Higher education is an increasingly competitive environment. Fort Lewis College must take part in a strategic repositioning to remain competitive in the future.
To work towards achieving this goal, a team was built under Mark Jastorff, the vice president for advancement, Jastorff said. This is a new position created to orchestrate this process.
The goal of structuring this team is to spread the word of FLC’s student experience and what is offered, what Jastorff refers to as the story of FLC.
Doug Lyon, previously the dean of The School of Business Administration, counts himself as the most recent addition to the team. Lyon transitioned from the position of dean of The SOBA to the title of senior corporate and foundation officer, he said. Currently, the position of dean of The SOBA is vacant.
His current job is not a new position but one that FLC revived in response to the increasingly competitive nature of the higher education environment, Lyon said.
“Working with our stakeholders in the business community and the community at large has never been more important,” he said.
On arriving in his position five months ago, Jastorff noticed that the position, prior to Lyon’s transition, was lacking and that someone with a lot of connections and skill had the potential to generate revenue for FLC, Jastorff said.
“Doug’s role in this will be critical because these are foundations and corporations and contacts that he has that have resources to help them meet their workforce development needs,” he said.
Lyon provided a printed copy of his LinkedIn profile, which states, among other things, he has experience as a financial analyst at Chevron, a management professor at FLC and an assistant professor of management at Utah State University.
On the abruptness of Lyon’s transition, as random as it looks, this transition was a long-time plan of FLC President Dene Kay Thomas, he said.
Lyon will continue to handle the day to day duties of the dean of The SOBA position until the end of the semester, Barbara Morris, the provost and vice president for academic affairs, said in an email.
A search for a new dean of The SOBA will likely commence the summer or early fall of 2015, she said. Morris and the faculty are collectively discussing interim solutions to the vacancy of Lyon’s previous position.
Recently, FLC’s marketing and communication department moved under Jastorff’s position to help build this team, Lyon said. People to collect and interpret data and a couple major gift officers were hired as well.
Major gift officers are people reaching out to corporations, alumni and other such benefactors who could comfortably donate a major gift, Jastorff said. A major gift is considered any amount over $25,000.
This is the first time FLC is using the major gifts office structure to build the relationships able to solicit major gifts, he said.
“All of this is designed to create a capacity for fundraising,” Jastorff said.
Though FLC has had an excellent fundraising presence before this team came to fruition, it lacked a staff large enough to achieve what the advancement team aims to do, he said.
“It’s all these different pieces coming in together for what will be a big-time fundraising campaign in the not too distant future for us,” he said.
At the latest, this campaign will launch by next fall, Jastorff said.
The current phase of work concerns what the infrastructure of this process will be, how much money will be raised and what for, he said.
Student scholarships, faculty needs, the GPE building and upgrades to FLC’s athletic facilities are among the facets being considered as recipients of this money, Jastorff said.
“State funding is dwindling. It’s going to continue to dwindle,” he said. “When I first got in this business, it was the icing on the cake, fundraising dollars. Now, it is the cake, plus the icing and the utensils it’s served with.”
One method that Jastorff and his team are looking into is branding, Lyon said. If a donor were to name a program on campus, it acts like a branding platform.
“It’s a statement that the donor is making about what the said donor believes to be the quality of that program and the importance of that program,” he said.
As higher education institutions become more enrollment and tuition dependent, it becomes more important to be able to tell an exciting and compelling story about a student experience that is transformative for the student, Lyon said.
“When we have gift opportunities, and those gift opportunities can then be put to work at Fort Lewis College to fundamentally change the educational experience and make it even better, that’s our goal every single day,” he said.
Improving FLC isn’t only good for students or the college itself, Lyon said. The impact of FLC’s contributions to the local economy is significant, and by improving FLC’s standing, that contribution only becomes larger.
Mitch Davis, the FLC public affairs officer, recently prepared a report on FLC’s economic impact on the community. Others that the report is attributed to include Angie Rochat, the director of The Office of Sponsored Research and Federal Relations; Lyon; Richard Miller, the executive director of The Office of Institutional Research and Planning; and Michele Peterson, the associate vice president of The Budget Office.
Davis provided the economic impact report.
The projected total economic impact of FLC for the 2012-2013 year into the regional economy was $151 million. To get this projection, a multiplier of 1.8 was applied to the six major expenditures of FLC. The reason for the multiplier value is to act as an accurate reflection of the overall impact once the dollars circulate through the local economy.
The report designated six major expenditures including employee expenditures, student expenditures, human capital, college expenditures, visitor expenditures and capital expenditures.
Of these, students contributed over $52 million to the regional economy for the 2012-2013 year. Students spend over $29 million annually in La Plata County, and after secondary spending in the local economy, the overall impact is over $52 million, according to the report.
“We need people all across the state and nation to believe with the same depth of feeling that we believe, that Fort Lewis College is a great place to come and get a great education and get a great start in life,” Lyon said. “Fundamentally, that’s what this team is working on.”