Behrend Talks 2.07: Philanthropy & Alumni Relations with Kevin Moore


Welcome to Business Spotlight on Money
Radio WPSE. Business Spotlight is heard weekly at this time on 1450 AM and
107.1 FM. Today, Dr. Ralph Ford, Chancellor at Penn State Behrend, sits down with Kevin Moore, director of development and alumni relations at Penn
State Behrend. Welcome to Behrend Talks on WPSE AM
1450 Money Radio, where we have discussions with interesting people in
the Behrend community. I’m Chancellor Ralph Ford and today my guest is somebody I know really well. That’s Kevin Moore. He is the director of alumni relations and
development here at Behrend. Kevin, welcome. Thank you very much, Ralph. So, you know Kevin, I always like to, you know, start
out, a little bit, tell us how you got here. I mean you you were a Behrend
student, so you’ve been a member of the Behrend family for a long time. That’s
absolutely true, I actually sat in this room as a student and a lion ambassador
back in the early ’80s. And left when I graduated Behrend. I went to D.C. and worked for Marriott for a few years and got the bug for customer service and helping
people and connecting dots and all that kind of stuff. Which led to grad school
at Penn State Harrisburg and then back to Behrend. And I came back here in
career development and I worked with you as an engineering faculty for many
years in electrical engineering. And placing our students at companies all
around the country and getting them prepared with resume writing and proper
dress and interviewing skills and things like that. Which led to the first alumni
job. Your predecessor Dr. Lilley, created the Office of Alumni Relations, and I was
fortunate enough to get that post. And did that for four years. And in the
university scheme, alumni relations and development are in the same academic
organizational unit. And as such, I started getting more interested in
development and became more and more fascinated with really having an impact
in the college, here. Well, you definitely have. Let’s step back though. You studied communications while you were here. Correct. Yeah, did you have any idea when you were an undergrad? Can you think back, or you
know, what was it that you thought you would do after you graduated? I actually had a very clear
path at that time. When I got into communications, I wanted to get into
broadcasting. I had the opportunity to interview Peter Jennings, actually, when he came to Erie.
Really? Yeah, I got to sit and talk with him, and I got the bug. And
thought it would be a lot of fun to get on camera and do that. And, then I did
some research and found out at that time, this is the early ’80s I think, salaries
were $17,000 a year, $18,000 a year to get started, and you
might get up to $20,000 in three or four years in the field. So, it
quickly became a non-starter for me. It just was not financially viable to do
that and highly competitive. You pay your dues in that. You absolutely do and work your way through the markets. And, if you’re fortunate, by the time
you’re 50, you’re actually making some money in front of the camera. It’s not as,
you know, it’s not as successful financially as people might like to
think it is. Unless you’re, you know, Bryant Gumbel or somebody like that, and
you’re making millions of dollars a year. So, Peter Jennings, you know, he was
a real gentleman. I really appreciated him. What was like to interview him? Uh, he
was a heavy smoker, so one of the things I remember was just the air
of cigarette smoke around him. And unfortunately he passed away from lung
cancer, due to exactly that. But he was very gracious. I was a very green, 19-year-old kid, you know? And he was very, very gracious in sharing his experiences and
how he got up to where he achieved. I’m sure that was quite the
formative experience. But that’s one of the things I like about Behrend and
about the Erie community, is our students can get involved with things. That’s
really part of the whole idea, of the philosophy of the open laboratory, is
let’s get our students out there working in the things that they’re good at. And
Behrend provides tremendous amounts of opportunities. And opportunities to
meet with people like that, luminaries in the field of science and mathematics and
engineering. It’s just an amazing place to be working, as well, because we
can see these people and see fun people, like the MythBusters a few years ago.
That was a great one. Yeah, and it was a whole lot of fun. I forgot about that.
