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Chancellor's Column: Raising the Bar in Philanthropy

"Philanthropy is not about money. It's about using whatever resources you have at your fingertips and applying them to improving the world." 

– Melinda Gates

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Dear Colleagues-Friends,

As a follow up on our earlier Chancellor’s Column that emphasized the importance of philanthropy for UTHSC’s vibrant future, we are delighted to now highlight a very productive retreat last week by our Alumni and Development team, appropriately themed, "Raising the Bar."

With our college deans also in attendance, we reviewed the opportunities ahead of us in a post COVID-19 era, wherein donor engagement has taken on new forms with increasing emphasis on digital access and online giving. We also discussed the five stages of the fundraising cycle (Identification, Qualification, Cultivation, Solicitation, and Stewardship). Across the University of Tennessee System this past year, the University of Tennessee Foundation recorded the second best year ever of fundraising at over $314 million raised. At UTHSC, we raised $17.2 million this past year, which is inclusive of your generosity as reflected in a 20% increase in this year’s UTHSC Giving Day. We also discussed our fundraising goal and strategies for this academic year, set at raising $20.5 million.

People in open discussion at the Alumni and Development retreat

In addition to all of us gaining a greater understanding of fundraising concepts for greater effectiveness, we also learned “gems of philanthropy wisdom” through a unique and very engaging panel experience with four generous philanthropists who support the UTHSC mission. We are most grateful to our friends on this panel:

  •  Dr. Joe Greer (CoD '73, DDS) who practices dentistry at Dr. Joe Greer & Associates in Memphis. He is originally from Dyersburg and is married to Estella and has three children and six grandchildren. Joe was the first in his large family to go to college and was the first African American student to be accepted into the College of Dentistry. He serves as an Honorary Co-Chair for the College's Campaign for Clinical Excellence.
  • Dr. Robert J. Kaplan (CoM '73, MD, Dermatology Resident '77) a renowned dermatologist in Memphis who is a staunch advocate for medical student and resident education. Bob and his wife, Becky, support the Kaplan Clinical Skills Center and Kaplan-Amonette Department of Dermatology. The College of Medicine Executive Dean position is named in his honor. Bob's service on many UT boards earned him the Jim and Natalie Haslam Presidential Medal, the top UT award.
  • Ms. Ernestine Smith (BBA, MBA, University of Memphis) a programs officer at the Assisi Foundation since its inception in 1994, helping to award $260 million and leading the Before You Ask program. Ernie is a member of the 2002 Class of Leadership Memphis, former president of the Uncommon Threads Quilt Guild, and has received multiple "Woman of the Year" awards from the Mid-South Fly Fishers and Southern Council of Fly Fishers International.
  • Dr. Cheryl Cummings Stegbauer (CoN '69, CoGHS '94, PhD) is a professor emeritus in the UTHSC College of Nursing. She helped develop several degree programs at UTHSC and received the UT National Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award in 2002, the Public Service Award in 2004, and was selected by the Nurse Practitioner Journal as one of the Top 25 Nurse Practitioners in the U.S. Dr. Stegbauer and her husband Bill are major supporters of the College of Nursing.


Group at the Alumni and Development retreat

Left to Right: Chancellor Peter Buckley, Ms. Ernestine Smith, Dr. Joe Greer, Dr. Cheryl Cummings Stegbauer, Dr. Robert J. Kaplan, Love Collins, III

Questions posed to our panel covered, among other aspects, how their passion for philanthropy evolved, how they decide on what projects to support, and how we can serve them and other potential donors as we “raise the bar” in philanthropy. Their answers were insightful as well as thought provoking. As just some examples, when asked about his passion for giving, Dr. Kaplan highlighted, "We want to make a difference. Leave things better than we found it." and Dr. Stegbauer commented that all of us have the opportunity "to learn from the past and give to the future." Ms. Smith addressed the joy of giving in expressing "the more you give, the better you feel." When asked why he gave to one particular cause over another, Dr. Greer reminded us of the importance of moving from cultivation to actual solicitation, saying "I gave because they asked me... Others didn't!" Powerful messages.

The retreat – and particularly this panel session – highlighted both "the science and art" of philanthropy... and we look forward to putting what we learned to use!

Dr. Cheryl Cummings Stegbauer and Dr. Robert J. Kaplan having a discussion at the retreat.

We look forward to 'singing the praises' of your great work and we are excited at the potential ahead of us to raise our profile and, in doing so, to also raise more donations in support of our noble mission.

With pride in our mission and with enthusiasm for opportunities before us,

Chancellor Buckley's signature

Peter F. Buckley, MD

Sep 1, 2022