appreciative of his work.”
During Keim’s tenure, the college has made great strides in many areas that affect the student experience including academics, facilities, financial stability and more. In a September meeting, the Hesston College Board of Directors approved a new set of strategic priorities for the campus community to continue making improvements as it moves into the future.
In the academic realm, since January 2005 when Keim began his role as president, Hesston College has made important changes to its general education curriculum and course transferability as well as adding several high-demand programs of study and extracurricular activities to meet student needs and workforce demands. Program additions include the recent launch of a bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN) – the first four-year degree program for the college in almost 60 years.
Likewise, the college began measuring, evaluating and improving course standards, academic challenge and faculty instruction as seen in Hesston’s outstanding results from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) and Individual Development and Education Assessment (IDEA) survey. In 2010, Hesston College was ranked the number 2 two-year college in the country by Washington Monthly magazine based on 2009 CCSSE data and showed markedly improved scores on the survey in 2012. Student satisfaction rates continue to climb as faculty respond to feedback in student learning.
Under Keim’s careful and visionary leadership, the campus has undergone several transformations. Keim helped the college recover from budget deficits, gain financial stability and increase the endowment. According to Friesen, under Keim’s leadership, Hesston has always been in the upper zone on the Financial Responsibility Index as evaluated by the Federal Department of Education – a difficult task for a small college.
The past 10 years have also seen an increase in student diversity emphasized by a formal Inclusion and Diversity Council charged with evaluating the college’s inclusionary practices for students from all backgrounds. Physical changes to campus include the addition of one new building and a new campus entry, as well as renovations to four others to increase efficiency and better meet student needs.
Starting with the 2015-16 year, Keim implemented a reorganized Student Development department which includes Residence and Campus Life, Campus Ministries, Student Success and Athletics. Student retention has increased over the last several years and the new structure is a response to maintain and further increasing 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 the Mennonite Education Agency (MEA). “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 college’s next president will begin as a search committee is finalized. Ken Kabira, Board of Directors member, will chair the search committee. Other members will include members of the Board of Directors and the MEA Board, faculty, staff and representatives from the wider Mennonite church and local community.
Photo caption: President Howard Keim visits with sophomores who serve as First-Year Experience Scholars Luis Marinez Veloz, Daisy Correa, Jessica Farenthold, Karli Rodriguez and Jermani Thompson.