Really fun people that come to campus. Yeah, you get to see the side of them
that you don’t see on TV, and they’re often really just phenomenally talented
people. They didn’t get there often by by not working hard. Well, let’s switch a little bit to this idea, you’re director of development and alumni relations. And so a lot of people don’t know what
development means. I like that, you know, there’s often the stereotype that, you
know, you’re like out golfing and smoking cigars and drinking whiskey with donors
all the time. That’s exactly right. Isn’t that exactly what you do? That’s exactly what I do. We pay you to do that, right? Yes, come on, get in line with the resume, we’ll hire
you right away. No, no tell us, what is it you do, and, you know, walk us through what development is, because it’s, you know, that could mean a lot of things, the word development … what’s that mean in university context? Well, it’s funny that you used that analogy of smoking cigars and golfing with people. I
don’t smoke cigars and I very rarely golf. There’s not time to do it if you’re
doing your job properly. That’s not the kind of stuff we actually do. There’s a
funny poster in development that shows what our friends think we do. And it’s a
picture of sitting on a, you know, a nice Learjet with Arab sheiks, traveling the
world. And then what we actually do, of course, is much, much different than that.
So, the development world really revolves around connecting donors
to a project or to a program that they’re passionate about. It is
fundraising at the end of the day for sure, but it really is much more
sophisticated fundraising than people tend to think it is. It’s not chasing
ambulances, and chasing little old ladies, and holding bake sales to raise money
for the next cause. The University works on a much different model of endowment
building. So we really look out to the future very, very far. At the core of what
I do, I always tell people I’m a relationship manager. I build
relationships with people. It’s not only on the fundraising side and my role at
the University is connecting our alums back to the University, for hiring our
students or providing internship opportunities. It’s connecting the dots
for other alumni to research with each other and connect those dots, so they can
benefit one another in their relationship. So, at the end of the day, it’s
really relationship building with the end goal, of course, if, you know, someone
is altruistic, if someone is capable and then perhaps they’re going to make a
gift to the University to help support us. Well, you make a really good point. I
mean, the stereotypes are fun to talk about. And I’ve heard that as
well. But what you really come to realize is, first of all universities, look I’m
speaking to the choir here, but the reality is we have a big impact on
people’s lives. We have a big impact on the communities we serve, and people feel
very passionate about our mission as they do about many other organizations.
And people like to give back. And that’s an important thing to understand. I think
once you understand that they do this and they don’t do it without, you know,
without some level, often a great level of accountability. So when someone makes a gift to the University, we always have to make this point clear.
It is the “donor intent.” I think that’s interesting talking about, you know. Tell
us a little bit about what we mean when we say “donor intent.” Yeah, the
real magic in my job is finding something that the University has a need
in, or a passion for, or a purpose for and connecting that to that donor’s passion.
At the end of the day, we work on a donor’s timetable, we work on a donor’s
ability to fund something. So, it’s connecting those two dots. That’s where
the magic happens. If you have a donor who says I’ve always thought about
starting a scholarship, it’s being able to follow what that passion is. And that
scholarship could have been for a science student, or it could have been for a
wrestler, or a certain socio-economic background. We try and take whatever that
donor’s passion is and marry that to a need in the University. Yeah, and one
of the most popular things is scholarships, to be sure. Mm-hmm. People
can see the direct impact of a scholarship. That’s right. There is a direct correlation. Many people have received a scholarship or
been the beneficiary of someone else’s philanthropy, so that’s a very
understandable model, compared to things like an early career professorship. Which
we could certainly talk about. That’s a little more sophisticated, and a
little less aware for the general public. People are not quite as informed about
those types of things. Scholarships, on the other hand, you hear
about them. It’s one of the measurements that, you know, high school graduates talk
about. If they’re successful, they’ve been offered a lot of scholarship money to go
to a certain institution. So, it makes them much more sellable, if that’s the
word. Much more relatable for people when they’re thinking about philanthropy.
Well, you know, in scholarships, if you think about it, one of the things that
we’ve got such a variety of them, and people can tailor them, so if they want
to reward high-performing students and make it merit-based, they can do that.
