Farrell to bring broad experience as UChicago’s newly appointed Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development

Thomas J. Farrell, an accomplished and experienced leader in development at the University of Pennsylvania and other prominent institutions, has been appointed the University of Chicago's Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development.

Farrell's appointment takes effect July 1.Michele Schiele, who is serving as interim Vice President until July 1, will return full-time to her role as Vice President for Development in the Medical Center.

Farrell brings more than two decades of experience in higher education development and alumni relations. In his current position as Penn's Associate Vice President for Undergraduate and Individual Giving, Farrell has played a role in many facets of university development, including serving as lead planner for the current $3.5 billion Making History campaign.

Farrell's experience in building alumni engagement was a prime consideration in bringing him to the University of Chicago, President Robert J. Zimmer wrote in a letter to deans and senior administrators.

"The loyalty and commitment of alumni and friends have helped make the University of Chicago an enduring leader in higher education," Zimmer wrote. "We are confident that Tom's experience and qualities will make him an effective leader in building on this history to further the University's essential missions and goals."

Zimmer pointed to the expansion of the faculty and increased financial aid, including the Odyssey Scholarship for undergraduates, as current examples of how alumni and friends directly carry forward the core values of the University of Chicago. With Farrell's strong leadership, Zimmer wrote, the University can continue to build on that momentum.

Farrell said that spirit helped attract him to Chicago.

"I am excited to be joining a university that not only has a distinctive academic culture, but is in the midst of a remarkable period of achievement and growth," Farrell said. "I look forward to working with the entire University of Chicago community in supporting the University's ambitious and important plans."

Farrell's broad career in development at major research universities has given him comprehensive, first-hand experience in the core components of higher education advancement programs, including annual giving, alumni relations, volunteer leadership engagement, major gift fundraising, gift planning, and campaign management. He is an activist leader who is committed to strong organizational values and practices.

Farrell received his BA in history and political science in 1988 and an MS in education in 1994, both from the University of Rochester; and an EdD in 2005 from the University of Pennsylvania.He began his development career at Rochester, where he oversaw the reunion major gifts program in support of a $375 million capital campaign. He then moved to leadership positions at the University at Buffalo Law School and at Dartmouth College, where he managed the Gift Planning program and helped plan Dartmouth's current $1.3 billion fundraising campaign.

From Dartmouth Farrell moved to Penn, where as Assistant Vice President for Individual Gifts, he led six departments that generated a record $203 million in gifts and pledges in fiscal year 2007. At the same time he completed his doctorate in higher education management, writing a dissertation based on a case study of Harvard University's record-setting fundraising campaign of 1994-1999. In 2007 Farrell was promoted to Associate Vice President.As lead planner for the university's $3.5 billion campaign, he oversaw academic planning, budget development, staffing, volunteer leadership recruitment, and managed the setting of goals and priorities.

At the University of Chicago, he will assume leadership of a department that has grown and changed in recent years, integrating alumni relations and development operations, placing high priority on finding new ways to engage the University's 143,000 alumni around the globe.

Andrew M. Alper (AB '80, MBA '81), chairman of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees, noted that the University has opened new offices that bring national and global scope to alumni outreach, while undertaking a systematic review of its operations. In June 2008, the University of Chicago completed a successful fundraising campaign, raising nearly $2.4 billion in support of academic programs and initiatives.

"It is all part of building that culture of philanthropy that helps everybody from alumni to staff to students to friends of the University see the direct effect they have on sustaining this great place," Alper said. "Tom has the experience to make us more effective at developing and nurturing that culture."

Farrell supports that perspective. "I believe that a great University like the University of Chicago must be focused on both building community and encouraging philanthropy. This is the essence of our role as advancement professionals," he said. "I am eager to continue this ongoing effort and am excited to meet with the deans and faculty; with alumni, student, parent and trustee leaders; with our leading friends and volunteers; and with development and alumni relations staff over the next few weeks as we prepare to strengthen the quality of our engagement with the broader University of Chicago family."