New Presidents Meet Mentors, Prepare for New Role

August 02, 2012
Eric Hoekstra (right), new president of Dordt College, with his new mentor Robin Baker, president of George Fox University.
Eric Hoekstra (right), new president of Dordt College, with his new mentor Robin Baker, president of George Fox University.
Pete Menjares (right), new president of Fresno Pacific University, with his new mentor Ron Manahan, president of Grace College & Seminary.
Pete Menjares (right), new president of Fresno Pacific University, with his new mentor Ron Manahan, president of Grace College & Seminary.

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo.— Mountain Thunder Lodge in Breckenridge was once again the location for the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities annual New Presidents Institute. Eight new presidents joined eight mentor presidents July 7-10 for the Institute, which is designed for presidents in the first or second year of their presidency at a CCCU institution. Spouses also attended the Institute.

The New Presidents Institute offers new presidents the opportunity to develop professionally in their new role, learning best practices and considering the personal and spiritual aspects of the presidency. In addition to building personal and professional relationships with other new presidents, attendees also each met the experienced president who is serving as their mentor for the year following the Institute.

“As a new president, the encouragement, support, and words of wisdom from those who have gone before was invaluable to get off to a great start in office. Having other new presidents and spouses to build a professional network with was perhaps the highlight of the program. We built friends, colleagues, and prayer partners together with them which will sustain us in the years to come,” said Erik Hoekstra, president of Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.

He also noted that it was important to attend NPI with his spouse as they take up the work at Dordt together. “It was a beautiful thing to have program elements that we could share as a couple and elements for spouses only.  We returned to campus refreshed and with a greater understanding of how this job would challenge us, but also with a sense of the blessings and joys we're likely to experience as a family through serving in the role of president,” he said.

“Participating in the NPI was a wonderful way to begin my presidency,” said Pete Menjares, president of Fresno Pacific University in Fresno, Calif. “The collective experience and wisdom of the presenters was informative and on point for leadership in Christian colleges and universities. The leaders struck a good balance between the challenges and opportunities inherent in today's higher education climate, but I was particularly inspired by the emphasis on our kingdom imperative and call to spiritual leadership. The NPI was very beneficial, and I am looking forward to the mentoring experience with President Ron Manahan and the ongoing relationships with my fellow new presidents.”

Facilitators for the event were retiring CCCU President Paul Corts and CCCU Government Relations and Executive Programs Director Shapri LoMaglio. In addition to sessions focused on the ongoing mentor/mentee relationship, other presentations covered such topics as:

  • Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing: Leading the Institution Spiritually
  • Current Legal and Legislative Challenges Facing Higher Ed
  • The Role of the President in Academics
  • Enrollment: The Importance of Getting It Right Early
  • Finance: Budgetary Challenges & Opportunities
  • The CFI & Institutional Financial Health: Understanding Your Institution’s Financial Health and Communicating Financial Information to Your Board
  • The President & Fundraising: Characteristics of Success & Failure
  • Presidential Leadership for the Student Development Team

“Attending the CCCU NPI was a remarkable experience. I had the opportunity to daily interact with veteran CCCU presidents and to develop a friendship with a presidential mentor that I believe will last a lifetime. If you are looking for wisdom from those who have already traveled the presidential path, you don’t want to miss the NPI,” said Robert Myers, president of Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa Falls, Ga.

“I am absolutely humbled and deeply appreciative of the mentoring program and the investment my mentor—already a busy president himself—is willing to make in me for the good of God's Kingdom in higher education,” Hoekstra noted. “The one-on-one time we were able to spend at the NPI got our relationship off to a great start of trust and open communication, and the accountability of the CCCU program will ensure that this relationship flourishes in the year ahead. Simply knowing that I have a wise, confidential, and trusted friend to guide me over the rough spots, to warn me of dangers ahead, and to encourage and celebrate with me when things go well is a wonderful blessing as a new president.”


About the CCCU:  The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 170 intentionally Christ-centered institutions around the world. The 116 member campuses in North America are all fully-accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. In addition, 54 affiliate campuses from 18 countries are part of the CCCU. The Council’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. Visit