DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) — After announcing his retirement last year, the president of Grand View University Kent Henning said a final farewell to students on Sunday at graduation.

Since 2000, Henning has served as the university’s president.

“I can’t say that I thought about being a college, university president until a couple of years before I came here,” said Henning. “When other people saw my potential, and they started to nominate me for open presidencies at other institutions.”

Throughout Henning’s 22 years as president, the school’s endowment increased, staff and faculty grew, the campus expanded from 39.5 acres to 78.3 acres, and new buildings were constructed. Also, according to the university, student enrollment has increased, campus housing quadrupled, the school offered more academic majors, the athletic programs expanded, and the sports teams have won 17 National Championships.

Henning credits the expansion to the university’s board of trustees, staff, and his love for the students.

“I was a first-generation student,” said Henning.

“I grew up on a farm in Iowa, so I could relate to the students that were here, and they just wanted a shot at life with an education, and that’s what drew me here.”

The university also said Henning helped change Grand View College to Grand View University and added six new graduate programs.

Although Henning will miss the students, he said he would be a Viking for life.

“I will miss my relationship with students,” said Henning. “I just cherish all that interaction with students, and I will miss it greatly.”

On July 1, 2022, Iowa native Rachelle Keck will take over as President of Grand View University. In the meantime, the university said will rename its student center after Henning.