Fundraisers, leaders and nonprofit professionals from across the country convened on campus in July for the second summer chapter of the college’s new Philanthropy and Development master’s degree program.
“It is so exciting to see the growth of this endeavor,” said Jeff Lukken, Administrative Director of Graduate and Degree Completion Programs. “We welcomed students this year from all points of the compass – word is spreading about the quality of our professors and courses.”
Especially thrilling is the expansion of the faculty, he said, including John Lippincott, president emeritus of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
“He is respected all over the world for his expertise and knowledge,” Lukken said. “He has spent his career helping schools, colleges and universities strengthen their fundraising, alumni relations, communications and marketing operations. We are so lucky to have him.”
The quality of the professors impressed and inspired participants in the program.
“Having John Lippincott was huge,” said Jim Caskey, vice president for advancement at Goshen (Ind.) College. “But all of the professors are practitioners and researchers who are actually working in the field. It’s not just theory and books, we are learning from their real experiences.”
Kevin Callahan, chief development officer for a health system in Winchester, Va., agreed.
“Many of the instructors have multiple decades of hands-on experience,” he said. “These people are educators but they are also fundraisers who understand the challenges and opportunities of what we do. They have a huge amount of credibility and they are really good teachers.”
Other faculty members include Holly Hall from the Chronicle of Philanthropy; Dr. JuliAnn Mazachek, president and CEO of Washburn University Foundation; renowned development executive Dr. Tom Thomsen; Will Jones, Vice President for External Relations at LaGrange; Dr. David Ahearn, religion professor and ethicist; and Nancy Brown, an independent consultant in charitable estate planning.
Hall said there are many things that make the LaGrange program stand out.
“Students have the opportunity to interact with and learn from some of the most influential professionals in the field,” she said. “The classes are of a very manageable size, so students get a lot of one-on-one attention. And there is no other program like this in the Southeast.”
Many of the students said they are receiving much more than they expected.
Jennifer Thomasson, director of development for a school in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., said she initially thought the degree would just be something good to put on her resume.
“But now I see what I do is so much deeper,” she said. “It’s completely turned everything I thought I knew upside down. I feel like I’m a completely different person after these two weeks.”
Members of the first class have been so inspired by their studies that they wanted to do something to give back.
“Last year, we purchased ‘The Giving Tree,’ a book by Shel Silverstein,” said Sarah Swain, director of giving at a college in North Carolina. “The tree’s act of selfless love and giving is symbolic of our work in the field of philanthropy.
“At the end of our first immersion session last summer, we each wrote words of encouragement and advice for future Philanthropy and Development students. This year, we shared the book with Cohort (Class) 2 and invited them to write their words of inspiration in the book and pass it along to Cohort 3,” she said. “We hope this will be a tradition for our program.”
They also wanted to give back to LaGrange College.
Last year, just before the first cohort arrived on campus, a giant oak tree next to Smith Hall was felled by a strong windstorm. In the spirit of “The Giving Tree,” the inaugural class will be replacing it with a crape myrtle.
“The tree represents our appreciation to the school for supporting us in our profession and the field of philanthropy,” Swain said.
The class also purchased a copy of “The Giving Tree” that they signed and donated to Frank and Laura Lewis Library.
Jones said he is proud of what the students are accomplishing and is enthusiastic about the future of the program.
“We have an accomplished faculty and a strong group of students,” he said. “We have fundraising leaders from California to Louisiana to Georgia and beyond. It will be exciting to see how far our graduates will go in their careers with this degree, and to see all of the good they will do around the world.”
In the Headlines
Panther’s coach looking for big things – LaGrange Daily News, Jul. 5, 2015 http://lagrangenews.com/sports/1099/panthers-coach-looking-for-big-things
The Panthers were picked fourth in the 2015 preseason USA South coaches poll at the conference’s annual Football Media Day, held at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Va. The Panthers were 5-5 last season. They host Birmingham-Southern at Callaway Stadium on Sept. 5 in the 2015 season opener. Kickoff is 6 p.m.
First Week activities will begin Aug. 22 with the annual Spirit and Traditions Kickoff from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on the Residential Quad. Students, faculty, staff and families are invited to the carnival-type event. On Sunday (Aug. 23), a chapel worship service will be at 10:15 a.m. and is open to the public. The Callaway Gardens Beach Bash for students, faculty, staff and families will be from 3-7 p.m. Monday (Aug. 24), at Robin Beach Lake. That will be followed by popular hypnotist Daniel James. The annual Fair on the Hill will be from 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 25), and will feature live music, community vendors and campus organizations. Activities will conclude Wednesday (Aug. 26), with the annual convocation service at 7 p.m. in Callaway Auditorium. Classes also will begin that day.
Middle-school students attending the college’s annual Learn2Serve camp were asked to research, write and perform public service messages about conservation. Take a look at the clever, original videos they came up with.
The latest episode of “LaGrange College Presents” cable TV show features an interview with Director of Bands Josh Roberts and music by the LaGrange Percussion Ensemble. The program can be viewed Friday nights at 10 p.m. on Charter Cable channel 181 or online here.