Dean of Innovation and Creativity leaving HC for new museum position

Chris Hochstetler, dean of innovation and creativity, will be leaving his position at Hastings College and starting as the Executive Director at Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer with his final official day scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 15.

Stuhr Museum is a “living history” museum located outside of Grand Island, Nebraska, featuring period attractions and buildings common to 1890s railroad towns that were erected in much of the midwest plains region. As the executive director, Hochstetler will be responsible for managing day to day operations of the museum and manage and expand programming for ground’s attractions. 

Hochstetler felt it necessary to move forward in order to find a position more closely related to his educational and professional experience, noting that the position created at HC is still somewhat unclear.

“I think we spent the better part of a year exploring what that (the position) could look like and never really arrived on super solid ground of definitive things…what this position could do,” Hochstetler said.

The dean of innovation and creativity position, according to Hochstetler, was a fluid position created through members of the HC Board of Trustees with aid from HC President Travis Feezell and senior administrators in order to explore ways in which the arts could become a catalyst for other academic areas to explore creative and innovative endeavors. 

“One of the things that HC wanted to establish with my position, I think, was just how far can you explore something like creativity and innovation, and can you actually have that as a thread of discussion probably through the entire campus, although my focus was predominately in the arts…it remains to be seen if I’ve fulfilled that,” Hochstetler said.

Hochstetler started at HC in late Fall 2018 in the position after working with HC that summer on an arts immersion program, a previous partnership with KANEKO, an arts institution in Omaha, Nebraska, that Hochstetler had worked for.

“When I left KANEKO, I was very familiar to Hastings College already; at least from that standpoint of being someone who worked in that creative, innovative realm. So, I think it was probably to them a natural fit for me to say ‘hey, would you come and try to establish this for us,” Hochstetler said.

Moving forward, Hochstetler feels he will be able to better serve in his new position at the Stuhr
Museum and says that HC, without him in his current role, is already making innovative and creative connections.