Making a Momentous Campus Impact

By John Lester

University fundraising campaigns often produce headlines of multimillion-dollar donations or newly named buildings.

But the real success of a campaign comes when it truly engages alumni and friends to attract a greater number of donations from those just starting their philanthropic legacies.

“Even the smallest gift makes a significant difference on a college campus,” said Phil Tomlinson, retired CEO of TSYS and chair of CSU’s First Choice campaign. “We have students who are literally unsure if they can enroll during any given semester because of a single expensive textbook or a tuition bill that’s a few hundred dollars beyond their means.”

Universities are measured in national polls like U.S. News & Report not only on the amount of money raised, but by the numbers of alumni who have given back to their alma mater, said Tomlinson.

“Participation is critical to the success of any campaign,” Tomlinson said. “Sure, the headline-grabbing gifts are nice, but we really have to engage larger numbers of alumni and supporters. They make a tremendous impact.”

Recent gifts transforming CSU:

  • Glenn Stokes, ecology professor at CSU for more than 30 years, has contributed $10,000 toward a new lab sciences building planned next to LeNoir Hall;
  • David Hart Jr., ’77, is a political science alumnus who has established The Hart Family Scholarship Endowment in College of Letters and Sciences. The scholarship will become available spring 2017 to full-time students in the college who exhibit a financial need;
  • The West Georgia Eye Care Center has contributed $25,000 toward the university’s new Center for Education and Nursing under construction in Uptown Columbus. Scheduled to open January 2017;
  • Pam Siddall, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 1991, has contributed to the new fund for the construction of new Center for Education and Nursing, and also directed another investment of $20,000 to CSU’s Honors College. Siddall is president of Advance Central Services, Inc.; and
  • John Shinkle, a Columbus financial adviser and longtime supporter of CSU athletics, invested into this campaign to again support athletics and also support CSU’s art and honors programs. Shinkle is the Columbus branch manager for Stifel Financial Corp.


Columbus State hires new VP for University Advancement

CSU hired Paul “Rocky” Kettering III as its new vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the Columbus State University Foundation, Inc. Kettering started his post in July. Along with finishing the university’s comprehensive First Choice campaign, Kettering will lead the university’s fundraising efforts and a division that includes development, alumni engagement and advancement services. Formerly, Kettering served as vice president of development and external relations at Texas State Aquarium. At Aquarium, he led more than 20 employees and a $50 million campaign to expand the nonprofit center in Corpus Christi, Texas. He has directed and raised more than $150 million in capital campaigns and fundraising initiatives during his 17-plus years as an institutional leader.