Developing academic programs in anticipation of an enriched academic profile and a fundraising campaign

Most academic leaders involved in fundraising today recognize the importance of targeting intellectual passion and academic programs–in most cases, collaborative approaches to addressing complex problems–as the foundation of a large campaign. They take this approach rather than focusing only on something static such as a building or collection of endowed chairs.

When an institution builds a campaign on academic excellence, it signals a mature spirit of collaboration that bodes well for its future. But one challenge of this approach is engaging faculty in ways that ensure the success of both the campaign and the academic programs engendered by the fundraising effort. In a well-conceived campaign, the development of intangible assets such as faculty collaboration is an important by-product.

Susan has studied faculty engagement and academic program development at fourteen top universities, learning the importance of bringing together faculty in a spirit of collaboration that enables the intellectual passions of faculty to shape the way the institution evolves. Her findings hold an important lesson for leaders: seize the opportunity of a campaign to build on the institution’s authentic core and demonstrate that scholars and intellectual inquiry are indeed the foundation of an institution’s strength.

Based on this finding, Susan and Larry Hirschhorn of CFAR-The Center for Applied Research engaged in an ongoing project using their own methodology to encourage a university’s board, top leaders, and engaged faculty members to collaborate on shaping the institution’s future and strengthening its financial security. During the campaign’s planning phase, they engaged with leaders and scholars to design the academic components that formed the backbone of the campaign. As a result, the institution made significant intellectual contributions to society and attracted significant new donors, while also creating a stronger vision of itself. Susan and Larry described their ideas and experience in the newsletter, Academic Leader .