Fischer named Tabor student dean

Thirteen days before student teachers arrived, 17 days before resident assistants arrived and a mere 24 days before the rest of the student body arrives, a new dean of student development grabbed the reins at Tabor College.

James Fischer began working in the student development office Aug. 1-less than a month from the start date of classes at Tabor.

“At this point, coming in so late in the year, hitting the ground running is to just get things rolling,” Fischer said. “But, my intention is to come in with a fresh pair of eyes and ears, a fresh experience and to review everything we’re doing.”

Fischer, wife Peggy and their three children, Hannah, 16, Joel, 13 and Luke, 10, moved to Hillsboro from Mishawaka, Ind., where Fischer was director of counseling services at Bethel College for nine years. He also ran a private practice of clinical psychology.

“Dr. Fischer’s experience in a successful student development program, along with his energy and creativity, will serve him well in this position,” said Howard Keim, vice president of academics and student development at Tabor. “I am confident he will help our student development program grow in new directions in the future.”

Fischer earned a doctorate in psychology from George Fox University, where he graduated magna cum laude. He received his master’s degree from Western Seminary, Portland, Ore., and earned his bachelor’s degree from Cedarville College, Cedarville, Ohio.

After about 20 years of work in the psychology field, Fischer said he and his wife had been seeking whether they should leave the private practice of clinical psychology and move into Christian higher education.

He said Kansas initially was not at the top of his list, he identified with the Tabor College mission and said it is a good fit.

“Tabor is the kind of place I want to be-we’re about educating the whole person,” he said. “We’re about developing, not just minds, but we’re about developing character. We’re about developing the next generation of leaders.”

In addition to connecting with the Tabor mission, Fischer said he sees many similarities between the Mennonite Brethren denomination and the denomination of Bethel College in Mishawaka-Missionary Church USA.

“There are some distinctives, (but) their vision and their mission is really quite similar,” he said.

Fischer was born and raised in the missionary field in Taiwan, where his family was involved in church planting. They returned to the United States when he was 17.

He said the combination of Eastern and Western culture helped develop his character.

“I think the strengths that some of the experiences gave me and the cross-cultural experience plays itself out in a lot of ways, “Fischer said. “Understanding and fitting into a wide variety of places broadens your perspective.”

Fischer expects that perspective to help him reaching his goal of developing a more student-centered student development office.

“What I want to do is continue to extend the heritage Tabor has in developing people who are well-educated, well-trained, love God and love others,” he said.

“Some of the things that I would like to see us be as a college is to be student-centered and what I think that means is trying to understand education from this generation’s perspective and to respond to this generation’s needs.”

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