Rodney P. Kirsch

Senior Vice President

Our society faces global challenges that at times seem overwhelming, but the optimist in me knows that our collective work in philanthropy holds great promise in solving these challenges and improving the human condition. Our work has never been more important or rewarding.


Rod Kirsch, Senior Vice President, brings to the firm a wealth of alumni and higher education development experience. Over his 34-year career in university fundraising, he provided executive leadership in the raising of more than $5 billion of philanthropy.

Rod currently holds the title of Senior Vice President Emeritus for Development and Alumni Relations at The Pennsylvania State University, after serving as its Senior Vice President for 20 years. Rare in the length of tenure and record of accomplishment at one institution, he led from start to finish two 7-year capital campaigns which each raised in the billions of dollars. Under his leadership, Penn State’s endowment increased sixfold, its annual donor base increased from 125,000 to 193,000, and the Penn State Alumni Association grew to 177,000 members, the largest of any dues-paying university association in the country.

Rod is widely credited as the driving force behind the success of “For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students.” This 7-year, $2-billion effort took place amid a historic economic upheaval and during one of the worst crises a higher education institution has ever faced. The campaign concluded on schedule and in excess of its goal, with $2.19 billion raised and donations from 176,000 alumni. It set a new alumni participation record among public and private institutions. Institutions such as Michigan State University and the University of Missouri, as well as professional organizations like the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Association of Donor Relations Professionals, have benefitted from his expertise and experience as a leader during a major crisis.

Rod currently consults on a range of topics, including: campaign planning and management, organizational design and assessment, resource development and budget planning, crisis fundraising, professional staff development and mentoring, the alignment of academic and philanthropic priorities, and the role of academic leadership in fundraising. He previously served as Senior Vice President for Development at the Indiana University Foundation; Executive Director, Capital Campaign at the University of California at Berkeley; Director of Annual Giving at Drake University, and Director of Undergraduate Chapter Services at Delta Upsilon International Fraternity.

Rod served for 15 years as a faculty member of the Big Ten Fundraisers Institute, a premier educational seminar for senior development professionals. He has been a frequent speaker at CASE seminars and is a board member of Nurturing Minds in Africa, a nonprofit working to educate girls in Tanzania.
Rod is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School of Education at Indiana University. In 2014, the Penn State Alumni Association granted him Honorary Alumnus status, and in 2016, he was recognized by Penn State as its Renaissance Honoree of the Year.

A proud native of North Dakota, Rod holds a Master of Science in Higher Education from Indiana University Bloomington, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with Phi Beta Kappa honors from the University of North Dakota.


  • Drake University
  • Florida State University
  • Indiana University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • University of North Florida
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Texas-Austin
  • University of Toronto
Areas of Expertise
  • Campaign Planning
  • Higher Education Fundraising
  • Major + Principal Gifts Strategy
  • Organizational Assessment
  • Organizational Development
  • Staff and Volunteer Teaching and Coaching
  • Volunteer Engagement
  • Volunteer Management

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