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Donald Fry: Engaging and Energizing Alumni
Fry says there are close to 90,000 alumni worldwide in the Rensselaer family. In his new role as vice president for institute advancement, he’s committed to engaging and energizing each of them about the evolution of their alma mater.
Since arriving at Rensselaer in July, Fry a retired Army major, former director of advancement for the College of Engineering at Purdue, and most recently vice president for development and advancement at Colorado State University has been a tireless advocate for the Institute, working hard to open lines of communication and build relationships with Rensselaer’s many constituencies.
“I’m here to expand the culture of engagement with the institution and to help those outside of Rensselaer understand the great things happening here,” he says. “I see my job as finding ways to reach out to people, including those who’ve lost touch with the Institute; understanding what’s meaningful, important, or unique about this place to them; and then helping them think about the ways in which Rensselaer could be a partner for them in a variety of collaborations.”
Fry says part of Institute Advancement’s charge is to spread the word about the many changes that have taken place and to increase the philanthropic investments made at Rensselaer.
“Rensselaer today is a very different place than it was 20 or 30 years ago. I want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to take a look at the strides the Institute has made and the positive direction it’s headed.”
Fry says the campaign which funds the initiatives laid out by The Rensselaer Plan will require a campuswide effort in order to reach its goal of $1.4 billion by 2009.
Like most campaigns of this magnitude, the majority of Rensselaer’s funding has come from generous commitments and gifts from a small portion of donors, according to Fry. Now, he says, “is the time to make sure everyone understands what the campaign is about, because we’ll need everyone’s participation in order to reach our goal.”
“The purpose of the campaign is to build excitement, create energy, and raise awareness,” he says. “The campaign keeps us in the national spotlight, it shows that we have the financial backing of our constituents, and allows us to fund new initiatives, which helps us move up in the national rankings and remain competitive.”
Building lifelong relationships and encouraging alumni to get involved and excited about Rensselaer’s evolution, Fry says, is just as important as meeting the campaign goal, funding new initiatives, and growing the endowment.
“Under Dr. Jackson’s leadership the Institute has become a highly regarded, top-tier institution, and I know our alumni can take pride in their alma mater’s progress,” says Fry. “It’s not just about how much money we’ve raised or need to raise, it’s about encouraging our graduates to come back to campus, to get involved, and to be a part of the phenomenal transformation that’s taking place at Rensselaer.”
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