My Path to Philanthropy

My Path to Philanthropy

In 2000, I was on the Board of Trustees at the Culver Educational Foundation (CEF). The CEF is the governing body for Culver Military Academy and the Culver Girls Academy elite boarding schools about 45 minutes south of South Bend. The board was discussing what boards so often discuss, a need for additional funds and the possibility of a campaign to raise those funds. I had been in sales for 25 years and was a partner with my brother in a multi-state sales firm selling products to large retail chains.

I was riveted by the discussion of a campaign to grow the Culver endowment. There was a plan to enlarge the advancement staff and reach out to alumni from coast to coast. I decided to apply and was selected to join the development team as a leadership gifts officer. Eight years later, the campaign had produced $376 million and was the largest comprehensive capital campaign in secondary school history.

After Culver, I was part of a leadership team brought into Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Antioch College was closed in 2008. We reopened the college in 2011 with 35 students and limited funds. In a series of successful events, the college grew its endowment from $25 million to $44 million. The student body grew from 35 to 270. We renovated and restored several of the campus structures including an 1850 dormitory. This dormitory was one of three original buildings, closed for years. Once renovated the building retained its 1850 charm, while receiving a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification.

Prior to joining IU South Bend, I was the senior major gifts officer at Valparaiso University in Northwest Indiana. Valparaiso is currently in a $250 million campaign. My favorite project while at Valparaiso was working with two separate donors to create and fund the establishment of the Innovation Hub at McMillan Hall, an interdisciplinary center of entrepreneurship learning. The Innovation Hub will provide students with the opportunity to develop projects and programs in an environment that combines real-world experience with academic expertise.

I am extremely pleased and excited to have joined the team at IU South Bend. My family has roots to North Central Indiana dating back to 1933, when my grandparents moved to Culver. IU South Bend is currently in a $35 million campaign that will increase the number of scholarships available, add new advanced health science degrees through the Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences, and provide added experiential learning opportunities for both students and faculty. I am honored to be part of a very successful organization.

I truly believe that I have the best job on campus. Philanthropy has a special meaning to me, and it is a great joy to work with our donors and benefactors who strengthen our university and our community. It is my honor to work with IU South Bend alumni and friends, to unify the shared dreams and visions, and make them into realities.

Written by Stephen W. Sturman, vice chancellor for university advancement.