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Third-Generation Beaver Says He Can Go Home Again

January 05, 2022 6:44pm

(story by Tim Gallagher)

While in Storm Lake visiting his grandmother in March 2021, Matthew Astleford, a 2002 Buena Vista University graduate, asked BVU Director of Alumni Engagement Kristie Spotts if he could tour campus.

“My wife, Leah, and I often visit Storm Lake in the summer when classes aren’t in session,” says Astleford, a third-generation BVU alum. “I was curious about seeing campus while students were here.”

Gina Hartman, Business Office Accounting Clerk and BVU Family Association Coordinator, led the tour as part of the onboarding process for a pair of staff members who had recently joined University Advancement.

In December, Astleford joined the team as well, using that initial tour as a launch point for his new role as Associate Vice President for Advancement.

“I tagged along on the tour and loved it,” he says. “At the end of the day, I got back home to Kansas City (Kan.) and felt so much joy, so much pride about the state of BVU and all the initiatives happening. I was grateful for all of my experiences and wanted to help share them with others.”

Astleford, a native of Marion, S. Dak., majored in political science at BVU while earning minors in studio art and German. As a student, he participated in debate, spent an interim in Washington, D.C., a semester in Germany, and finished his undergraduate experience by working and studying for a semester back in Washington, D.C., as a participant in BVU’s decades-long partnership with The Washington Center for Internships & Academic Seminars.

The experiences prepared Astleford for career roles in government service (he served as a staffer for US Sen. Tim Johnson of S. Dak.), community service, healthcare, and higher education. He comes to BVU after having served as Vice President for Institutional Advancement at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kan.

He and wife Leah, a cardiovascular lead sonographer, are the parents of two children. The couple has also served as foster parents for other children.

“As a student, I relied on assistance such as the Pell Grant and several scholarships,” he says. “Experiences such as The Washington Center and others, and the connections I made with our faculty, helped provide the foundation for future success and fulfillment in my career and my life. I’m grateful for BVU alumni and friends who provided the assistance for programs that had a profound impact on me.”

Astleford seeks to pay it forward by strengthening bonds among alumni and friends, reconnecting and forging relationships among those who, like him, share in the University’s vision to build stronger communities and lives while serving others.

“Many of the skills I use each day in communicating with people were developed and sharpened in liberal arts classes like those taught by Professors Emeritus Dennis Dykema and the late Mac Hornecker,” Astleford says. “They encouraged us to constructively critique the work of our peers and we’d do so both assertively and respectively. Those skills are invaluable as I lead teams today.”

That, and the fact being a Beaver is simply part of his DNA. His father, Alan Astleford, a member of the Class of 1974, played football for the Beavers, as did his uncle, Mark Astleford, a 1978 graduate and member of the victorious Boot Hill Bowl squad. Grandmother Norma Astleford graduated from BVU in 1964 then embarked on a career in teaching.

“They say you can never go home again,” Matthew Astleford says with a smile. “I’m testing that theory, excited to be working with so many others who continue to help BVU students realize their potential by experiencing all the wonderful opportunities I had and more.”