Messitte Leaves Ripon College

Messitte Leaves Ripon College

What are Messittee’s plans for after Ripon College and why leave now?

By Deana Johnson


Ripon College President Zach Messitte announced in an email late last month that this fall will be his last semester at Ripon College as he has new career opportunities he wishes to explore in Washington D.C. 


Messitte believes now is the right time for this transition: both for himself and for the college.


“According to the national average, the term of college presidents is about 7 years. I am proud of all the things we have accomplished over the 9+ years I’ve been here,” he said. “There is still much more to do, but I also think a fresh leadership perspective can also be helpful for the College. And my children, who grew up in Ripon, are now out of the house, so the timing is right both personally and professionally.”


Washington D.C. holds a special place in Messitte’s heart. “I grew up in DC, or just outside of the city, and it still feels like home. My parents and cousins live in the area and I have a lot of close friends from my first years after college when I was working in Washington.” 


Messitte, however, isn’t ready to say exactly what he’ll be doing after he moves.


“I am still going to be working in higher education, but in a different capacity. I am going to hold off on the details for now because my new employer has plans about how and when to announce my new position,” he said. “With any new job, I am both excited and a bit nervous.”


While anticipating the next chapter of his life, Messitte reflected on his time as Ripon’s 13th president.


“I think there is always a tendency to look back and wonder, ‘what if.’ I try not to do too much of that because I am not sure how helpful it is,” he said. “As the president of the college, my focus needs to be on the present and also what’s coming on the horizon, trying to anticipate how to be ahead of the curve. I’ve certainly made mistakes, and when I was able, I tried to correct them. But I’ve always tried my best to do what I thought was right for the college, even if it was difficult.”


Overall, Messitte wants students to remember that “I think that students do know how much the faculty and staff care about them, but it bears repeating. I’ve seen them — up close — go the extra ten miles for students, year-after-year. Our faculty spending hours writing comments on papers and designing shared research projects; our housekeepers cleaning up residence hall messes; our physical plant staff making sure the snow is plowed by dawn; our coaches helping their players through tough personal times, our health services staff taking care of sick students; our business and financial aid offices finding creative ways to make sure bills get paid; our food servers working overtime … I could go on, but you get the point. Ripon works because so many people care about doing a good job for our students.”


Check back Wednesday, Oct. 20 for a follow-up story as Messitte reflects on his time at Ripon College.


Throwback photo of President Messitte