CMU hires new administrative position to increase fundraising efforts

Vice President for University Advancement Bob Martin poses for a photo in front of the Old Main Administrative building on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois on August 25, 2011. (Jay Grabiec)

In an effort to increase fundraising, Central Michigan University hired Eastern Illinois University's Robert K. Martin as the first vice president for advancement.

In July 2015, University President George Ross announced plans to separate the university's development and external relations functions to create the new fundraising position. Ross announced in a press release Tuesday that Martin would begin Feb. 23. He will earn $230,000 each year.

"One of my major goals is to increase the culture of philanthropy," Martin said. "You have to find champions that are going to invest and share their story about why CMU is important to their career. We want to get and are happy for $50 and $100 gifts, but to make a difference we need five, six, seven, eight-figure gifts."

Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Barrie Wilkes chaired the 12-member search committee. Wilkes said the primary goal of the position is to diversify funding sources. This would help take the burden of balancing CMU’s $483.2 million budget off student tuition. Tuition is responsible for more of CMU’s budget than ever before. Student dollars comprise 57.7 percent of the operating budget this year.

"We need to bring in other kinds of revenue that help diminish the pressure on tuition and tuition increases," Wilkes said. "We want to build an endowment so we can generate funds to pay for our operating costs."

Martin is currently the vice president for university advancement at Eastern Illinois University, where he led a $64 million capital campaign. Martin said his current salary is "close to $185,000."

He previously served seven years as assistant vice president for development at Auburn University, and was assistant vice chancellor for development at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

The new position will create money-raising opportunities by targeting alumni donors. According the job posting on CMU's website, Martin will be responsible for providing strategic senior leadership in the design and implementation of a capital campaign and other institutional advancement programs, including alumni relations initiatives. As a member of the executive team, Martin will report to Ross.

"Advancement dollars have been pretty flat for years," Ross said in September. "An alternative source will be raising money for endowments, student scholarships (and) professorships."

A capital campaign, a fundraising effort designed to raise a specific amount of money within a certain time period, is one way to bring in new dollars. CMU launched a capital campaign to fundraise for its College of Medicine, Bioscience Building and the Grawn Hall renovation in the past, but not on the scale of other universities.

The University of Michigan’s recent capital campaign aims to raise more than $4 billion, Ross said. CMU’s first, and only, campaign raised over $70 million, he said.

"The (current) campaign at Western Michigan University is $400 million, but they're on their fourth campaign. The way it works, if you have the infrastructure in place, the next campaign I anticipate to be $500 million," Ross said. "But you have to build that infrastructure and change the culture."

Ross said alumni would be aggressively pursued for donations.

"I run into alumni all the time that love CMU," he said. "Their checkbooks don't reflect that, but it's culture. That's how (University of Michigan) raises $4 billion, they ask those Wolverines to give, and we will ask the Chippewas to give. We do a lot of things — we get money from a lot of corporations and foundations — but most of the giving comes from individuals, and most of those individuals have a relationship with their institution."

According to CMU’s Strategic Priorities, Initiatives and Metrics Goals for the 2015-16 academic year, CMU was below its fundraising goal by about $2 million, though it increased fundraising revenues by $700,000 from last year. The board set a goal for fundraising revenues of $14.9 million this year, an increase of about $1.2 million from 2014-15.

Vice President of Development and External Relations Kathy Wilbur will become more focused on government and external relations once Martin begins next month. In her streamlined role, Wilbur will lobby for higher education funding in Lansing and Washington D.C. full-time.


About Malachi Barrett

Editor-in-Chief Malachi Barrett is Battle Creek senior majoring in journalism with a minor in ...

View Posts by Malachi Barrett →