Vice President of Institutional Advancement Retires

Author: Carroll University

Published Date: 7/2/2020

Categories: Corporate and Foundation Funding F1RST Magazine F1RST Summer 2020 Faculty and Staff University News

Kathy and Stephen Kuhn

Stephen Kuhn and his wife, Kathy, have been fixtures at Carroll alumni events for the past 11 years. 

Stephen Kuhn is retiring this summer after an 11-year tenure as Carroll’s vice president for institutional advancement, but his presence on campus will be felt for years to come. Steve Kuhn began his time as the vice president of institutional advancement at Carroll University in February 2009. Upon Kuhn’s arrival in 2009, he re-tooled the advancement staff and soon began work on a $50 million campaign. Many members of the board of trustees were skeptical of a campaign that large—and actually thought it was impossible for Carroll.  

Then president of the university, Doug Hastad, recalled the size of the task. “(Kuhn’s) most important challenge as the vice president of advancement was to move the Carroll campaign to its goal of $50 million. This was a huge initiative for Carroll, one that would far surpass any previous capital campaign,” said Hastad. “Well, as most remember, this was the depth of the great financial recession, a time at which large donors were reluctant to make big gifts. Nonetheless, Steve trudged forward. When the dust settled a few years later, and the campaign was officially closed, he did not hit $50 million. Yes, he missed the target! Truth be told, he and his colleagues raised more than $52 million dollars in gifts and grants. This is a fine testament of his leadership.”

Campaign Carroll: The Common Thread was indeed the largest, most ambitious fundraising initiative in Carroll’s history. It did exceed its original target of $50 million—raising over $52.7 million from 7,533 donors, to support facilities, programs, endowment and operating needs.

“It is hard to sum up what Steve’s impact on Carroll has been,” said President Cindy Gnadinger. “Obviously, we can point to the fact that he led the most successful campaign in Carroll’s history. In addition, he helped to cultivate the largest single gift in Carroll’s history. These are not insignificant contributions.”

The Michael and Mary Jaharis Science Laboratories marked two significant firsts for Carroll.  It was the first new academic building constructed in over 50 years and most importantly, it was the first all-gift/grant building in Carroll’s history. 

While the Jaharis Science Laboratories and Prairie Springs Environmental Education Center were two of the most recent and largest projects during his tenure, there have been over 65 construction projects and dedication of new spaces, including the Crofts Morava Pavilion, Doug and Nancy Hastad Hall, the renovation of Rankin Hall, Richard Smart House and Shirley Hilger Hall, amongst others.

Gnadinger added that Kuhn’s impact extended beyond the fundraising. “Steve has been a valuable member of our senior leadership team,” she said. “He has decades of experience in higher education and those experiences have enriched our discussions and assisted the senior team at times when we have had to make difficult decisions. His wisdom will be missed.

“Additionally, I am grateful for Steve for helping to orient me to Carroll three years ago when I was named president. He has been extremely supportive to me in making outreach and introducing me to many of our wonderful alumni.  We have traveled together across the country for alumni events, and for all these years, his wife Kathy has been part of those events. She has been a true partner in his work at Carroll. John and I will certainly miss them and I know for a fact they will be missed by many in our extended Carroll family.”

Kuhn said he had been thinking of the timing of his retirement for a while. “For me, it was always a question of best timing to benefit Carroll,” he said. “With a comprehensive campaign in the making to support a new and essential strategic plan, it was important to me that Carroll—and Cindy, have the best advancement team available for the duration of a lengthy campaign.”

Learn more about Kuhn's successor, Victoria Dowling >

Kuhn said he was proud of his team’s accomplishments in strengthening alumni engagement, building programming and fundraising—for the Common Thread campaign, the general endowment and other initiatives. “However,” he added, “none of this was even conceivable without the very generous support of many, many donors. Carroll constituents—alumni, parents, friends, foundations and corporations—have stepped up big-time for Carroll’s strategic initiatives. And they will continue to do so into the future.”


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