RNL Fundraising Voices: Les Cook and Lifetime Engagement
Jun 02 2016
A lifetime relationship. This is what we are hoping for with our students, who later become alumni, supporters and donors. It’s certain that admission, orientation, financial aid, student affairs, athletics all play into this relationship, well before our alumni are handed off to advancement, alumni relations, and fundraisers. But at most institutions, these areas are separate, and the offices don’t even talk much. That’s not the case at The Michigan Technological University. These areas are all under the leadership of one office, and one leader, Les Cook - Vice president for student affairs and advancement. He has one of the most interesting and impactful jobs in higher education. I got Les on the phone to talk about what combining all of these areas into one division can do for the student, alumni, and donor experience. Les has picked up some great insight from this massive endeavor. Key Takeaways [2:10] How did Les get started? [5:45] What does Michigan Tech gain when they combine student affairs with other activities? [8:00] If you build a sense of pride with your students, then they will come back to invest in the university later in life. [8:50] Les shares some personal examples of how he and his team engage his students. [11:00] There's always huge turnover in gift officer positions, but is Les seeing something different at his university? [11:20] It's not about getting talent it's about growing your own talent. [14:25] Les is trying to minimize the gap between the alumni experience and the student experience. [17:25] Michigan Tech's fundraising philosophy is similar to their student recruitment philosophy. [19:30] If you can keep alumni involvement/engagement pretty steady over the course of their lives, it will benefit the university in the end. [21:15] Les talks about his dissertation and what he learned from it. [23:10] As Les talks to more people in his industry, what is he currently learning from his colleagues? [23:40] People are intrigued with Michigan Tech's growth. [25:20] What are some of the biggest lessons Les has learned during his student advancement career? [28:20] In order for change to work, you need to have a president willing to support new ideas. [29:40] What's next for university advancement? [34:10] It's all about making a difference in the lives of others. Mentioned in This Episode www.mtu.edu/executiveteam/cook.html www.ruffalonl.com www.scalefunder.com/ Quotes "Awareness to greatness, greatness to engagement, engagement to investment, and investment is commitment." "Advancement officers work more closely now to bring donors and students together to share what's going on." "There's a magic that occurs when the donors and the students come together."