Most of you know I grew up in Kansas and served four higher education institutions, three of them in senior post. So I can’t help noticing that it’s been a big week for fundraising for a couple of universities that hold my attention, if not a piece of my heart.First, let me tell you how excited I am that Dr. John Bardo has been named President of Wichita State University. While I have appreciated and respected WSU’s President of 13 years Dr. Don Beggs, I am eager to have a president who can build on Don’s legacy—and frankly, shake the barrel. He’ll have a big job to do. Fort Hays State’s enrollment is at 11,000 and WSU’s is still at 14,000. That’s a problem! I don’t want to start getting wires crossed for the retired Western Carolina’s Chancellor’s tenure, so all I am going to say is he is my man to build WSU into the largest and most important university in Kansas. Oops! I understand that sometimes, my endorsement isn’t helpful, and I don’t want to screw anything up for him. But I just can’t help myself here. I just want to see him take this opportunity and make it fly.Next, my fraternity brother and friend, Ed Hammond is completing 25 years as president of Fort Hays State University. I am very proud that Fort Hays was one of the first contracts Hartsook Companies had almost 25 years ago. We worked with Dr. Larry Miller, who was the fundraising Vice President at Hays just as Dr. Ed Hammond was coming on. I need a separate blog to tell you how this man has changed this sleepy western Kansas college, but he has raised money and created the third largest college in Kansas.There is an important role in every state for colleges – urban, traditional, rural, private and community colleges. It will be fun to see how the fresh energy of new leadership shapes Fort Hayes and Wichita State in Kansas. You know I will find a fundraising story or two to share as I watch these stories unfold.
Will You Be There When John Shamberg Calls?
A big part of fundraising is showing up and being available. I learned this lesson on a very memorable New Year’s Eve, a very long time ago.
As an eager young fundraiser working for Washburn University, I didn’t know that it was unusual still to be at work in the evening of December 31st. But, there I was.
Earlier that year, a graduate of Washburn University School of Law told me he was going to give a gift of land to his synagogue, a private K-12 school and Washburn. John Shamberg, who has since passed away, made millions of dollars for institutions all over the world, and he wanted to give a significant gift to organizations he valued. His 40 acres of land on the outskirts of Kansas City were valued at $450,000, and his intention was to give $150,000 each to three organizations.
He’d left the task to the last day of the year, but now he was ready to make it happen.
He called the synagogue. No answer.
He called the K-12 school. No answer.
Then, he called Washburn and got me.
“Bob,” he said, “you just won the jackpot!”
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