Looking back, looking forward – President’s perspective

Hesston College President Howard Keim

This issue of Hesston College Today previews the Centennial Celebration on campus in September of 2009, 100 years after the first group of students enrolled. It would not be possible to recount that history here. So many stories, and stories within stories, could be told, that Mary Miller, and now John Sharp have had great difficulty in distilling the many happenings into a narrative that does justice to the history of this place. Instead, I will share a few of the things that I am grateful for as President.

I am grateful for the faculty and staff who have gone before us who now serve in this place. Their call to service, dedication to excellence, and love of students are part of the culture of this place. The hours of serving students, day after day, year after year, have accumulated to a wonderful legacy now shown in students who serve in their vocations throughout the world.

When I gave a briefing of what I considered to be bad economic news to the faculty and staff in the fall of 2008, John Sharp reminded me that every president before me has also dealt with adversity, and many would be glad for the problems I had shared. I am grateful for the fine service of the presidents who came before me and the ways in which each one added what was needed at that time in the college’s history.

I am grateful for the students who have come through these halls. When we consider the impact of these students and the ripple effects of their service in many vocations and places in the world, we can only marvel that God has accomplished “far more than we could ever ask or imagine” through the ministry entrusted to us.

I am grateful for the motto, chosen in the 1920s, from the Gospel of John, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” We are an academic institution, grounded in the truth of scripture as we understand it, striving to experience and share the freedom of Christ.

And I am grateful for the privilege I have to serve in this place. I came as a student in 1970, and my life was marvelously enriched by my experience here. Tami and I returned in 1987 to teach, and we have both spent the greater part of our careers here. I am a steward of this office, not an owner. I serve the college and the church at the direction of our board. My passion, as it has been for all who have served before me, is to lead in a way that leaves the college better than it was before, in a better position to prepare students for service in the church and the world.

I close with gratefulness for our friend and colleague, Phil Richard, who entered eternal life on June 7, following a three year battle with cancer. His gentle spirit, writing skill, integrity in reporting, and spirit of service will be sorely missed. He and his wife Sandi were examples to us all in “fighting the good fight and keeping the faith” in these last years.