Being number two – President’s Perspective

Hesston College President Howard KeimIn August 2010, Hesston College was ranked the number 2 two-year college in the nation by Washington Monthly magazine. This recognition is an honor and a tribute to our faculty and the college as a whole.

The primary criteria for this recognition are graduation rates and student engagement, as measured by the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), used by more than 660 two-year colleges. The survey measures student perceptions in five categories that have been shown to correlate with student success – academic challenge, support for learners, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction and student effort. These ideas are all at the core of how we go about teaching at Hesston College, and this issue tells stories that help portray what our ranking is all about.

For the past several years, our faculty, led by Vice President of Academics Dr. Sandra Zerger, Dr. Nelson Kilmer, Bonnie Sowers and other division chairs, have made a deliberate effort to use the data from student surveys to improve teaching and learning. In addition, Student Life has become more engaged in helping students succeed academically. The number two ranking is, in part, a result of these efforts.

At Hesston College, we care a great deal about the content of our courses – that it is substantial, current in the discipline and in keeping with our mission and values. But we care just as much, and maybe more, about the relationship between faculty and students. This emphasis on the teaching and mentoring relationship is not new – it is part of the DNA of Hesston College. As I visit with alumni and current students, they tell stories of the investments of time and effort that faculty have made in their lives.

It should be noted that in the interest of economy of dollars and effort, Hesston College uses the CCSSE every three years, as part of a cycle of surveys used to measure and improve the quality of student learning and satisfaction. This means that we will not appear on the Washington Monthly list next year or the next. Please note that we will not have suddenly slipped in quality.

I am grateful to our faculty and staff who contributed to this achievement, and to all of our alumni and friends who support Hesston College. Our theme verse for 2010-11 seems especially appropriate: “Now to God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the Divine power that is at work with us, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21, adapted).