March 3, 2021
Dear OU Community,
It’s been several months since we first unveiled our university’s bold path forward by launching Lead On, University, the strategic plan for the Norman campus. Since then, our momentum has escalated, and we are seeing incredible progress on a number of fronts.
Even before our plan was revealed last summer, we knew that for us to make great strides as a university community, a best-in-class alumni and fundraising operation would be required. Having this in place is essential for OU to grow, flourish, and ensure excellence and affordability. For well over a year, the university and the OU Foundation have engaged in an extensive analysis to determine the best strategy for creating an unrivaled fundraising operation that will support our strategic plan. To that end, this week we are asking the OU Board of Regents to approve the transition of University Advancement to the OU Foundation. The Foundation Board of Trustees approved this transition at its February 5 meeting, and if approved by the OU Board of Regents, the transition will retroactively be in effect as of March 1, 2021.
In its nearly eight-decade existence, the Foundation has exclusively served the University of Oklahoma and the generous donors who support OU, making it uniquely equipped to give full attention to strengthening the fundraising enterprise. With this transition, the Foundation will adopt a best practice model, mirroring peer institutions that house successful fundraising organizations.
As a result of this change, University Advancement employees on all three OU campuses will become Foundation employees, pending final approval of the Regents. Over the last seven months, the Foundation has worked with affected employees on their specific circumstances regarding payroll and benefits, as well as their university colleges and centers, to ensure employees and their respective areas have the support they need during this transition.
We are confident this realignment will create a cohesive and strong fundraising structure that will support both the strategic priorities of the university as well as the colleges and centers by maximizing philanthropic support of their respective initiatives. Perhaps the largest single benefit to each college is an investment of additional capital into the fundraising enterprise that the Foundation Trustees have ensured. Through the realignment of priorities and heavily drawing from Foundation funding sources, there will be an immediate 30-35% increase in funding that will be invested primarily in human capital by significantly increasing the number of frontline fundraisers and scaling the organizational infrastructure commensurately. Ultimately, the focus will be on dollars raised today, along with creating a robust donor pipeline to ensure more dollars tomorrow.
Achieving a best-in-class fundraising program requires exceptional talent, and it’s essential that this reorganization is successful from the very start. To this end, we are excited to announce that Amy Noah will join the OU Foundation on April 1 as its new Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer. In this role, Amy will provide leadership to the Advancement teams across all three campuses, ensuring all fundraising efforts are coordinated and in support of the university’s strategic priorities. Amy spent over 18 years in development at Purdue University, having served as Vice President for Development at the Purdue Research Foundation from 2013 to 2020. Under her leadership, Purdue successfully raised over $2.5 billion as part of its seven-year Ever True campaign, including a record-breaking $517 million in fiscal year 2019. In 2014, Amy and her team launched Purdue Day of Giving, which accounted for $147 million over six years. In 2019, Purdue Day of Giving was celebrated as the largest single-day fundraising campaign in higher education for raising a total of $41.6 million. We are thrilled to welcome Amy to Oklahoma in the coming weeks, and we are confident that her expertise and enthusiasm will help propel OU to new heights.
For over 130 years, the OU family has demonstrated unparalleled generosity and loyalty to our university. This transition is an acknowledgement of the deep commitment of our alumni and friends, and helps channel their gracious resources directly toward our purpose of changing lives through an unparalleled, affordable education and innovative research discoveries that advance humanity.
Thank you for all that you do for our University of Oklahoma, and for your efforts to help us reach our greatest ambitions.
Live On, University,
Joseph Harroz, Jr.
University of Oklahoma