Presidential Search FAQ’s

On April 26, 2021, Krista L. Newkirk announced that she will be stepping down as President of Converse College, effective July 5, 2021. She has served as the 10th President of Converse College since July 1, 2016.

President Newkirk originally requested that her tenure at Converse end on June 30, at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. In their April 2021 board meeting, the Converse Board of Trustees unanimously requested and voted to accept her resignation effective July 5 to honor President Newkirk as the first President of Converse University. This vote by the Board of Trustees was in gratitude of President Newkirk’s dynamic and visionary leadership during a period of transformational change for the institution, and in support of her career decision. Converse College will become Converse University effective July 1, 2021.

Who will be serving as President next year?

Converse Provost Dr. Jeff Barker delayed his previously announced retirement in order to serve as President of Converse during the 2021-2022 academic year while a nationwide search is conducted. President Barker passed away on July 21, 2021. On July 22, 2021, Boone J. Hopkins, Ph.D was appointed Interim President of Converse University.

How will the next President be selected?

A nationwide search for the next President of Converse University has started. It is an inclusive process conducted by a search committee to be named. 

Who will be involved in the selection process?

The Converse Board of Trustees Chair Sandra Shearouse Morelli ’78 and the Converse Board of Trustees have appointed a search committee. See the June 2, 2021 update for a list of committee members. The committee includes representatives from the Converse Board of Trustees, Converse students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as community members. Kimberly Varnadoe Kent ’97 and Laura Chappell Bauknight ’87 will serve as co-chairs of our 2021-22 Presidential Search Committee. A search firm will also be retained to help with the search.

When will the selection process begin?

The process began in the summer of 2021.

What is the timeline for the selection of a new President?

The anticipated timeline is that the search committee will select a new President for the 2022-2023 academic year.

How will we be kept informed of the process and progress of the search committee?

This webpage will provide updates on the search process and progress for Converse’s next President. A search firm has been selected to help with the search. The search committee will seek input and guidance from a wide and diverse group of stakeholders. 

How will Converse include diversity, equity, and inclusion in the selection process? 

The search committee will conduct this process with care and wisdom and will ensure that the work of our strategic model change and progress towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive Converse will continue with the new President. The search committee will ensure that this will be one of the priority criteria for selection.

What does this mean for the model change?

The four committees that have been busy since the February 2020 announcement that our undergraduate cohort would be co-educational will continue the work of the model change. The committees are: Classroom Experience; Alumni, Donor, and Community Relations; Enrollment and Marketing; and Student Experience. These committees are comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and community members who are all involved in charting the best path forward for the future. 

For more information on the progress of the model change committees, click here.

What does this mean for the name change?

It will not impact the name change. Converse College will become Converse University effective July 1, 2021.

Why is President Newkirk leaving Converse?

President Newkirk will become the 12th President of the University of Redlands. President Newkirk saw the potential for positive and impactful change at Redlands, and the presidency at Redlands was an opportunity that came at the right time in the progression of her career as a college President as well as was the right decision for her and her family. In addition, she believed that this was the appropriate time for new leadership to take our beloved Converse even further. 

President Newkirk’s leadership and innovation has led Converse from a regional single-gender college to an internationally recognized co-educational university.  With the work that has been done and the achievements of the last five years, the College has positive momentum and a strong foundation for the academic advancement and organizational strength of Converse for both today and for future generations.

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