That’s correct. If they want to help students with financial aid. So, those are
both legitimate ways of helping people in this world. That’s exactly right, and
everybody has a different passion. Some people will say, “I want to help fund a
student to study abroad. It was a formative experience of mine and I want
to provide that opportunity for the right student.” Some people may say, “I’ve never been to Europe and I don’t fund that. What I want to fund is a student that’s in chemistry, because the
world needs more chemists to figure out the problems of biodegradable plastics
or whatever the need is in the world.” Yeah, I think we’re truly blessed to be
in a place in a University where we can match all of these things and put them
together. That’s a great place to be. Let’s talk a bit about the current
campaign that we’re in. So, right now we’re in a campaign for “A Greater Penn State.” And it’s been going on for several years. And tell people,
what is a campaign? I mean, what’s the idea behind a capital campaign, or a
fundraising campaign, or a drive? Why do we do those? We do those because it helps
to quantify and give boundaries to certain purposes. So yeah, this campaign
did start four years ago. We’ve got two more years. It was recently extended by
one more year. The University is working toward a $1.6 billion campaign, and
we still have a year and a half to go in the original time-frame. And we
were already at $1.3 billion, so realizing that we were going reach that goal, we
thought if we extended it one more year, what can we strive for to benefit our students. And now we are at a $2.1 billion goal by the end of
June 30, 2022. So we set these campaigns up to provide a defined time period to
focus on a particular set of goals. It helps. It’s like strategic planning. You
you set your mission for the next 4, 5, 7 years typically in campaigns and you
strive for those goals. You focus your team, you focus the University staff, and
faculty on those types of goals. And you move forward to achieve them. And our
volunteers are highly engaged, too. We have a whole volunteer committee wrapped around this. We do. We have not only the Council of Fellows here at Behrend that’s
involved in that. That’s about a hundred people that are active business leaders
in our community, that come to campus to understand what it is we’re doing and
help to be ambassadors in our community and to share that. We also have a very
defined development committee, and their sole purpose is to help raise money in
the community. And they’re out there helping us to gain access to people that
may not be connected to us. They’re having conversations about those goals with our
communities, both locally as well as around the country. Some of our members
are in D.C., and Florida, and New York City. You know, I have been amazed, you know,
going through this process myself for the first time, about how it really does
work. It does focus people, and it provides a lot of good for the
University and for our community. So, Kevin, what I wanted to get a little
further into is, we talked about fundraising and campaigns, and how that
works. Let’s talk about some of the specific gifts, because we’ve had some
nice really impactful gifts in this campaign. And one that comes to mind is
the Hirtzel Foundation, which was very generous in helping us to support our nursing
program. And obviously there’s this huge shortage of nurses, and they’re
critically important in our lives. Not to use a pun, “critically important.” But, so
tell us, how did that work, and what’s the impact? The Hirtzel Foundation, The Orris C. Hirtzel Foundation, is based in North East. It was actually started by Mr.
Hirtzel in his estate many years ago, now. And he created The Electric Materials
Company, the old Temco, in North East. He always wanted to be a physician himself, and never got there. So he wanted to inspire medically related research in
our area, and supplies and equipment for universities and businesses in the area.
So they there are very strong supporters of us and some of our university friends
in the community. Gannon, in particular, with the nursing program. So, two or
two-and-a-half years ago now, we approached them with the concept of
supporting our nursing program. It’s been going gangbusters. We have great success
with our nursing program. It’s actually been resurrected. We had nursing here
back in the ’60s and ’70s, and it was let go in the early ’80s. And has come
back now and come back gangbusters. I did not know that. Yeah, we are doing really well
in our program. We are getting ready to double enrollment from the first few
years. We’re pushing out, I think, about 65 or so nurses a year now with the new
program. And, of course, with that comes the need for concurrent equipment, and
technologies, and expanded spaces. And we approached the Hirtzel Foundation, and they generously funded $900,000 towards that effort. So,
accompanying University funds, with that $900,000, we were
able to expand a beautiful state-of-the-art nursing facility here. Simulation labs, so our nurses can train on simulated human
beings. They’re mannequins essentially that have all kinds of technology. They
sweat, they breathe, they push fluids out of all the places we all push fluids out
of. It’s amazing! So, it never ceases to amaze me how realistic it is. And it
always throws you off when you first see that simulation start. And when you watch
a simulation with the students, it is really no different than working on a
human being. They quickly become involved with that mannequin, because the
instructor can also speak through that mannequin. So the mannequin is actually,
you know, talking. Saying my chest feels heavy, my arm is hurting, I’m burning up.
