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Messer named future leader in Kansas higher ed

April 16th, 2018

TOPEKA, KAN. – The Kansas Independent College Association (KICA) announced the selection of 20 Kansas college faculty members who have been identified as the future leaders of Kansas higher education.

Bethel College’s Rachel Messer, assistant professor of psychology, was named to the list.

Together these 20 comprise the second class of participants in KICA’s Aspiring Campus Leaders Academy, the outgrowth of several years of conversation about the lack of high-quality training opportunities targeted to those in academics at smaller, private colleges.

KICA partners with Credo Higher Ed in the Aspiring Campus Leaders Academy. Credo is known for its consulting work with colleges and universities across the country, and sees the KICAC Leaders Academy as a model for several other states.

In addition to content that Credo provides, KICA will coordinate and present more than a dozen supplemental learning opportunities focused “tactical” tools such as budgeting, governance, data trends, hiring, faculty evaluation tools and more.

“At Kansas’ independent colleges, we know that our most important job by far is to provide a vibrant, relevant, high-quality education to each and every student that enters our doors,” said Matt Lindsey, KICA president. “To invest in the future leadership of our member institutions is to invest in their students, and our communities as a whole.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to network and learn from other KICA members,” Messer said. “I’m looking forward to gaining new insights into how to best contribute to the strong tradition of excellence at Bethel, and appreciate the support from my colleagues regarding my nomination for this program.”

The complete 2018 class of the KICA Aspiring Campus Leaders Academy is:

Benedictine College, Atchison – Bill Buron, director of nursing

Bethany College, Lindsborg – Eleanor Heimbaugh, assistant professor of art, and Gretchen Norland, education department chair

Bethel College, North Newton – Rachel Messer, assistant professor of psychology

Central Christian College of Kansas, McPherson – Cathy Brown, education department chair

Donnelly College, Kansas City – Lisa Stoothoff, director of the developmental education program

Friends University, Wichita – Susan Dutcher, program director for the MS in marriage and family therapy

Hesston College – Amy Birdsell, aviation department chair, and Heidi Hochstetler, director of the ACCESS Library

Kansas Wesleyan University, Salina – Andrew Bedrous, behavioral sciences and human services department chair

Manhattan Christian College – Brian Medaris, director of the Christian service program

MidAmerica Nazarene University, Olathe – Jacob Lett, assistant professor of theology, and Abby Hodges, associate professor of chemistry

Newman University, Wichita – Ryan Huschka, professor of chemistry

Ottawa University – Steve Boese, lead faculty for the biology program, and Andy Hazucha, lead faculty for the English major

Southwestern College, Winfield – Tamara J. McEwen, associate professor of biology

Sterling College – Jonathan Conard, natural sciences and mathematics department chair, and Daniel Julich, honors program director and social sciences department chair

University of St. Mary, Leavenworth – Gwen Landever, chair of the education programs

The academy kicks off with a two-day training in Lawrence in May. The Academy is sponsored in part by IMA, Inc., EMPOWER Student Information Systems and Spelman Johnson.

Located in Topeka, KICA develops and enhances the competitive standing of its 19 member independent, nonprofit, regionally accredited, degree-granting colleges and universities and strives to assure opportunity and choice in higher education for all students.

KICA was founded in 1976 and is a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit Kansas corporation. For more information on the Aspiring Campus Leader Academy or KICA, contact Jesyca Hope, 785-235-9877 or

Bethel College ranks at No. 1 in College Consensus’ ranking of Kansas colleges and universities, and is the only Kansas private college listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2017-18. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.