Converse Taps Leader to Expand Engagement and Investment in College
Converse College announces that Robert C. Stewart will join the senior management team as vice president for institutional advancement, with a primary focus on building investment and partnerships that drive forward strategic goals of the college. Stewart is currently vice president for advancement and chief operating officer at Pfieffer University in Misenheimer, N.C. He will begin his duties at Converse on Aug. 9.
“Bobby joins Converse at an exciting and pivotal time as we launch projects that will significantly distinguish student life, including a new first-year experience within historic housing facilities here on campus and an athletics master plan to grow our program offerings and expand facilities,” said Converse President Betsy Fleming.
“Converse is reaping the gains of an unstoppable ‘can-do’ spirit. Together with alumnae and friends, we surmounted one of the toughest economic periods in decades with advances such as our new apartment housing and LEED-certified renovation of Kuhn Hall. This fall, we anticipate our greatest number of first-year students in more than a decade, and the momentum does not stop there. As we implement the next steps of our strategic plan, Bobby’s leadership will be instrumental in expanding investment in Converse – through financial gifts, through tapping the talents and expertise within our constituents, and through active partnerships within the greater Spartanburg community.
Stewart, a native of Greenwood, S.C., earned a B.A. from Wake Forest and a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law. He joined Pfeiffer University in 2004 as assistant men’s basketball coach and assumed the role of director of athletics following the first season. He served as special assistant to the president before being appointed to lead the advancement division. At Pfeiffer, he developed a diverse staff into high-performing working groups, expanded investment in the institution, established innovative partnerships with corporations, businesses and foundations, and managed a portfolio of high-level donors.
“I believe my greatest strengths lie in my ability to enhance team dynamics and effectiveness as well as to develop those around me to meet and exceed their potential,” Stewart said. “At my core I am a coach, and I spend every day of my life coaching others. My greatest successes are actually not my own but are the results of people I have been honored to mentor and help develop.”
The decision to join the Converse community felt right to Stewart for several reasons. “I am blessed to have had four tremendous women in my life who have shaped me into the person I am today, and all four of these women attended single-gender institutions – including one at Converse,” he said. “As I considered this opportunity I became increasingly excited about being part of an institution where the commitment to excellence is palpable. Converse is a place that exudes academic distinction, produces incredible student outcomes and has an extraordinary sense of community. Our nation has only a handful of institutions that really define people, and Converse is one of them.”
Stewart’s wife, LaClaire, is a native of Charleston and will be joining Greenville Hospital System as a pediatrician. “From a family perspective, it is wonderful to return to this area where my wife and I will be near our families.”
Stewart will join Converse alumna Cathy Inabnit, who has served as vice president for institutional advancement since 2007 and is transitioning to associate vice president for development, in leading the advancement division. Inabnit has led efforts to raise nearly $40 million in gifts and commitments and has significantly expanded leadership giving at Converse. She previously served as director of regional development at Georgia Tech, enjoying a 25-year career there before returning to her alma mater.
“This transition is ideal in that Converse will be able to maximize the complementary strengths that Bobby and Cathy bring to our advancement division,” said Fleming. “Cathy has done a tremendous job of building relationships and expanding our base of leadership-level donors. As she turns her full focus to this area, Converse is well-positioned to meet our ambitious goals ahead.”