And they can talk, so the nurses can practice real-world situations on a
mannequin with no real consequence there. So when they get in the real world and
there are consequences, they’re well trained. And the simulation works. I mean,
talking to the faculty, they see the students go from very nervous … they don’t
even record them in the beginning. And later, they start to record and then they
show them the video of how they responded. And all those capabilities are
there. It’s a great training tool. Now that is a tremendous story. Well,
there’s another large initiative that we just announced this last September, which
is a large partnership with a number of partners. The Erie Community Foundation,
Hamot Health Foundation, UPMC, Penn State’s involved, and of course it’s to
bring Magee Womens Research Institute here to Erie, Pennsylvania. And that’s
going to have a lot of impact. It’s a very exciting project. It was announced
this past spring. It’s going be about a $26 million dollar impact in our
community. And it’s largely focused on women’s oncological health and
reproductive health. So it’s a very exciting project that will have not only
ramifications for women’s health, but will also be a large economic
development project in our community. And have tentacles that will go out and grow
businesses around the research that comes from this project. Yeah, it’s really,
you know, it’s great. I get to sit in the, you know, I’m highly involved in this.
I won’t, you know, everyone should understand that and we’re kind of at a
nice quiet phase right now. But we’re building, and we’ve just got to this
great partnership. I will tell you, Magee Womens, UPMC, we’re all
moving very quickly behind-the-scenes start to build up the laboratories and
to find out the sort of research that should be done here in Erie. But the
important thing for people to realize is, this whole thing though, is largely
funded by philanthropy. It’s amazing to me, actually. There are no state and
federal dollars in here. We didn’t go to the state and ask for anything. We as
institutions are putting our money forward, and we’re putting philanthropic
dollars and we are asking the community to give. So why don’t you explain how
that works because that is not typical. That’s not typical at all, especially for
all of us in Pennsylvania. They know the Pitt versus Penn State rivalry, and anyone on the surface to look at partnering together on a big project like this, you
would not have come to putting Pitt and Penn State in the same room. But through
great leadership, including your own, we were able to work through those details.
And for those who aren’t familiar with MWRI or Magee Womens Research Institute, it is, I believe, the third best research, third-ranked research institution in
women’s health in the world. And that’s based in Pittsburgh. And they wanted to
expand to the Erie community. And when they came here, they realized that Penn
State’s the great partner. So over that time, it took I know a year of
negotiations with you, but the fruition of that is now that we have this
wonderful project that will bring two large academic research institutions, and
UPMC Hamot to Behrend. They are the first women’s research institute in the world. (They’re #1.) And I think they’re the highest ranked. (Excellent.) This is, in the end, is going to
improve the health of the people in our community. And that is not hyperbole. Just
by Hamot connecting with UPMC, already the doctors who’ve come here have
improved outcomes. So it’s very real. But what I do want to make a point about is, we are fundraising. We’re not bashful about that, and if there is
anyone in the community who’s interested in talking to us—both us, Boo Hagerty at the Hamot Health Foundation, you. We’re working as a team. We’re out there
promoting this. It’s important for us to have that, to make this thing a go. One of
the most exciting parts of that fundraising, is that the University had
the wisdom to put a $5 million dollar match on the table. So far, we have
about $2 million of that accounted for and we have another $3 million
dollars if any donor … and really any increment … $25,000 or
$1 million dollars, we can match that dollar to be put towards this project. So it’s
very exciting to have that kind of money on the table. And our part of this whole
Magee Womens, out of the $26 million, Penn State Behrend and Penn State University
are putting in $10 million of that. Yeah, it’s a great story. We’ve been
able to really work with the University to bring this funding here. We do need to
to get that match, but what I like to point people to is, a lot of them are
saying. “Well, then you’re gonna come back after you get to that $5 million
dollar mark.” No, this thing will be, this is an interesting model, we’ll have
an endowment that allows us to run this in the long term. It will impact our
students. Make no mistake, we’ll have our students working on cutting-edge
research. They’ll be working with world-class researchers, they’ll be
working with their faculty. We will build better laboratories for our students.
