Ronald J. Schiller is leaving his position as Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development, effective Oct. 15, in order to lead fundraising at National Public Radio as Senior Vice President for Development of NPR and President of the NPR Foundation.
A search for Schiller's successor will begin soon, University officials said.
Schiller, 44, joined the University in 2005 and has led a record-breaking fundraising effort that brought increased resources for scholarship, financial aid and new facilities, said President Robert J. Zimmer.
"Since Ron's arrival the University has dramatically improved engagement of our alumni and nurtured a culture of philanthropy with an unprecedented series of fundraising achievements," Zimmer said. "This produced historic enhancements to our research and education efforts, which are a testament to the work of Ron and the staff he assembled and led."
The University set annual fundraising records each successive year during Schiller's tenure, and tripled the amount raised in principal gifts (those greater than $5 million). Total annual fundraising increased from $225 million in FY2005 to $517 million in FY2009. Schiller helped lead the Chicago Initiative campaign, which ended in 2008 with a total of $2.38 billion raised.
"I am deeply proud to have been part of such a stellar team during the past four years at the University of Chicago," Schiller said in a message to his staff. "Because of your passion and dedication, we have accomplished amazing things together."
The University's enhanced fundraising has brought numerous tangible benefits. The Odyssey Scholarship program, which offers grants instead of loans for students in need, was created through a gift of $100 million from an anonymous donor in 2007. A gift of $35 million is supporting the new Reva and David Logan Center for Creative and Performing Arts. The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, scheduled to open in 2011, was made possible by a gift of $25 million. And in a donation that highlighted the appreciation of a Chicago education, alumnus and trustee David Booth announced a $300 million gift for the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
"Ron brought to the enterprise discipline, unflappable good cheer and consistent confidence in the view that we could elevate our performance and gain more support for the compelling work of the University," said Edward A. Snyder, Dean of Chicago Booth and the George Pratt Schultz Professor of Economics. "He always seemed to have data to show where we should allocate our efforts and what changes we should make."
"One of Ron's major and lasting contributions to the University is the team involved in the development effort, including alumni and friends," Snyder said. "The bad news is that Ron is leaving. The good news is that the team we have going forward is terrific."
Colleagues also praised Schiller's success in building stronger relationships with alumni. Schiller integrated alumni relations with the University's development effort, helped launch a systematic review of alumni engagement and opened new offices that brought more national and global scope to alumni outreach.
"In the four years Ron has been at the University, he has completely transformed our Alumni Relations and Development efforts," said Andrew M. Alper, chairman of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees. "Under Ron's leadership, we developed the staff, programs and systems that allowed us to get closer to our alumni and to surpass the Chicago Initiative's ambitious $2 billion goal by almost 20 percent. Ron leaves behind a powerful legacy."