When Biff Green took over as president of Friends University in 1991, it had endowments of about $3 million.
When Green retires next year, Friends will have more than $53 million in endowments.
Green announced his retirement Monday. He will continue as Friends' president through the 2010-11 academic year to give the Board of Trustees a year to find a replacement.
"I've always told the board I'd give them a year's notice of my plans," Green said Monday. "Coming up on 20 years, I figured it's a good time to go out on top."
Enrollment has doubled to about 3,000 students during Green's tenure.
Green said the growth in endowments has helped Friends pull through the recession.
"One of the things we've tried to focus on is we have not looked at just how to get through year to year," he said. "Our focus has been on planned giving."
That includes Friends becoming a benefactor in trusts and wills, giving a chance to build endowed funds that keep paying each year.
"We're hoping as we look to our legacy, future leaders will look back and say 'job well done,' " Green said.
The growth from $3 million to $53 million counts only investment dollars, Green said, not land.
"Biff has led the university very diligently and thoughtfully," said board chairman Rodney Pitts, who will lead the search committee for the new president.
"He's always thinking through all aspects of his decisions. His strong values, high integrity and business acumen has been the basis of our financial stability," Pitts said in the statement released from the university.
Green, 64, moved his family here from Southern California and said he still hasn't gotten used to the Kansas winters.
"I still think if the sun's out it ought to be 70 degrees, then you go outside and it's like, whoa," he said in an interview with The Eagle.
Green and his wife, Binnie, planned to stay five years and then go back to California. He said they now plan to stay in Wichita, where he eventually plans to go back to the classroom, teaching leadership, management and strategic planning.
"Both our daughters married Kansas men and we have a 2-year-old grandson," Green said. "Now, it'd take dynamite to get us out of here."