Marvelous Mentors

By: David Shufflebarger, Senior Partner

One of the joys of our work is that we get to meet and learn from some truly marvelous people. Over time, my abundant youthful ignorance about philanthropy has been lessened considerably by generous people who were willing to pass on what they had learned from many successes and some failures along their way. They came in all flavors – donors, volunteers, colleagues, and consultants.

Three donors who led by example have had a profound impact on how I do things, and I am deeply indebted to them for their patience and kindness in taking me under their wings. I cherish the memories of working with Hunter Hogan in Virginia, Ed Crane in Georgia, and Russell Newton in Florida. There have been many others, but these are three giants for me.

My earliest recollection of such a learning experience was in 1971 hearing Francis C. Pray teach a university governing board about its responsibility to define and advance the institution’s mission in such a way that it could say with confidence that it was making a difference worthy of support. Ten years later, the Handbook for Educational Fund Raising he edited for Jossey-Bass and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) became a staple in many development offices.

Fast forward 25 years, Pray’s consulting partner Arthur C. Frantzreb made an unforgettable impression teaching a small group of us working with Ford Foundation grantees how to help volunteer boards be effective in doing their essential work.  While Frantzreb’s and Pray’s have been lasting lessons, they were one-off compared to what I learned from opportunities to interact with leading advancement professionals like Curt Simic, President Emeritus of the Indiana University Foundation, over four decades. CASE rightly honored him with its highest honor for all that he has done for so many of us.

I was reminded of all of this by the recent announcement that Dr. Joseph E. Johnson, President Emeritus of the University of Tennessee, was being honored with the Legacy Lifetime Achievement Award in Fundraising by the Knoxville Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals at its National Philanthropy Day ceremonies.

For those of us breaking into public higher education advancement in the late 60’s and early 70’s, our models were the University of Michigan and UT. Michigan had run the first modern comprehensive campaign in the 60’s, and UT followed in the 70’s. Indeed, UT had looked to Michigan for guidance in developing its programs.

Not surprisingly, then, UT folks were the mainstays of many CASE conferences and those of its predecessors. I fondly recall meeting “Dr. Joe” more than 40 years ago, and his joyous and humble approach to talking about how to get things done in development and alumni relations. It’s been a privilege to know and work with him since then. He was the third of the three UT Vice Presidents for Development to become President, following the legendary Dr. Andy Holt and the late Dr. Ed Boling.

While he has taught legions of folks in higher education about advancement, he has also had a significant impact on Knoxville-area nonprofit institutions and their development officers, serving and sharing his wisdom widely. His award is richly deserved.