- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Students at Morningside College in Sioux City are set to help a professor shave off his 40-year-old beard amid his battle with esophageal cancer.

The Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/1NehGxa ) reports Mark Heistad will have students cut off most of his chest-length beard with scissors Thursday afternoon before a professional barber shaves the rest. According to Heistad, publicly removing the beard is a way to celebrate the trademark by which students identify him as “the old guy that’s totally out of date.”

Heistad says, “Rather than have it go quietly, I suggested to my students we make an event out of it, so I put it in their hands.”

The associate professor of mass communication and adviser for the college’s student radio station is parting ways with his beard due to treatment for his recent cancer diagnosis, including a December surgery to replace his esophagus.

Heistad says, “For me to worry or feel helpless is not going to do me any good, and it certainly won’t do my students any good (for me) to be in that mindset.”

Heistad says he started growing the beard 40 years ago as part of a challenge with his older brother and decided to keep it as he worked in public radio and then while he was a graduate student and college instructor. Once the beard is gone, the professor will see his entire face for the first time since high school.

According to Mass communication department chair Dave Madsen, the way the professor has dealt with his illness has been refreshing.

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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