An interview with Marc Broderick, Vice President for University Development and Alumni Affairs

Posted: April 30, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

Marc Broderick
Marc Broderick

Marc Broderick, vice president for university development and alumni affairs, joined Mason last October after serving as senior associate vice president for institutional advancement at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Prior to joining Temple University, Broderick was director of development at Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta. Other highlights of his career include serving as the director of development for the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgia State University and associate director of corporate and foundation relations at the George Washington University.

Broderick earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice from the George Washington University in 1993.

You are vice president for university development and alumni affairs and David Roe is president of the George Mason University Foundation. What is the difference between the two roles and how do you work together?

I think the reason this position was split – my predecessor was vice president for development and president of the foundation – was because these are important jobs with a completely different set of required skills. I’ve been in higher education professional fund raising now for 15 years, and I feel I know how to raise money, and I know how to run an operation, but I don’t know how to run a foundation. We’re professional fund raisers and alumni relations professionals here.

I’m on the foundation board, and David Roe and I work hand in hand on everything this operation does. The foundation invests our money; they work closely with the rules and regulations that are required for a foundation. The foundation has done a lot of real estate development on the Fairfax and Arlington Campuses and helped the university with land acquisition on the Prince William Campus. Dave really understands the foundation’s assets and its role in the university.

You’ve been at Mason about six months. Have you had time to think about changes in your area and new initiatives?

I was hired – and we’re gearing up – for a university-wide comprehensive campaign. To take the university development operation to a level where we need to be when we’re actually executing, a lot of work has to happen – and a lot of work has happened and will continue at this high level for the next 12 to 18 months. We have gone through a database conversion that was successfully implemented April 1.

We’re also working with President [Alan] Merten – whose role, leadership, mission and vision is imperative to the success of this operation – as well as the provost, the deans and administrators, to identify fund-raising priorities for a university-wide comprehensive campaign. These schools and colleges and units are the drivers of the campaign. They identify what we’re going to raise money for and how much is going to be needed to achieve the goals that they’ve set forth. Hopefully, we’ll be able to ask the Board of Visitors to consider a timeframe for the comprehensive campaign in the first quarter of 2009.

The overall objective of any comprehensive campaign is to build a culture of giving, and that’s what we need to do here at George Mason, and that’s why it really needs to be a bottom-up effort, not top-down.

How do you plan to build this ‘culture of giving’ at Mason?

A lot of it has to do with building the case for giving to Mason and giving people many opportunities to give. We’re going to be enhancing the Annual Giving operation to include all alumni, faculty, staff and students. Right now we have a very successful senior giving campaign.

Mason Spirit is our alumni magazine, and working closely with [vice president for university relations] Chris LaPaille’s operation we are going through a major overhaul of the magazine. We will have our first issue out in the fall. We’re going to create the marquee communications tool for George Mason University that will be actively read by our alumni constituency, our faculty and staff, the local business community and the philanthropic community. We need to more clearly show that we’re doing terrific things here academically, we’re doing terrific things in our student population and we’re serving our community. When we get into different phases of the comprehensive campaign we’ll be producing more material that shows the impact of giving.

We hear the most about a comprehensive campaign, but fund raising is going on all the time, isn’t it?

A university-wide comprehensive campaign actually is everything that this operation does. A university-wide comprehensive campaign has a start date and an end date, and all the dollars given to the university in that time frame are counted toward the university comprehensive campaign. Within the comprehensive campaign there may be a capital effort; a scholarship effort for a school, college or unit; there may be endowment pushes; and there’s annual giving, but it is all-inclusive.

Have you done any restructuring in the Development Office since you joined Mason?

Not really. We hired Rick Virgin as the new associate vice president for university development and created a new position of associate vice president for campaign programs that will be filled by Marsha Ray, who starts May 5. We have a great staff here. The changes that we have made and continue to make are ‘best business practices.’

Based on your experience, how does Mason compare to other institutions in terms of fund raising, for its age and size?

I can’t compare as to age, because the universities where I’ve worked have all been older than Mason. But as far as the opportunity, Mason is arguably in the best position possible. Because of its youth, because of its entrepreneurial spirit, what I’d like to do is harness that energy. We can create an environment; we can build it the way we want to build it, not tied down by decades’ worth of tradition. We can create our own traditions now. You can’t ask for a better situation.

Now, when it comes to major gift fund raising from alumni donors – our average age is not at the prime age, which is 65 to 75 – we have to be a little more entrepreneurial in our approach. Alumni are very, very important, and I think we need to build a case that giving to George Mason is important, regardless of the amount. So that when people think of George Mason, they think, ‘this is a good place to invest my philanthropic money.’ We want them to know that we are using their money properly and wisely, and this is a better place to give than another nonprofit they are considering.

Can you talk a bit about the alumni affairs side of your job?

The alumni affairs operation is very important to the future success of George Mason, and the Alumni Association is very important to us in helping to build that culture of giving. Alumni need to see that George Mason should still be a part of their lives, whether that be in coming back to network for future career opportunities, to hire our recent graduates, or to talk to classes. I would like our graduates to see us as a resource, as a place that will always be a part of themselves. That engagement leads to building the culture of giving.

What about the role of volunteers in the development operation?

This campaign is going to involve all the volunteers at George Mason, whether they sit on fiduciary or nonfiduciary boards. We’ll be educating them on the role of the leadership volunteer in the comprehensive campaign, and that’s everything from making a personal contribution themselves to serving as stewards for other gifts to come in. For example, I’ve already spoken to the Alumni Association full board and executive committee, and I’ve been able to speak at every Board of Visitors meeting since I’ve been here. I’ve also given a presentation to the foundation Board of Trustees. I want them all to have a clear understanding about giving to Mason, and what Mason is doing and how giving can change this environment.

Investing in Mason can transform the student experience, it can transform academic research, and it can transform the learning experience at a level that you may not be able to do at a private school across the river or even at other universities in Virginia. Because our endowment is not at the level that our brother and sister schools are, you can make a huge difference here for your money.

Did Mason’s men’s basketball season leading to the Final Four in 2006 have an effect on fund raising? What about the team’s most recent appearance in the NCAA Tournament?

We definitely saw a spike after the Final Four run. It’s our objective and our goal to maintain those donors’ interest and keep them on as donors. We don’t yet know about the most recent season.

Why do you like being a fund-raising professional?

I was born in western Massachusetts and came from a modest background. I was afforded the opportunity to attend the George Washington University on a full scholarship. The scholarship I received was through someone’s generosity. So I’m a firm believer in giving back. It’s easy for me to ask people to give to higher education since they can change the lives of generations of students by making a financial investment. I love this business, and I think George Mason University is serving an extremely important role in higher education in the Washington, D.C., area. Dollar for dollar, I don’t think you can get a better education here in the region.

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