Dr. Joseph Manickam named ninth president of Hesston College

Dr. Joseph and Wanda Manickam

Dr. Joseph and Wanda Manickam. Hesston College photo by Larry Bartel

Dr. Joseph Manickam has been appointed as the ninth president of Hesston College following a unanimous vote from the Hesston College Board of Directors and the Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) board. He will assume office on July 1, 2017.

Dr. Manickam, currently director of the Institute of Religion, Culture and Peace and faculty member for peace studies at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand, previously served in Thailand for three years with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada as director of the Central-Southern and Northeast Asia Program. Earlier in his career, he was director of the MCC Asia Program and associate director of the Center for Anabaptist Leadership in California.

His selection culminates a year-long process led by a 12-member presidential search committee composed of board members, faculty, staff, alumni and others, and chaired by Hesston College Board of Directors vice chair Ken G Kabira.

“The search committee is delighted that Dr. Manickam received a very strong affirmation from Hesston College’s campus community,” Kabira said. “He received a 98 percent ‘yes’ vote on the question about his candidacy. Since its formation in November 2015 and the kickoff meeting in January 2016, the search committee has spent many hours prayerfully vetting candidates’ strengths, Dr. Joseph Manickamfit and motivation to serve as Hesston College’s next president. As his predecessors have done, we are convinced that Dr. Manickam will strengthen Hesston College’s Christ-centered Anabaptist education. We are thankful for the Lord who has led us to this outcome.”

In its search process, the committee said it prioritized finding an “imaginative innovator” and “collaborative leader” and someone with “an astute financial mindset” along with a deep faith and sense of call.

Dr. Manickam had been announced in late October as the college’s candidate of choice for its presidency. He visited the campus Nov. 7 and 8 and met with faculty, staff, students, board members and local church and community leaders. The search committee gathered feedback from the various groups following the visit before making its final recommendation.

“Following a very positive visit to Hesston College, the Hesston College Board of Directors voted unanimously to recommend the appointment of Dr. Joe Manickam as the ninth president of Hesston College,” Hesston College Board of Directors chair Kelvin Friesen said. “We are thankful to the presidential search committee for their work over the past year, and we are very thankful that Joe and his wife, Wanda, have accepted this call. We look forward to their arrival.”

MEA Board chair Dr. Judy Miller likewise thanked the search committee and Kabira for their dedication and thoroughness.

“Their excellent work and discernment has led to an ideal candidate to build on a strong foundation at Hesston College,” Miller said.

Dr. Manickam succeeds Dr. Howard Keim, who concluded more than 11 years as president in June. Dr. Benjamin E. Sprunger has been serving as interim president for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Dr. Manickam comes with a strong knowledge of Hesston College and the broader community, as he is a 1987 Hesston College alumnus and served five years as associate director of admissions.

He earned a bachelor’s in communications from Goshen (Ind.) College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in intercultural studies from Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, Calif.). He has also previously served on the boards of The Mennonite and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Elkhart, Ind.).

The search committee praised Dr. Manickam’s relational abilities and his strong intercultural competency, which have been common threads in his work. His doctoral dissertation at Fuller focused on “A Study of Race, Culture and Ethnicity in Mennonite Church USA.”

“The value of Mennonite education is recognized across faiths and in the broader world community,” said Carlos Romero, MEA executive director. “Dr. Manickam’s commitment to provide a quality Anabaptist education for all and his significant international, cross-cultural and interfaith experience will help Hesston College as it faces the challenges of the future.”

Dr. Manickam noted that the coming year marks the 30th anniversary of his graduation from Hesston College, but he found many of the school’s hallmarks unchanged.

“Hesston College has evolved during these past 30 years while remaining true to its core values—values that strive to shape students, staff and faculty into fluent translators of Christ’s love. It is for this reason that I am excited about my return to Hesston College,” Dr. Manickam said. “I am truly humbled and grateful for the trust the board of directors has expressed in inviting me to this position.”




This is a joint release of Hesston College and Mennonite Education Agency.