From Provost Barker, appointed as Converse President during the 2021-2022 academic year, to the Converse Community (April 26, 2021)
Dear Converse Community:
Thank you for your continuing support of Converse.
I want to thank President Newkirk for her years of leadership. She has had the courage and conviction to lead us through dramatic changes that have made us a stronger institution. Congratulations to her on her wonderful new opportunity in California!
Sometimes people say that serving as president of a university during the search for the next president is all about keeping the wheels on the bus. That’s vital but it’s not enough. We also need to keep the bus moving forward in the right direction. Of course, keeping things moving forward means focusing on the full implementation of the Model Change, welcoming all of our new students and working with Dean Chandra Hopkins and the entire community on the implementation of the Women’s College within the university.
Moving forward also means:
- Continuing to develop and improve our academic programs and student life;
- Focusing tightly on undergraduate enrollment, both in recruiting new students and retaining our current students;
- Maintaining our momentum in fundraising;
- Continuing to control expenditures; and
- Building on our efforts and plans in diversity and inclusion.
These are areas where we have made substantial improvements in the past five years and where we need to continue to improve.
Our budgets will continue to be planned and monitored very carefully. Even with projected first year enrollment this fall, every tuition dollar is spoken for in our budget for the coming year, in part because we have budgeted to support the growth that we’ve seen and the growth that is coming. With all that we’ve done and are doing, however, if we keep things going in the right direction, we will have more resources in the future to make our university an even stronger place.
Our marketing consultants found out that almost everyone had the same answer when asked what is most important here—the education of our students. When you begin with that premise and when you have had the advantage of the excellent leadership of Krista Newkirk and the very strong administrative team she has built, plus the support of our faculty, staff, and students, our positive position is a welcome result.
It wasn’t inevitable. Success takes deliberate, systematic planning, focused implementation of plans, ongoing support from donors, and a commitment to mission from every part of the community. On all of these counts, Converse is in a good place. My task in the coming year is to help us stay on track and moving forward. I will need the entire community’s help—from all of you—and I thank you in advance for that help.