Updated Thursday, Nov. 9.
The Hesston College Board of Directors announced today institutional changes that came out of their recent board meeting including a shift in leadership and academic focus.
The board accepted the resignation of President Joseph A. Manickam effective Dec. 31, 2023. This decision comes after a September faculty vote of no confidence in the president and an independent investigation into the concerns.
“The findings of this investigation, which included interviews with various stakeholders and a comprehensive review of the issues raised, revealed a complex situation with multiple perspectives,” explained Board Chair Ken G. Kabira in a letter to employees. “In light of these findings, Joe chose to resign from his position as president to allow the college to move forward.”
Kabira said this decision reflects Manickam’s dedication to the well-being and unity of Hesston College.
“The board of directors acknowledges and deeply appreciates Joe’s dedicated service and the positive contributions he has made to our college and the broader community,” said Kabira.
In an effort to keep forward momentum, the board also appointed Vice President of Academics Ross Peterson-Veatch to serve as interim president effective Monday, Nov. 13, while a comprehensive search commences for a new president. Manickam will serve as a liaison to the interim president through the end of December to ensure a seamless transition of the college’s operations.
A shift in the college’s academic focus presented by the administrative council was also affirmed at the board meeting. This plan will address financial challenges and press further into Vision 2025. Driven by a commitment to holistic student development, the plan calls for an official shift in direction toward a four-year college model.
Hesston College will now focus primarily on bachelor’s degree offerings in professional fields while still offering associate degrees. Four-year degrees have already been launched in the schools of aviation, management, engineering and nursing. The next goal is to launch additional bachelor’s degree programs within these four schools as soon as possible. The shift to a four-year college also includes extending athletics to a four-year model. Performing arts will continue, but is shifting from an academic program to an activities model. Scholarships will continue to be offered for both athletics and performing arts.
The shift in academics coupled with the college’s financial reality did necessitate the reduction of 13 full- and part-time faculty and staff positions. These decisions were approached with much care and consideration, with the final position eliminations based on the position’s connection to the furthering of Hesston’s mission and new trajectory.
Peterson-Veatch and the forthcoming permanent leadership will inherit Vision 2025 and the expectation to execute it to its full potential.