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.

Biography

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

Rod is currently Senior Vice President Emeritus for Development and Alumni Relations at The Pennsylvania State University after serving as Senior Vice President for 20 years. Rare in the length of tenure and record of accomplishment at one institution, he led two seven-year, billion-dollar-plus capital campaigns from start to finish. Under his leadership, Penn State’s endowment sextupled, 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.

Kirsch is widely credited as the driving force behind the success of “For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students.” This seven-year $2 billion effort took place amid an historic economic upheaval and during one of the worst crises a higher education institution has ever faced.  The campaign concluded on schedule and exceeded its goal by raising $2.19 billion with donations from 176,000 alumni, setting a new alumni participation record among public and private institutions. Other institutions, such as Michigan State University, the University of Missouri, and 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.

Rod serves as a faculty member of the Big Ten Fundraisers Institute, a premier educational seminar for senior development professionals, and as vice-chair of the Board of Nurturing Minds in Africa, a non-profit working to educate girls in Tanzania. He has been a frequent speaker at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) seminars.

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 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. In 2016, he was recognized by Penn State as its Renaissance Honoree of the Year.

A proud native of North Dakota, Rod holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with Phi Beta Kappa honors from the University of North Dakota, as well as a Master of Science in higher education and student affairs from Indiana University Bloomington.


Clients:

  • Drake University
  • Florida State University
  • Indiana University Foundation
  • MGH Institute of Health Professions
  • New York Institute of Technology
  • Quinnipiac University
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Houston
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • University of North Florida
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Texas-Austin
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Virginia
  • Tecnológico de Monterrey
Areas of Expertise
  • Campaign planning and management
  • Communicating / Managing through a crisis
  • Elements of high performing programs
  • Interdisciplinary fundraising
  • Organizational design and assessment
  • Professional staff development and mentoring
  • Resource development and budget planning
  • The academic leader’s role in advancement

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