By Betsy S. Blumenthal
Eleanor Horne, chairwoman of the College’s board of trustees, said the administration is looking for a new vice president who, in addition to raising money, can practically “walk on water” — which in today’s economy may seem to be the same thing.
For now, the school is immersed in this exercise of finding the Holy Grail of fundraising.
At an open forum on Friday, Horne — who also heads the search committee for the vice president of College Advancement — introduced Kenneth Boyden, who presented himself as ready to help ease the school’s money woes.
Yet when pressed by a board member, Boyden appeared somewhat uncomfortable with the exploding new world of social media and skirted the subject when asked how he would utilize it. He said he uses e-newsletters and hard copy “pretty aggressively” to solicit donations.
Horne said the committee has been “charged with finding the best candidates” they can, giving “special points to anyone who can handle all the aspects” of the position, including marketing and communications, government, academic and community relations, and the College’s annual fund and capital campaigns.
Boyden, who holds a B.A. in science from West Chester University, a J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law at Penn State and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Pennsylvania, has held several fundraising positions.
He said the College’s Department of College Advancement is staffed with a great team of professionals and that “those professionals are doing wonderful work.
“But like any initiative,” he said, “it can grow.”
Boyden said that if selected he would first turn his attention to the school’s capital campaign and effectively stop the traditional dollars-and-cents approach of the annual fund.
This would be part of a “refurbished, reorganized, re-energized fundraising initiative,” he said, and would redouble the effort to “reach back out and engage” the College’s 70,000 alumni.
Boyden, who is currently the vice president of institutional advancement at CUNY Staten Island, described the capital campaign as a “historically bricks and mortar” effort to raise money for new buildings, but has morphed into a project that can include “raising scholarship dollars for students, faculty support, capital improvements and other miscellaneous causes.”
Aside from this endorsement of a new approach, he said additionally that perhaps the school had not tapped its greatest resource to fulfill these goals — entities beyond alumni. He suggested the school befriend other institutions, philanthropic organizations and individual donors — not an easy feat if they have no connection to the College.
On another topic, he described how alumni could give back to the College by teaching classes, serving on advisory boards or mentoring students, providing “counsel and wisdom and experience.” It was an extension of his preference to measure success not in dollar donations, but by the alumni participation percentage, which tracks levels of alumni engagement with the college — i.e. visits, attendance at school events and the like.
Honored by the nomination from his most recent employer Tomas Morales, previously the president of CUNY Staten Island, Boyden will have to hold his breath as the board debates his qualifications and his fit to the College’s agenda.