The Converse family name is a familiar one at Marymount University’s campus, especially for anyone who has frequented the institution’s athletic facilities in recent years. But the namesake of the Marymount Saints fieldhouse and sports complex is far from the only mark they have left on the University.
This past July, Peter Converse began his term as Chair of Marymount’s Board of Trustees, at the helm of a 31-member group which provides leadership, support and general oversight of the University’s operations. He succeeded Dr. Edward Bersoff, the outgoing Board Chair who served in the position for the previous six years.
Converse, who has been a member of Marymount’s Board since October 2019, has several key goals that he hopes to see accomplished during his term as Chair. These include ‘meaningful and continued progress’ in enrollment growth, national rankings, program accreditation, financial strength, fundraising and research funding to further enhance Marymount’s overall prestige as a premiere institution of higher learning.
“As a native Virginian who has lived and worked in Arlington for many years, I’m very proud of Marymount’s uniqueness as Virginia’s only Catholic university and the only university headquartered in Arlington,” Converse explained. “More importantly, Marymount stands out as a tight-knit, diversity-oriented institution with a strong liberal arts foundation, yet an impressive and innovative array of undergraduate and graduate programs. And it is clearly focused on the overall educational, professional and personal growth of its students in its mission pursuit of ‘Learn with Purpose.’”
“Peter’s leadership as Chair of Marymount’s Board of Trustees will be instrumental in steering our University towards a thriving future,” added Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University. “His unwavering commitment to our mission reflects his dedication to advancing Marymount’s academic excellence. We are fortunate to have a leader who not only values the unique aspects of our institution but also actively contributes to its growth and success.”
Despite the inherent challenges of operating in an increasingly competitive higher education environment, Converse is excited to help Marymount accomplish goals laid out in the University’s Strategic Plan, Momentum. These include gaining greater exposure to a broader group of students geographically, maintaining and improving upon national rankings, recruiting and maintaining a talented and dedicated team of faculty and staff who are committed to providing and supporting excellence in the academic experience, and establishing and sustaining a strong and evolving financial foundation.
“Considering the special academic and core value features of a Marymount education and the many challenges to its progress that it faces as a smaller institution in a very competitive arena, I felt my involvement could have a positive impact at some meaningful level,” Converse said. “I want to be part of a local institution of higher learning with the core values of intellectual curiosity, service to others and having a global perspective that I value and share.”
Converse retired in 2014 after 40 years as a community banker in the national capital region. He spent the last 20 years of his banking career as President and CEO of Arlington-based Virginia Commerce Bank. During that tenure, he was actively engaged in the Northern Virginia community, serving on a number of boards including at Virginia Hospital Center and the Arlington and Fairfax Chambers of Commerce.
He is a current director on the boards of United Bankshares, Inc. (UBSI) and United Bank, as well as various committees that include USBI’s Executive Committee. He is also a trustee on the board of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges.
Converse and his wife, Susan, are longtime residents of Arlington and neighbors of Marymount. Although not alumni, they are ardent supporters who have developed a strong commitment to the ideals and future success of the University. As a result of their generous support, the Main Campus fieldhouse and sports complex were named after the Converse family.
“As my donor support has largely been oriented towards athletics, it is my hope that this support will contribute to the enhancement of Marymount’s athletics program and facilities, thereby helping recruiting and amplifying the sense of pride and overall collegiate experience of students and student-athletes,” Converse added.
Converse received his undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University and is a graduate of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking. He has two children, Cari and Alex, and three granddaughters – Madison, Mackenzie and Claire.