Senior Managing Director, Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, L.P.
Knox Trustee, Vice Chair for Finance
By his own admission, Ralph Walter came to Knox College as a child in 1965,
but when he left in 1969, he left a man. "I had a solid experience where I really
got to blossom," Walter said, who since his days as an undergraduate math major, has become the chief operating officer and treasurer for Los Angeles-based brokerage firm Kayne Anderson Rudnick.
Walter credits his Knox experience for laying the foundation upon which he built his career. "I had the luxury of sitting at a desk for four years learning from guys like Rothwell Stevens, Rognvald Hourston, Bill Pillsbury, Bill Brady and Rod Davis," Walters said. "I became intellectually alive. Knox was a wonderful experience, because I learned to learn and that's become incredibly important to me in my professional career."
Walter maintained his Knox connection after graduation, initially by getting involved with his local Chicago Knox Club. Walter says it was his father who convinced him, graduation night, that he should begin paying back the debt of gratitude he'd incurred. "He said, 'You've had a great experience and now you owe Knox a lot. Now you need to support her,'" Walter remembers. "When I reached an appropriate point in my career it was time to help."
Walter began by serving on the Chicago Knox Club Board, then chaired the Annual Fund Steering Committee, and then became Alumni Council President during which he had a non-voting seat on the Board of Trustees. In January 1999, he became a General Trustee. Since becoming a trustee, Walter says he has witnessed a transformation in the Board. "I've been incredibly pleased and proud of what the Board has done in the last few years. It has taken on the challenge to modernize itself. The way the Board has taken control of the finances is satisfying work. We've done a lot to help set in motion the initiatives of the Renewed Knox. What was a financial problem has turned into an academic strength."
In a world fraught with corporate scandal and a shaky economy Walter says, "It's important that alumni understand that giving to Knox is a good investment. The college is not profligate; it uses its money very wisely. If we had more, we could use it even more wisely. The important thing is that the finances are under control, and the college is well managed."
There is more to Ralph Walter than his career and obvious devotion to Knox. He has directed operations for Kayne Anderson Rudnick and Chicago Corp/ABN-AMRO. He earned a doctorate in business and taught business and math. In the last few years, he has taken up the study of theology. An avid personal interest is his collection of historical documents and antiques, particularly toy and model soldiers.
Walter is a prime example of how the liberal arts contribute to life-long learning. His life is a testimony for a goal he stated for the College-that the students who leave here are prepared to lead full, well-examined lives.