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Oak Hills Christian College: New president to be inaugurated

Steve Hostetter became the new president of Oak Hills Christian College this summer. His inauguration will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at Evangelical Covenant Church of Bemidji. Pioneer Photo/Michelle Bedard

As Steve Hostetter starts his first year as president of Oak Hills Christian College, he sees a great future for the college and other Oak Hills ministries.

"It's exciting because Oak Hills has a great history and legacy in this region," he said. "To be part of that is exciting and an honor and a privilege."

Hostetter began the position of president of Oak Hills July 1. In the past three years, he has served as the college's dean of education, provost and, most recently, interim president.

Hostetter will be inaugurated at 3 p.m. Sunday at Evangelical Covenant Church of Bemidji. A reception will follow. The public is welcome to attend the inauguration and reception.

The college, located on the shores of Lake Marquette south of Bemidji, offers students one-, two- and four-year academic programs. Oak Hills also encompasses Camp Oak Hills and the Center for Indian Ministries.

Hostetter said his goals for the future of the college include strengthening and increasing enrollment, exploring the possibility of developing a master's program and increasing programs in ways such as adding distance education, particularly online education.

"We just recently got approval to participate in PSEO," Hostetter added.

The Post Secondary Enrollment Options program gives high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to enroll in college classes and receive credit toward completion of high school as well as credit for college. Under the program, the cost of college credit is paid by the state of Minnesota.

Hostetter said the college expects high school students to begin taking classes at Oak Hills through PSEO during spring semester.

This fall, the college has started a children's ministry program. Also, Oak Hills is working on starting a small business administration program.

Hostetter said the Minnesota Office of Higher Education has approved the small business administration program. Oak Hills is waiting for approval from the accreditation agency prior to full implementation. The George W. Neilson Foundation gave Oak Hills a $25,000 grant for the development of the program.

This year, Hostetter said the college will also offer "modules," half-credit, one-and-a-half-day classes with topics ranging from personal finances to a world religions field trip.

All students will sign up for one module in the fall and one in the spring. Modules also will be open to community members for audit or credit.

Hostetter said a long-term goal is for Oak Hills to address the cost of education so students graduate with minimum debt, and the college is seeking funding sources to help.

Also on campus, Oak Hills is implementing a student information system that allows all the college's departments to operate from one database. Hostetter said the new system will save administration time, automate some systems and give students a chance to do a variety of tasks online, including registering for classes and checking their grades.

Off campus, Oak Hills is preparing the former Mokahum Indian Bible School in Cass Lake to become the Mokahum Ministry Center. The Christian and Missionary Alliance gave Oak Hills the property for Oak Hills to reopen it as a ministry center. Mokahum will provide mentoring, biblical education and training in both ministry and life skills with the goal of preparing American Indian Christians to be leaders in their churches and communities.

Hostetter said Oak Hills plans to expand its Center for Indian Ministries by expanding its personnel base. It recently hired Zane Williams to be the center's director. Williams is overseeing the start-up of the Mokahum Ministry Center.

Oak Hills also plans to restart Camp Oak Hills by offering youth and family camps next summer. Oaks Hills has not operated the 180-acre camp for more than 25 years. Meanwhile, it has leased the camp out to other organizations.

Hostetter said the long-term goal for Camp Oak Hills is for it to become a year-round camp.