President’s Perspective: A Function of Spirit

Dr. Joseph A. ManickamSisters and Brothers,

This fall semester’s Opening Weekend was unlike anything we’ve experienced before as a college. Move-in was spirited but guarded. New and returning students and their families were screened before being allowed on campus. Those students moved into single person dorm rooms with strict COVID protocols in place. Instead of costumes, the primary fashion accessory on display at Mod Olympics was masks.

I spoke on Friday evening of Opening Weekend. The campus community sat spread out across Sieber Field. I told the people gathered there that night that “we are Hesston College.” What I meant was that Hesston College is made up of its people, not its buildings or grounds. No matter how the dorms or dining room looked, Hesston College would go on because of its people.

This is where true resilience comes from. We bear each other up in the spirit of Christ-centered community. We extend grace from the first through to the last. We care like crazy. We hold ourselves and each other accountable. And we remember that we are strong so long as we hold to our sisters and brothers, both near and far away.

As Kalen Haynes ’19 suggests in his alumnus profile (page 8), Hesston College’s resilience is a function of its spirit. Whether you graduated in 1950 or 2020, the spirit remains the same. The physical campus could be open to all or shuttered completely, and we would endure. To be sure, there are things that can do harm to the spirit of a community. The pain and loss experienced by friends and family hurts us deeply. We pray for hope and healing for all those affected by COVID-19. The pandemic is cruel, but the bonds we share as sisters and brothers in Christ keep us going.

So we are Hesston College, and we are resilient. We have been resilient, and we will continue to be resilient as we navigate through challenges and opportunities, COVID-related or otherwise. And the good news is that as a member of the community, wherever you are you can draw on the strength of Hesston’s collective spirit, the root of which is Jesus Christ.

What I said on Opening Weekend in August remains true now: We are Hesston College, you and I. I hold you in my heart as you hold me—and all our community—in yours. Our love for each other as sisters and brothers in Christ keeps us resilient. As long as that love endures, so does the college. Thank you for the love you have for your community. It means the world.

Dr. Joseph A. Manickam ’87