This couldn’t be a better, true, realistic story about how this will grow, you
know, the entire community. So, I realize I’m going off and, you know, selling
there. But it is an important project, and for us to be able to raise those
funds is really important for the University. Do you want to add? Well, you mentioned endowments. Early on in the conversation, we talked about endowments and that’s a great illustration of an endowment. And that’s where the
fundraising is far more sophisticated at the University level than it would be at
your local church or Little League. We’re based on that endowment model, because
sustainability is so critical to the educational model, to the community
impact model. And, as a land-grant institution, that’s where our rubber hits
the road. We are beholden to the state because we receive a significant
amount of tax dollars from the state. And our job is to help the economic
development and help the citizens of Pennsylvania. So it’s projects like this
that we raise these endowments. And that will, we work on a 4.5% model, so on that $10 million dollars, there’s $450,000 dollars a year that is generated to fund the director of that
project and the admin and the support that they need. You can’t get much, you
know? You know, it’s a tremendous philanthropic return. Then that’s what I,
you know, you and I are always out there making that case. Well, let’s switch a
little bit. We talked about scholarships earlier. I want to come back
around, because we have created a really special scholarship program
called PaSSS, which is the Pathway to Success: Summer Start (PaSSS) program. Which is actually even more than a scholarship program. Just tell us, what is this
PaSSS program, and how does it work, and then I want to take it to the next step
about what we did with Erie Insurance. But just tell us about PaSSS? PaSSS is
unique in so many different ways. The first one was, the University actually
had an incentive program at the time for 2:1 dollars. So, for every dollar
someone put in, minimum buy-in was $30 thousand dollars, the University would
put $2 dollars in. So the University would match $60 thousand dollars to
that. So, that was one of the first things. But the other unique thing about it was,
it really was focused on socially, socioeconomically disadvantaged students, minority students, providing an opportunity where they may not have had
an opportunity to go to a higher education institution, especially one
like Penn State. During that process, they have to get in under their own academic
steam. This isn’t a hand-up academically. They have to be able to be admitted to
Penn State under their own academic abilities. And once they are, they fall
into a program where they start earlier in the summer to become oriented, they
take a class, they get mentoring, they get some funding. Then, when the school year
starts, they get a scholarship and they also get a job placement. And during this
process we worked with Erie Insurance, and they generously funded $1.5 million dollars, which again was matched 2:1. So it became a $4
million dollar project for these PaSSS students, and again that’s that endowment
model. Those funds are used to fund not only the scholarship, but support for
those students, and their jobs on campus or off-campus. And Erie Insurance
is helping us to provide many of those jobs in the student’s field or
area of expertise, like marketing, or web development, or accounting. They’re out
there helping nonprofits. They’re helping startups, where otherwise those companies may not be able to afford that help. Mm-hmm. And I love it, because it does
take a student from before they get here, helps them acclimate to the University,
provides financial support, and then puts them into a career experience. If you get
to that point, you’re in the second or third year, the student should be
successful. Mm-hmm. It helps them go, and Erie Insurance had the vision. And Tim Necastro and the leadership at Erie Insurance had the vision to say, “We want
to certainly benefit from these kinds of things, providing a good, capable workforce, but we also are very focused on our community.” And they want to be able to help those nonprofits, and help the other
businesses in the community. So Erie Insurance was extremely generous, not
only to us, but to our entire community. And we owe them some debt. Absolutely.
They’re doing so much in the community. We were talking about matching programs
and funding. Tell us a little bit about how that match process works. Well, in
that Excelerate example we talked about with Erie Insurance, that was an
incentive program that was two years ago, almost, now, that the University
rolled out, and occasionally we’ll put out incentive programs to motivate donors
who might be thinking about doing something. And it provides that extra
boost and it also shows the University’s commitment to those particular projects.
