After what she describes as a year of searching, reflection and prayer, Judy Hiebert has announced her intention to resign as vice president for student development at Tabor College June 30.
“President (Larry) Nikkel has been very supportive of my year-long process of reaching this decision,” Hiebert said.
Hiebert’s plans are uncertain at this time, but she said she hopes to spend more time at home.
Nikkel affirmed Hiebert for the way she interacted with students throughout her career.
“Judy’s contribution to the well-being of our students is incalculable,” he said. “Her job required her to set and enforce limits which require care and confrontation, and which often put her in a position where she could not share all of the truth. She handled these situations as a true professional.”
After devoting 24 years to Tabor, Hiebert said she was ready for a change.
Hiebert received her bachelor’s degree from Tabor and then taught and coached at the high-school level for five years. She then returned to Tabor and was employed as an associate in advancement for one year.
Hiebert’s career in student development began when she was Tabor’s director of counseling and co-director of career development and learning skills assistant from 1981 to 1982. She was the director of the Learning Center-while obtaining her master’s degree from Emporia State University-then was the director of counseling and of personal counseling from 1985 to 1987.
For eight years, she served as the associate dean of student development and director of personal counseling. In 1995, she assumed her current position.
“I still don’t see this as a prestigious position,” Hiebert said. “It has just been an opportunity to impact students’ lives. It was never my goal to be a vice president. I just wanted to work with students.”
As she worked with hundreds of students each year, she said she was thankful for many things, “knowing that, at times, my work and/or words have made a difference in helping a student succeed and see more clearly God’s plan for them.”
Although she comes in contact with many students, Hiebert treasures the opportunities to enrich and change individual lives, regardless of the circumstances.
“Many people think discipline is the worst part of this job,” she said. “But my belief has always been (that) every discipline situation is an opportunity.
“Getting to see students grow and mature in their faith and relationships has been rewarding. Having a student call me five years after I gave him one of my Bibles and say he now knows Jesus-I just cry.”
The photos on her wall pictures are reminders of the impact she has had on students over the years.
“I am humbled for the opportunities I have had,” Hiebert said. “Students have blessed my life.”
Serving as vice president for student development has allowed her to take students who have blessed her and use them to bless others. Hiebert organized the first service day where freshman, as part of their orientation, participate in service projects locally and as far away as Wichita.
“I had seen service be an integral part of Tabor,” Hiebert said, “and wanted our new students to experience that in their first 24 hours on campus.
“I always said, ‘I wish we could afford to take our students to Wichita.’ Vernon Wiebe (owner of Prudent Tours, now deceased) walked in my office one day and said he’d try to help me get a good deal on some Kincaid Coaches.
Well, the rest is history; we have been traveling to Wichita ever since. I know that many people have been the recipients of the service of our students.”
Other milestones happened during her tenure.
Dakota Hall, a men’s residence facility, was built and dedicated in 1998. Several residential houses were added and counseling services were started.
“The personal counsel and mentoring that Judy has provided for dozens of students literally set them on the right path,” Nikkel said. “She should be filled with a deep sense of satisfaction for what she has been able to accomplish here.
“Certainly we have been blessed.”
Hiebert said she did not come this far alone. Her staff, other Tabor employees and those who regularly have prayed for have helped her grow in many ways.
“I can’t image working in another job where I would have grown as much as I did here,” Hiebert said. “Tabor has been a great place to work. The support I have received through times of changing roles, grief and challenge make Tabor a very unique community. For all of this, I am thankful.”