VP for Alumni Relations and Development moves to NPR

Rather than trying to recruit funds based on an alumni’s major, Schiller understood that many alums had a wide array of interests

By Maria Mauriello

Ronald Schiller, Vice President of Alumni Relations and Development, will step down October 15 to occupy a similar position at National Public Radio. Schiller’s office is responsible for soliciting donations from University alumni, and during his tenure, expanded fundraising efforts to global levels.

Schiller’s five-year tenure was marked by a period of increasing financial success for the University. Schiller helped lead the Chicago Initiative Campaign, the University’s $2.8 billion campaign to strengthen the University’s financial footing. He and his team set annual fundraising records each year, increasing total funding from $225 million in 2005 to $571 million in 2009.

Schiller also oversaw the creation of the Odyssey Scholarship program, funded by a $100 million anonymous donation, which replaces certain students’ loans with grants. During his tenure, the University also received a $300-million gift to the Booth School of Business, a $25-million gift for the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, and $35-million supporting the Reva and David Logan Center for Creative and Performing Arts.

Schiller pushed for active and constant engagement with alumni, unlike many foundations that allow relations to wane between fundraising campaigns, according to University spokesman Jeremy Manier. Rather than trying to recruit funds based on an alumni’s major, Schiller “understands that major [alumni] donors often have a wide array of interests,” Manier said.

Manier also said that while fewer alumni donated in 2009, “giving from our consistent donors did not decline, which suggests that even in this difficult economic time our supporters are energized by the difference their gifts to the University can make in our world.”

Schiller’s team intends to continue his methods and ideas in future campaigns. “There is no magic bullet for fundraising, but the University is fortunate to have a creative and energetic team that is always looking for good ideas like these,” Manier said.

In a departure letter to his colleagues, Schiller wrote that the opportunity at NPR “brings together my passion for fund-raising with a leadership position in a world-class institution that is so important in our society.”