In the case of the PaSSS scholarship program, Dr. Barron, the president of
Penn State University, wanted to make sure that Penn State was accessible and
affordable to those students who have the intellectual abilities to go to Penn
State, but may not have the financial backing to do so. So the economic
development match program is the most current program we’re looking at. The
University has set aside dollars and we have the opportunity to access those dollars in the community for projects that will create jobs
in the community that are tied to the University–in terms of the
academic side, but also actual job creation. That tends to be the main
criteria for that. So we still have about $10 million dollars allotted
to the Behrend College for that economic development match program. And that’s
some of the money that we’re using in the MWRI project we mentioned earlier, and the Excelerate program. Those will create jobs in our community and the University
is backing those. Yeah, and there’s a lot of opportunity. We’ve got a lot of ideas
around how that could be matched. So you know, I think we’re always open to the
discussion. Yeah, one project that I know you’ve been really close to is the
Innovation Commons project. Can you tell me a little more about that? Yeah, so I
mean the Innovation Commons is, you know, it’s a great story if anyone hasn’t heard
about this in the community. I, you know, you’re always welcome to come to campus
to see this. So the idea behind the Innovation Commons is, we’ve created a
space on campus, which is a bit of a makerspace, entrepreneurial support space. But the idea is we’re here to help our students with their education, to learn
about technology (say like 3D printing, rapid prototyping, how to start your own
business) but really a very large component of this is helping companies
and entrepreneurs prototype products and start their businesses. And this
initiative really, you know, you look at it. They take a long time to develop,
frankly. When I was in the engineering school, and I was the director of the
engineering school, there was this large maker movement across the entire, you
know, country. And engineering schools were just struggling with, how do we take
advantage of that? Could you even create a makerspace? Well then the University
created an internal grant competition. And we applied and we created what we
now call Innovation Commons. In fact, this was before the University came up with
the LaunchBox name, which is, a lot of the other campuses, they have now LaunchBoxes. So, we were like the first LaunchBox in the system. At Behrend, we like to be
a place of firsts, right? But, so what is it we do there? We have students who are
working there on a daily basis. I mean, I’m amazed, almost anytime you walk in,
you see students there. They’re working on their own projects. They are
prototyping things. But, you know, like I say, one or two companies at least per
week, walk in and say, “I have an idea. I would like to prototype this. I’d like
to develop it. Can you help us do that?” Is it always businesses, or are there
individuals from the community that can take advantage of this? It’s probably more individuals. So, you know, one of the, here’s a great story, was the, I’ll give you two examples.
One is the fast framer. We had an individual who worked at flipping houses.
And he needed a special device to hold 2-by-4s, because he was, you know, holding them. And trying to put them in different positions, and I
think nail them in, and the like. And he had a prototype, and he brought it in. And
our students quickly determined that’s just not manufacturable. But within a few
days, they had worked with him and they had refined it. And they came up with
something that was highly manufacturable. Fast-forward a year and he’s selling that
product in, you know, Ace Hardware. And he has now sold the rights to it.
And he’s off on working on a second project. So that’s an individual. It’s the
person who has an idea. And there are a lot of them that are out there. That
seems to be the majority, but there are companies who come to us. Another great
story is what’s going on at Lake Erie Rubber Manufacturing. If you’re not
familiar, one of the engineers left GE a couple of years ago and said, “I’m going to
purchase this company.” And they do a lot of contract manufacturing. He
realized that, geez, I need to be able to prototype new products and develop my
own. So we helped him come up with a whole new line of dog toys that he’s now
selling under the brand name One Leg Up. So I could go on and on, but it’s a great
opportunity. And by the way, it is one of those matching gift opportunities. We
have matching funds in the University. So you may want to talk about that, Kevin.
Sure. I was going to say, that’s my direct connection to the Innovation
Commons project. University Park, to incentivize this economic development
activity, set-aside $1 million dollars for someone who might want to name our
Innovation Commons. That can be done by one individual or one company or it
could be a combination thereof. But we do have a million dollar match. And again, it
gets back to that endowment model where we have a million dollars from the
University, a million dollars from the donor that will be put into an endowment.
That’s not touched. It’s grows with investments, we turn about 8% a year at
the University on average, and then 4.5% of that $2 million
dollars or roughly $90,000 goes to operational costs every
year in Innovation Commons. So someone who’s particularly entrepreneurial, who
is philanthropic, who has vision for economic development in our community,
can put their name or a name on this project. And it can be the Ralph Ford
Innovation Commons for the right dollar. I think it is a great opportunity. All
right. Well, we’re coming to the end. Anything you’d like to add, Kevin? No, I
just think that if you have a particular interest in any area that the college
has, that I would encourage you to reach out to someone connected to the
University to get involved. Again it’s not always philanthropic dollars but
that’s a great way to make a big impact at the University. There are all kinds of
opportunities and we’d love to talk to you about that. Well, thank you for joining us. I really appreciate it. This has been a great
conversation. Again, my guest today was Kevin Moore, director of development and
alumni relations, and you were listening to Behrend Talks on WPSE Money Radio, 107.1 FM and AM 1450. Thanks for listening to Business
Spotlight on Money Radio WPSE. Join us again on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.
for an encore presentation of the Business Spotlight with Dr. Ralph Ford,
Chancellor at Penn State Behrend.

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