December 2, 2019 | By Chuck Carlson
Steve Klein, Albion College’s former vice president for enrollment management, died November 29 after a long illness.
When Klein’s longtime friend Mauri Ditzler accepted the presidency of Albion College in 2014, one of his major priorities was to bolster admissions. And Ditzler knew just the person to help him accomplish that goal.
“I turned to the best admissions counselor I had ever met, and he agreed to join us,” Ditzler said, recalling a cherished working relationship and friendship. “Albion was the capstone adventure of his career. Steve loved his time here, both what he was doing and what he was able to accomplish.”
Indeed, Klein accepted the challenge and over the next four years helped improve and diversify Albion’s enrollment, progressing toward Ditzler’s goal of making the student population “look more like America.”
A memorial service for Klein will be held Sunday, December 8, at 1 p.m. in Goodrich Chapel. A reception will follow in Upper Baldwin.
The loss was especially tough for DItzler, who worked with Klein for six years at Wabash College in Indiana, where Ditzler was dean and Klein was senior admissions counselor.
“Steve was the influence who pulled us together,” he said. “As each new team member joined, he brought us all into a wonderful shared working relationship with one another. All of us have one or two of these times in our lives where friendship and work connect in this way. These were delightful times, working with people who were highly competent and who were also your best friends. Steve was a force for good in this world.”
Dee McCormick, Albion’s vice president for finance and administration, worked with Klein for eight years at Wabash when she was chief financial officer.
“I was so excited to come here because Steve was here,” she said, recalling a dinner during the search process for her current job.
“He saw me and gave me the biggest bear hug,” she said. “He was a great hugger. I always remember Steve as such a kind, compassionate person. He was a big personality, but deep down he was a pooh bear and he cared so much about students.”
Amanda Dubiel, Albion’s associate vice president for enrollment management, remembered how Klein connected with everyone on the admission staff.
“He was one of the kindest people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with,” she said. “He made sure he had a relationship with each staff member and he certainly saw the strengths in the team and let people work as individuals to accomplish a common goal.”
Dubiel also pointed to Klein’s determination to follow the enrollment management plan created by his predecessor, John Hille.
“And Steve looked beyond Michigan to grow the enrollment population, and he did that to great success,” she said.
Klein, a native of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., began his admissions career at the University of Virginia and then as associate dean of admissions at Shippensburg (Pa.) University before moving on to Wabash and then Albion.
When he was hired, Klein lauded the commitment by faculty, staff and alumni to help meet Albion’s enrollment challenges. And from a low of roughly 1,200 students in 2014-15, Albion’s enrollment is close to 1,500 today.
Klein’s wife of 37 years, Anita, said he looked forward to the new challenge at Albion.
“I think he welcomed the challenge and was so excited to work with Mauri,” she said. “He was excited by the things he saw. He saw the opportunity for growth. He was genuinely passionate about what he did. He believed in the product and he believed in the College he was working for. He was also so good at listening to students and what they were looking for, as well as parents and what they were looking for. He was the light in a lot of people’s eyes.”