HESSTON, Kansas (Hesston College / Mennonite Education Agency) — The Hesston College (Kansas) Board of Directors, following a unanimous vote by those at its October meeting, announces Dr. Joseph Manickam as its candidate of choice to become the ninth president of Hesston College.
“Dr. Manickam is creative, imaginative and is a visionary,” says Kelvin Friesen, chair of the Hesston College board. “He is a proven leader who is encouraging, team-oriented and empowering. We are in an era of adaptive change, and we believe the experience and qualities Dr. Manickam brings will serve well in leading Hesston College during this time.”
Dr. Manickam is currently director of the Institute of Religion, Culture and Peace and faculty for peace studies at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand—the same city in which he served the previous three years with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada as director of the Central-Southern and Northeast Asia Program. Before his move to Thailand he was director of the MCC Asia Program and associate director of the Center for Anabaptist Leadership in California.
“As I have traveled around the world, I have become increasingly persuaded of the vital role a Mennonite education must play in shaping our world,” Dr. Manickam said. “It is my hope and dream that Hesston College will continue to be that place where students, staff and faculty are continually molded toward Christ’s Love.”
An alumnus of Hesston College, he also spent five years as associate director of admissions there early in his career.
“He was the strong consensus choice by the search committee because he is a deeply committed Anabaptist, in addition to having a strong track record as an innovative and collaborative leader,” search committee chair and Hesston College board vice chair Ken G Kabira said. “Dr. Manickam brings unmatched global and cross-cultural competencies to the role. He has personally experienced the transformative Christ-centered education at Hesston College and has a deep love for the institution.”
The decision came after 10 months of a “careful and intentional process of recruitment and discernment, prayerfully vetting candidates through their strengths, fit and motivation,” Kabira said. “The Lord has always led the right kind of leader at the right time to Hesston College in its century-plus history.”
Dr. Manickam will be formally introduced to the Hesston College community when he visits the campus Nov. 7-8. The search committee will gather feedback during the visit and make a final recommendation to the Hesston College board and to the board of Mennonite Education Agency (MEA).
“The search committee has followed a rigorous and very thoughtful process,” MEA executive director Carlos Romero said. “As Dr. Manickam is announced as the candidate of choice, we look forward to the next steps, which will include the candidate spending several days on campus to interact with the Hesston College community. I believe we all look forward to the successful completion of the process and the appointment of the ninth president.”
Dr. Manickam earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in intercultural studies from Fuller Seminary in California, his bachelor’s degree in communications from Goshen College (Indiana) and an associate’s degree in automotive technology from Hesston in 1987. He did his early schooling in India and Thailand before graduating from Hoover High School in North Canton, Ohio.
His doctoral dissertation focused on “A Study of Race, Culture and Ethnicity in the Mennonite Church, USA.” He has served on the boards of The Mennonite and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.
MEA Board chair Dr. Judy Miller called Manickam a “visionary leader, with proven administrative experience and a deep desire to serve Hesston College, the Mennonite Church and the broader community. His educational and life experience will serve the institution, its constituents and future students well.”
The search process is a joint effort of Hesston College’s board and the MEA Board of Directors. MEA, the education agency of Mennonite Church USA, supports six higher education institutions including Hesston and provides counsel and staff support in presidential transitions.
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Photo available: jmanickam.jpg