Providing a firm foundation June 10, 2009
Director of foundation relations Lois Konyndyk receives the 2009 William Spoelhof Lifetime Achievement Award from President Gaylen Byker.
On Wednesday, June 10, director of foundation relations Lois Konyndyk became the eighth staff member in Calvin College history to be honored with the William Spoelhof Lifetime Achievement Award.
The award, named for former Calvin College president Dr. William Spoelhof, annually recognizes one staff member who best exemplifies the qualities of dedication, service and performance that marked Dr. Spoelhof’s lifelong affiliation with Calvin.
"I was stunned," said Konyndyk. "It (the award) is something I never expected. But an award named for Dr. Spoelhof is pretty precious; it means a lot."
Joy of working with great people
Konyndyk added that while she loves her job and the surprises it brings on a daily basis, working at Calvin for her is about the joy of working with great people: "All those grants wouldn't happen without our stellar faculty and staff."
When she joined development, she had already worked for 23 years as a professor in the Calvin English department. Altogether, Konyndyk, who began working at the college in 1967, has served Calvin for 42 years.
"She’s just a fabulous employee,” said Ken Erffmeyer, the college’s vice president for advancement. “She has contributed to Calvin in many, many ways.”
In her current role, Konyndyk oversees the grant-writing that funds much of the faculty research at Calvin.
More than $75 million in grants since 1992
"Lois is primarily responsible for raising the level of foundation fundraising to what it is today,” said Bob Berkhof, the senior associate to the president who worked with Konyndyk all throughout her development career. “When she came into the development office, we were going to great lengths to seek support from various foundations. Today, many of those foundations are coming to Calvin College to ask us to seek their support. Grants from foundations have risen meteorically under her supervision.”
In fact since 1992, Calvin has received more than $75 million in grants from foundations, corporations and government sources.
Erffmeyer said Konyndyk works very hard to stay connected to faculty and to match grant interests with faculty. Konyndyk also administrates named and endowed scholarships, scholarships that are donated by alumni and friends of Calvin. The program, which was formerly handled by several development staffers, also has seen significant growth under her supervision. Last year the college awarded 550 named scholarships worth $2.4 million to more than 1,200 Calvin students.
"In this down economy we have, she and her staff have added 40 new scholarships this year,” Erffmeyer said. “I think that Lois has a very good work ethic and just generally loves the students. Anything that’s in the students’ best interests, she wants to support that.”
Special fondness for scholarship program
Konyndyk confessed to a special fondness for the scholarship program: “Grants, we get maybe one out of three, but every scholarship is a home run.”
The awards are crucial to keeping Calvin affordable for a whole range of students, and she enjoys seeing how the scholarships enrich students’ lives: “I’m always moved by how much it helps them on their way,” she said.
Almost 20 years after trading teaching for fundraising, Konyndyk remains committed to, and passionate about, the work of development:
"Everything we can raise funds for—and that can be programs, scholarships, facilities like the Bunker Center, research—is something that students don’t have to pay for. Students get the benefit from great programs and great facilities and then go out and make their mark on the world. How can I not get excited about that?”
~by Myrna Anderson, communications and marketing