Penn State will be losing a leader in fundraising soon.
According to the university, senior vice president for Development and Alumni Relations Rodney Kirsch will leave his position on Aug. 31.
Kirsch’s fingerprints are all over the university after his supervision of two separate seven-year-long capital campaigns bringing in more than $1 billion. Throughout his career at Penn State, he was responsible for supervising $4.4 billion in private gifts.
“Rod’s excellent leadership and ability to oversee some of our most critical needs and significant interactions with alumni and friends is unequaled in his field,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “His diligence in fundraising and in conveying the deepest needs of this institution and our students has been stellar and he has laid a solid foundation for anyone who follows. In fact, he leaves such a legacy of success that it will be difficult to fill his shoes.”
Penn State raised more money with Kirsch as vice president than it had in the 140 years before, according to a university release.
“His steadfast commitment to raising funds for students, his sincere love of the institution and his superb judgment have inspired many a volunteer not only to contribute dollars, but to engage actively with the university,” said Martha Jordan, chair of the executive committee of the Penn State Advisory Council on Philanthropy.
The university’s campuses are dotted with buildings he helped shape by securing the money behind them. Among the major accomplishments are the Pegula Ice Arena, Hintz Family Alumni Center, The Children’s Hospital at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the Bank of America Career Services Center.
Other projects were less about the structure and more about what happened inside, like Schreyer Honors College and the Presidential Leadership Academy.
“I have been incredibly privileged to lead the fundraising program for two decades at one of the world’s great public universities. The passion and commitment which our alumni and friends have for this university is unsurpassed,” Kirsch said.
“I am enormously indebted to every member of the Penn State family who has labored to create opportunity and excellence for future generations of Penn Staters through their philanthropy and volunteerism. The future of philanthropy is bright at Penn State and I look forward to seeing all the great things the university will accomplish in the future,” he said.
Kirsch has not just asked others to give. He has done the same, with almost $200,000 in commitments to the university.
Most recently, Kirsch, and his wife, Michelle, a Schreyer associate dean, gave money to help create an embedded counselor position for the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services. That $50,000 gift will also work hand in hand with a new group of philanthropists, the Class of 2016.
The class gift will be an endowment to support CAPS. On Monday, Penn State announced that the first year of the endowment would be used with the Kirsch gift for the embedded counselor.
“I’m a very lucky guy. I found a calling in my life that I really enjoy and have been able to work for many years at some superb universities with exceptional philanthropists and talented professional staff. Together, we touched a lot of lives and helped make the world a bit better place. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that,” Kirsch said.