Remembering Bob Krause: A K-State legacyMike
|Bob Krause (right), former
longtime Kansas State University vice president for institutional
advancement, is pictured with his wife, Dr. Marty Vanier '79, '81. The
K-State family is saddened by the loss of Krause on Dec. 16. (Courtesy
The Kansas State University
family lost a true friend when Bob Krause died Dec. 16 in Manhattan. From 1986
through 2009, Bob served as K-State’s
vice president for
institutional advancement. Krause’s family asked family friend and Manhattan
writer Mike Matson to remember his life and career.
Why do we
call a university an "institution of higher learning"?
It’s a place
where human beings come to learn about themselves, their place in the world. A
place where people come to discover how best to use their God-given
By their very nature, institutions of higher learning are
vast and complex systems. Those privileged to work and represent such a system
tend generally to spend their time and energy in one particular part — and
only when taken together, do the parts equal the whole.
the individual is as dynamic and complex as success for the institution and does
not happen by accident. It’s the result of planning, execution, energy and
One can make a compelling argument that for a generation
at the first land grant university in the nation, Kansas State University in
Manhattan, Kansas, no one had more hands-on, direct, positive impact than Bob
Krause. The case can be made that for a generation, no one made a more tangible,
measureable difference in advancing K-State than Bob Krause.
he first arrived in Manhattan in 1986, he was new president Jon Wefald’s first
external hire. Wefald assigned Krause a monumental task. One that, quite
literally, held K-State’s future.
Faced with entirely too many
consecutive years of dwindling enrollment, K-State was sinking, in reputation
and perception. There was talk of bouncing the Wildcats from the Big 8. No one
likes a loser, whether on the gridiron or buried within the minutiae of the
Hearts and minds were on the line.
The Board of Regents hired Wefald to right the ship, and
Wefald hired Bob Krause to design and implement the plan.
recognized reversing the enrollment trend line was the key to any sort of
institutional advancement. If they didn’t get that right, nothing else would be
possible. So Wefald did what all good managers do. He brought in a subject
matter expert, an individual he knew well and trusted.
re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. He did the due diligence, identified
the problem, devised a plan, rolled up his sleeves, went below decks and patched
the hole. He righted the ship. Slowly, steadily, it floated back to the surface
and became a magnificent, proud, seaworthy vessel. Record numbers of people
boarded it, and their lives were made better because of it.
It was the
triumph of turning K-State from an enrollment decliner into an enrollment gainer
that set the stage for myriad successes that would follow, and Bob Krause’s
fingerprints were on all of them.
As vice president for institutional
advancement, Krause’s portfolio was vast and far-reaching. Think, for just a
minute, about the words, "Institutional Advancement."
The job was broad and far-reaching, on purpose.
There’s a lot of work wrapped up in it. It’s the job of an individual with a
very unique package of skills. The ability to bring the right people together.
The talent of keeping your eyes on the end game, and the gift of trusting those
around you — working as a team — to get you there.
before we thought in terms of “a brand” for the university, Bob Krause created
one for K-State.
As vice president for institutional
advancement, Krause’s job was just that — to advance the institution. That
meant forging and nurturing relationships across an entire horizon of groups and
factions who, in some way, touch K-State.
Student life, philanthropy,
athletics, elected officials at the national, state and local level, private
sector partnerships. Any individual or group with a vested interest in advancing
K-State, in making it better, in helping enhance the student experience was on
Bob Krause’s radar screen.
More than a fixer, trial balloon
floater, liaison and go-to guy — though he was all those things
— Krause not only represented the K-State administration in these circles,
he brought skill and savviness to every project he undertook.
Krause, there would be no "greatest turnaround in the history of college
He took risks. Not wild ones, but calculated ones, and only
after sizing up the players, the field, the conditions, to allow for the best
possible result for K-State. The record speaks for itself.
so good at the job, the successful K-State model of a high-level university
administrator devoted solely to institutional advancement has been emulated many
times at other universities across the United States.
K-State students whom he mentored and today span the globe remember how Bob
Krause helped them learn about themselves and taught them how to advance their
own causes and passions.
That’s the part of Bob that
Bob had another talent. The ability to recognize — that
even despite your job and broad portfolio — you’re still just one
individual within a vast, complex system.
Vast, complex systems are not
perfect. Circumstances and situations which are sometimes not pleasant come with
the territory. Egos, selective memories, personalities, grudges. Scratch a layer
or two beneath the surface of any institution of higher learning, and one will
find all the frailties that come with the human condition.
turned out to be the end of Bob’s career, K-State proved to be a system like any
other. Buffeted, influenced and driven by all the pressures that drive vast,
complex systems. Sometimes — despite a career’s worth of noble, virtuous
work — the system isolates an individual.
It doesn’t matter if
it’s not the complete picture, the entire truth. There is a greater good to
protect, the system says.
Those who knew Bob Krause and were
privileged to call him a friend understand innately what we lost. A truly gifted
administrator, a savvy and successful risk taker for all the right reasons, a
loving husband, father, grandfather, brother. A true mentor and loyal
Now that he’s gone from us, maybe there’s some higher
learning we can all gain about judging a human being for their gifts and their
Perhaps we can learn that remembering a man for the
entire breadth and depth of his life and professional career is decent,
honorable and befitting an institution of higher learning.
Krause’s loyalties, motivations and heart were pure — to a fault, as it
turned out. Only when taken together, do the parts equal the whole — the
entire view of a man’s life and professional calling.
K-State is a
better university because of Bob Krause. Manhattan is a better community because
of Bob Krause. Kansas is a better state because of Bob Krause.
of us who were privileged to call him a friend are better human beings because
of Bob Krause. Mike Matson is a writer in Manhattan. He
writes at http://www.mikematson.com/.