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BVU Vice President of Institutional Advancement Will Retire at Semester

Kylee Deering, News Editor

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Buena Vista University’s (BVU) Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Ken Converse, is retiring, effective December 31. Converse has served the university for 23 years. He started in 1995 as the Director of Development, and in 2000 was promoted to Vice President.

During Converse’s tenure, BVU has raised close to $100 million in support of annual, endowed and capital projects. President Joshua Merchant wrote in an email to faculty and staff that “a couple of his most notable accomplishments include the campaigns for the $27 million Estelle Siebens Science Center and the $30 million ‘See Tomorrow Campaign,’ which raised money for Peterson Field, endowed scholarships, faculty chairs, and a variety of other projects.”

Though the announcement to campus came with just over a month left in Converse’s BVU career, he says that retiring at the end of the semester just seemed like the right time for him and his family. He noted that BVU has been wrapping up a campaign for remodeling the Forum and that just seemed like a clean break for him. Converse said that he and his wife, Karna, have also been talking about the decision for awhile. They don’t have kids at home anymore and thought it was a good time to do some traveling and try new things.

After retiring, Converse plans to take a couple of months to travel in the U.S., primarily south and west with his wife. In the spring, he’ll be placed to serve an interim position as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement of colleges and universities that need that. He said those positions are typically six to 12-month engagements and Converse’ wife will be able to go with him. They plan to keep their house in Storm Lake but use the opportunity to see and experience different parts of the country.

Converse shared that after 20-plus years at the university, working with the people of BVU will always be his favorite memory.

“This is a very special place,” Converse said. “I think we do a really good job of giving students opportunities to spread their wings and grow. And I’ve enjoyed working with the faculty and staff to help make that possible financially. We’ve raised a lot of money as institution, and I played a small part in that and that makes me feel really good.”

Converse also said that his years at BVU have not been without challenge. The hardest moment at BVU for him was the financial crisis of 2008. He said that hurt endowment, and it was a difficult time from a fundraising standpoint.

Mostly, Converse says that he hopes that he leaves BVU a better place than when he came in 1995.

“Together as a team, as an institution, we’ve been able to enhance the facilities, build some new facilities, and grow the endowment to support the students into the future,” he said.

Converse will miss the people at BVU the most when he retires. He’s also learned from his time at BVU that people matter.

“Whether it’s employees, donors, or students, getting the right group of people together is critically important to success,” Converse said. “And so that means getting the right people together here to work on projects, getting the right donors together to work on a particular funding initiative. It just means getting the right people involved.”

Converse says he and Karna wish BVU students, faculty and staff all the best after he leaves.

Merchant indicated that interim and long-term planning for Converse’s position will begin soon.

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BVU Vice President of Institutional Advancement Will Retire at Semester