President’s Perspective: Our new normal

Dr. Joe ManickamSisters and brothers,

Since the last time I wrote this piece of welcome for you, the world as we knew it shifted dramatically. Perhaps “shift” doesn’t adequately describe the change. Life as we know it – for us on campus and for you, wherever you are – has been flipped on its head. Since March, we have each been trying to adjust our routines, understanding and expectations. We focus on finding a new normal only to find that the only guarantee of normal is a constant shift and resetting of what we knew before.

Coronavirus and the renewed energy given to issues of racial inequities in our society have brought a new reality to Hesston College and to the world. Yet we’re all learning to live in this reality together – not just as the Hesston College campus community, but as a global community. It’s rarely easy, and it’s rarely comfortable, but this kind of hard, uncomfortable work is what has the power to change us and help us grow.

At Hesston College particularly, over the last four months groups of faculty, staff and administrators have been having regular conversations and planning sessions as we work toward reassembling our community safely and responsibly while maintaining the important aspects of community and relationship that define the Hesston Experience.

In these pages, you can get a glimpse of how the last quarter of the 2019-20 year progressed, how we plan to welcome the campus community back for a new year and how some of our alumni were affected by and responded to the global crisis.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a truth that has helped to keep me focused and motivated is that we are united in our learning through this time. Likewise, with all the troubles and unknowns we are facing, God is among us. God is with us and present with us in everything we do.

That promise of God’s care and provision is also reflected in the theme verse we chose for the upcoming academic year. The passage of Exodus 16:4-6 comes from the story of God raining down manna (bread) from heaven. I believe these verses offer us a perspective into our faith that will be critical for carrying us through the coming year of both growth and unknowns.

We each have an incredible opportunity in front of us for change. COVID-19 has placed on us a new framework for home, work and church life. As our old normal breaks apart, might we take the time, energy and resources to go the extra mile and make changes in our lives, in our institution and in our churches to address our areas of weakness and find opportunities for transformation.

As we each reflect on where these unprecedented times might be opening doors to make an impact, I pray that you take care of yourself; take care of each other; be safe; be smart; be kind.


Dr. Joseph A. Manickam ’87, President