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UT Regents fund new initiative to help UT institutions recruit and retain philanthropy professionals

AUSTIN – University of Texas institutions may gain an advantage in recruiting and training professionals in the critical field of philanthropy thanks to an investment by the UT System Board of Regents.

Regents approved allocating $800,000 to offer more to UT institutions through the UT System’s Center for Enhancing Philanthropy, which is part of the System’s Office of External Relations.

The center will create an advancement academy to offer advanced education and training to development professionals across the system, bringing in national best practice experts and creating certificate programs in the field of development so current university professionals can expand their areas of expertise and even be cross-trained in other relevant areas. The center will also build a talent management program designed to help universities recruit, retain and develop the very best candidates in the field.

“Development is an excellent career field for individuals who want to help institutions they love fulfill their compelling education, research and service missions,” said Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. “Through these new services, we may offer a unique and creative solution to a problem facing universities across the country today, and we believe it will give UT institutions a wonderful advantage in attracting the best talent.”

Philanthropy plays a major role in the mission of UT institutions – a role that is increasing each year. In 2013, charitable gifts made up nearly 9 percent of institutional expenditures across the UT System, with 210,599 alumni and supporters investing in UT campuses.

With more than 1 million non-profit organizations in the country, demand for experienced leaders in the philanthropy field is at an all-time high, yet there is a shortage of candidates with the right mix of training and experience to fill the void. There are currently six open positions at the vice president level and many more at the mid-manager level in the field of development across UT System institutions. With so much demand for development expertise, turnover rates are high, a trend that is national in scope and of concern to universities, hospitals and other nonprofits. Even when using executive search firms, placements of senior development professionals often takes six months to a year.

With this new investment, the Center for Enhancing Philanthropy will aim to address the issue in a variety of ways, including:

  • Facilitating searches for senior-level positions;
  • Introducing recruitment and retention best practices from around the country;
  • Encouraging better career paths for high-performing professionals at UT System institutions and marketing those approaches nationally to attract top performers;
  • Offering a “grow our own” program to identify and equip the next generation of development officers, including internships and practicums.

“We are very grateful to UT presidents and chief development officers who helped shape these new system-led services,” said Randa Safady, Ph.D., UT System’s vice chancellor for external relations. “Our goal is to truly help them, not only in filling important positions, but also in ensuring that all of their development officers have access to national best practices and high quality educational programs and advice on best practices to help each person – and each institution – fulfill their maximum potential.”

About The University of Texas System
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities, six health institutions and a fall 2013 enrollment of more than 213,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $14.6 billion (FY 2014) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 90,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.